Job Growth Steady in Environmental Services, Health Care and Life Sciences

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Feb. 3
Amid a disappointing corporate earnings season, the outlook for executive job growth did not waver in January, as search firms remain divided on when they expect to see signs of improvement in the top of the employment market. Despite this mixed forecast, pockets of six-figure job growth continue to be reported in several industries.

Introduced in May 2003, the Recruiter Confidence Index is based on a monthly survey of executive search firms conducted by ExecuNet, a private network for business leaders. Designed to forecast job growth at the executive level, a reading below 50 percent indicates recruiters expect the number of search assignments in the next six months will decrease. Independent analysis of the RCI has confirmed it is a leading indicator for the executive employment market.

According to January’s survey of 260 executive recruiters, 36 percent are confident or very confident the executive employment market will improve in the next six months, down slightly from 40 percent last month and up from all-time lows reached in November 2008 (26 percent). In 2008, executive search consultants reported a two percent decline in assignments, which marked the end of four consecutive years of double-digit growth (2004-07).

“While not immune to the problems plaguing the economy, the executive employment market has fared better than the broader labor market during this recession,” said Mark Anderson, president of ExecuNet. “In this type of an environment, agile executives capable of aligning themselves with specific markets are positioned to succeed, as much of the assignment growth in recent months has been concentrated in a select number of industries.”

Recruiters’ short-term confidence remained flat in January, as 16 percent were confident or very confident the executive employment market will improve during the next three months, virtually unchanged from 17 percent in December.

Where the Jobs Are
The industries recruiters expect will generate the greatest growth in executive-level job opportunities in 2009 include:

1. Environmental services/clean tech
2. Health care
3. Life sciences/pharmaceuticals
4. Energy
5. High tech

The top five functions expected to be in greatest demand during the year ahead are:

1. Business Development
2. Sales
3. Operations Management
4. Finance
4. Engineering

“The sudden rise of environmental services underscores the importance of monitoring the market and developing relationships with peers across a wide range of businesses,” said Anderson. “While there’s never a recession in the demand for effective leaders, knowing where to look for opportunities is vital to advancing your career at this level.”

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