It has been a much more challenging year for hiring in 2023.
The tech and e-commerce sectors have seen a significant correction and the retail industry has struggled with consumer spending considerably lower than in prior years. Many retailers continue to grapple with becoming truly omnichannel but need to adopt this strategy in the face of intense competition. More widely, reduced business investment as well as pressure on costs has translated to greater risk aversion and subdued hiring from companies.
There has also been significant downsizing in segments of the market leading to job losses. Senior executives have found it more difficult to secure permanent positions since there are fewer vacancies and intense competition for the roles that do arise. There are some tremendously talented executives 'sitting on the bench' and one can only hope that a more positive outlook for 2024 offers a change in fortune for them. It's too early to say how next year will shape up but economic indicators (such as dropping inflation) are glimmers of light.
The upshot of a weaker economic backdrop has meant employers are less willing to compromise on their hiring requirements and the length of search processes have therefore extended.
Whilst it is a more suppressed hiring landscape than previous years, there are several qualities that I believe companies will be looking for in 2024 and should be applicable to you regardless of your geographic location or functional specialism.
Resilience amid uncertainty
Many of the leaders I have spoken to these last 12 months have described change as the new normal. Whether it’s geopolitical factors contributing to economic instability or the impact of artificial intelligence (to name just two), companies are looking for leaders who can show clear evidence in their past experience of dealing with a shifting landscape and increasing levels of pressure.
On the subject of pressure, this can of course be a contributor to stress and appropriate coping mechanisms need to be built into every executive's leadership toolkit. This is something my sister company NewlandRock specialises in. If you feel this is something that’s relevant to you, please get in touch with Kate Thomas for an exploratory discussion.
As we navigated our way through the pandemic, all the talk was around digital. That clearly remains imperative to most companies’ future but if dealing with Covid has taught us one thing, it’s that human behaviour will always thrive on physical interactions. That’s why digital is just one of several channels of communication and distribution. Executives who bring this mindset to organisations will be at a distinct advantage.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) imperative
The call for diverse leadership continues across all sectors in hiring processes. Whilst some searches can certainly help to resolve diversity challenges, achieving truly diverse senior leadership teams is far from an overnight fix. It requires an investment in promoting a culture of diversity from within a business. If managed well, this should develop a succession plan for a diverse future executive team. Demonstrating an awareness of this and providing evidence of developing diversity is another important attribute that companies are looking for when hiring.
Avoiding groupthink in the C-Suite
Following on from the subject of diversity, companies are also looking for fresh thinking. Leaders who can offer a potentially contrarian view backed up with insights and data. As one prominent CEO I spoke to this year said on the subject of digital transformation: “If 90% of your executive team have one view, it’s the view of the 10% you really listen to’’. Leaders who show a track record of influencing decision-making of the CEO and Board are greatly valued.
These are just four factors amongst many that I have encountered this year in senior-level hiring processes.
The emphasis companies are placing on leadership has never been greater and if you’d like more insights on NewlandRock's Leadership Effectiveness solutions or BartonRock Executive Search's services please get in touch.
To your success in 2024.
Guy Day is the Founder of BartonRock, the executive search partner for high-growth consumer and retail businesses.
We manage the careers of leaders whose know-how and commercial acumen steer the strategic direction and future survival of companies.
For more information visit: www.bartonrock.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for support in Leadership Effectiveness?
Hi Reader Who is my successor? A question that is fundamental to sustainable growth It’s remarkable how many companies I observe that hire reactively. Of course, a focus on the present to meet revenue, profit and broader operational goals is imperative. But carving out time for longer-term planning, especially future leadership is imperative. In this Scaling Success newsletter, as we approach the calendar year-end, I thought it would be useful to reflect on succession planning for our own...
Hi Reader, Succession planning represents the board's paramount opportunity to shape a company’s future. In an era where CEO tenures are becoming shorter, and turnover rates are on the rise, boards need to be increasingly focused on nurturing a robust leadership pipeline. However, mastering the art of succession planning is no simple feat. I’ve seen it fail too many times. It calls for substantial effort, dedicated time, and a meticulously considered approach. Are you equipped with a...
Hi Reader, Why do so many CMOs fail? According to Harvard Business Review, 80% of CEOs don't trust or are unimpressed by their Chief Marketing Officers. Not surprisingly, therefore, CMOs have one of the briefest tenures in the C-suite. So where does that tension between the CEO and CMO come from? A successful CMO is integral to a great digital strategy or transformation, but it's not always down to a lack of ability that leads the CMO to fail. I'm going to offer seven recommendations to...