Recruiters Project Executive Hiring Will Slowdown in Early 2019

One of our goals is to keep you aware of trends in executive job market. We talk to recruiters on a daily basis and poll them every month to determine what they project for the coming months.

You heard it here first, despite overall growth in the economy, executive recruiters we poll are telling us they are increasingly not confident the executive job market will remain robust throughout the first six months of 2019.

Our exclusive Recruiter Confidence Index fell sharply in December – long before the government shut down occurred. It started right after the elections in November. Recruiter confidence is a leading indicator for the economy and hiring, as recruiters talking to clients about upcoming positions frames their confidence in future hiring.

Recruiter confidence has now dropped from above 50% in October to 40% in December, a historically low level for recruiters. Meanwhile, the percentage of executive recruiters “not confident” has risen sharply to 19%. These levels have not been seen in four years and is a clear sign recruiters are expecting hiring activity to slow considerably in the first half of 2019 and possibly beyond.


For executive recruiters, this means the rapid expansion in searches in the last two years is coming to an end.

For executives, this means the environment for hiring is likely to slow. Job seekers can expect fewer opportunities to choose from. Employment isn’t expected to go to 10%, but it will be somewhat less of a seller’s (job seeker) market across all sectors.

You should be aware and ready for the projected slowdown and make sure you are in search for the right reasons and very careful if you do make a move that you’re moving into the right “frying pan,” as company dynamics may be changing at the new company.

With less optimism comes more competition. There’s a premium no matter what the job market on telling your best story of the value you bring, beyond the roles you’ve held, and negotiating the right deal for the place you do land.

As hiring slows, Don Weintraub, Managing Director of ExecuNet’s Career Strategy Group suggests to be successful in this market candidates should be nimble and quick. He advises, “The time to search for your next role is now – before the pace of hiring slows even more. Recruiter confidence, a leading predictor of new job openings, is no longer in your favor.”

It’s not all dark skies yet, but recruiters are forecasting dark clouds will appear on the horizon, so don’t put off your search efforts. Ramp things up now, so you have some momentum and a concrete plan before the projected leaner job market arrives.

We’ll have an update for you next quarter, hopefully, with a brighter forecast!

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson is ExecuNet's president and chief economist. An Arjay Miller Scholar, Mark received his MBA from Stanford University and a BA in economics from Yale University. He joined ExecuNet in 1993, with extensive marketing and new product and business development experience, having served as president and founder of A&M Associates, an investment management firm. Mark's corporate leadership experience includes several senior marketing and financial positions with RCA Global Communications (a GE subsidiary) and American Can Company.

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