Senior Hiring Improves In Surprising Industries

Go out and mingle with top headhunters — those gregarious talent scouts who are constantly scouring the world in search of managers to fill the top executive jobs — and these days you’ll find some most happy people.

In the rising U.S. economy, jobs are plentiful, demand for take-charge executives has become intense. Middle managers and beginners in the job market are also doing well. This is quite a change from three or four years ago, when hiring ran as slow as a dry creek. But a pickup has been clear for some time. Says Leslie Stern, a partner at Heidrick & Struggles, one of the biggest corporate recruiters: “I’ve been in this business for 38 years, and I’ve concentrated on financial services. And 2005 was the best year I ever had in all sectors of financial services.”

It was particularly strong for recruiters with such financial specialties as insurance, private banking and asset management, plus business consulting and outsourcing.

In business, outsourcing involves the contracting out of a business process to another party (compare business process outsourcing). The concept “outsourcing” came from American Glossary ‘outside resourcing’ and it dates back to at least 1981. Outsourcing sometimes involves transferring employees and assets from one firm to another, but not always. Outsourcing is also the practice of handing over control of public services to for-profit corporations.

Outsourcing includes both foreign and domestic contracting, and sometimes includes offshoring (relocating a business function to a distant country) or Nearshoring (transferring a business process to a nearby country). Financial savings from lower international labor rates can provide a major motivation for outsourcing or offshoring.

It was also a banner year for recruiting in many other lines of business, says Stern. “There has been a wonderful resurgence in the industrial sector — good old Rust Belt America.”

With some exceptions, of course. Says Brian Sullivan, chairman & CEO of the recruiting firm of Christian & Timbers: “The airline and the auto industries are not hot. They are so dead that they are starting to rot.”

“We are seeing a bi-modal market,” says Jay Gaines, CEO of Jay Gaines & Co. “A huge mass of people have been laid off, and they are still looking for jobs. They seem to have come to a dead end.”

” On the other hand,” he adds, “certain markets are so hot and candidates are so scarce that you need a gun.”

A main reason why recruiting in most areas of the economy is up is that, after five years or so of concentrating on cutting away at costs, companies now are starting to spend. They are putting more attention on new products, new markets and research and development. They are committing serious capital, and that is resulting in new hiring globally — not just in the U.S., but also in China, India, Europe and Brazil. In many companies in those countries, there is a great shortage of CEOs and other senior executives.

Says Hobson Brown, CEO, chairman and president of Russell Reynolds Associates, speaking of U.S. business leaders: “They are starting to build–at last.”

So there is a need for skills. Jay Gaines says he receives a couple of hundred resumes a day. And he knows how to deal with them.

Says he: “The greater the hype, the greater the desperation, the more suspicious I am of the credentials. A person who is confident will have a resume that is cleaner.”

This season’s college graduates also are doing well. When people have specific skills, they often can begin at higher starting salaries than in earlier generations.

Thanks to the energy boom, employers are placing big bets on upper-quartile graduates in geology, geophysics and petroleum engineering. They can expect to start at $80,000 a year (plus a $10,000 signing bonus), rising to $120,000 to $140,000 after five years.

Companies are using extraordinary tactics to hold on to good people once they are hired. In some cases, employees over age 50 are allowed to work at home three weeks out of four, come to the office one week out of four.

So long as demand for skills remains robust, the people who possess those skills will have great flexibility on the job.

Hiring, HR