The 2019 BlueSteps Career Outlook for Senior Executives

The 2019 BlueSteps Career Outlook for Senior ExecutivesEvery year, BlueSteps.com, the job board hosted by the Association for Executive Search Consultants (AESC), publishes the results of their survey of senior executives and their opinions of economic, labor market, and hiring health on a global basis. The report makes for interesting reading and is a great counterpoint to what economists predict about labor market changes this year since the 1,436 executives surveyed in the BlueSteps survey reflect real-time hiring conditions and perspectives.

You’re welcome to download the whole report here, but to save you some time I have extracted the key insights in this post.

  • Optimism about the executive job market was high in 2018 and is lower in 2019 though commensurate with survey results in 2016 and 2017: 23% fewer executives are optimistic than last year.
  • The reason for this optimism, as evident in the chart below, is confidence in regional economies by a margin of 19%, followed by technology advances, political/business climates, and job market shifts.

Why, then, are more executives actually less optimistic about the 2019 job outlook? Here again, the reasons are revealed in the graph below.

  • More than 46% of those surveyed see their regional economies as the chief driving force behind labor market uncertainty, while 20% see political crises as the primary factor.
  • Interestingly, although only 7% of those surveyed believed there would be fewer executive roles available in 2019, this result was 16% less than those surveyed in 2018.

  • Less than 30% of executives surveyed are more optimistic about the global economy than in 2018 while more than 48% are less optimistic than in 2018.
  • Executives in emerging markets are more upbeat about the global economy than those in the US, Canada, or Europe, perhaps reflecting the varying political crises brewing in the latter regions.
  • Despite the pessimism revealed in the survey about the global economy, 43% more executives are more optimistic about the executive job market. Numerous survey respondents stated that they believed that economic conditions would create “a need for strong leaders who can help lead organizations through change.”

  • When asked to rank themselves, their industry, function, and organization with regard to their digital journeys, nearly 50% stated they were moderately to very ahead of the market, yet only 27% believed the same was true of their organization.
  • Asked to give advice on how to foster an innovation culture, respondents showcased continual learning, employee empowerment, constant growth and forward thinking, experimentation, and openness as imperative (in that order).
  • Over 60% of those surveyed indicated that innovation impacts their interest in a prospective role while only 3% said it does not. Demonstrating the influence of age on these perspectives, 62% of those 45-54 and 55-64 placed the highest value on innovation while only 48% of those 34 or younger agreed.
  • Those in higher-level executive roles were less likely to emphasize innovation as a key factor in their job hunt with 64% at the VP level labeling this as important to them. The results for C-suite leaders, CEOs/Presidents, and Board Directors ranged were 63%, 56%, and 57%, respectively.
  • When asked how long they expect their job searches to take in 2019, 64% responded “less than 6 months.” This result was 50% in 2018 which BlueSteps believes reveals the underlying confidence in the current strong job market.
  • Most senior leaders surveyed believe there are more career opportunities available to them in 2019 (34%), with 23% of CHROs seeing growth. CFOs and COOs see the least growth for themselves with 7% and 8%, respectively.

When it comes to which industries the surveyed executives expected to demonstrate the most growth in 2019, 70% stated the technology sector would see the most gains with healthcare coming in at 53% and professional services, consumer/retail, and financial services trailing behind.

Forecasts by country indicated that senior executives in Brazil are more confident about the 2019 job outlook (93%) than that of 2018 while only 20% of UK executives agreed. Brazilian executives also predicted a higher number of senior roles in 2019 (72%) versus a mere 14% foreseen by senior managers in Japan and Korea.

Lastly, when respondents were asked to name which markets they thought would see the most growth in 2019, 43% said India or China (tied), followed by the US (31%), Southeast Asia (26%), and Africa (24%). These expectations are similar to the UN’s 2019 World Economic Situation  and Prospects report with a 7.6% GDP gain predicted for India and a 6.6% gain predicted for China. Thirty-seven  percent fewer executives are expecting  growth in the US while 66% of leaders in Africa and 35% of those in India expected more economic growth in their respective regions.

To download the full report, visit BlueSteps.com. While you’re at it, check out their services for senior-level job seekers. BlueSteps is consistently one of top two job boards I recommend to my executive clients based on their association with AESC and their built-in recruiter database. If you elect to join BlueSteps, take advantage of my discount code – CherylSimpson20 – to knock 20% off your investment.

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