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HomeNewsHunt Scanlon Media Says Executive Recruiting Sector Declined 12%

Hunt Scanlon Media Says Executive Recruiting Sector Declined 12%

Hunt Scanlon Media has released its annual productivity report of leading executive recruiters. In the U.S. and globally, billions of dollars poured into the high-end recruiting sector in 2023, but at a slower rate than in previous years.

“Market turbulence and a soft economy impacted most executive recruiters who pulled through a challenging year,” said Scott A. Scanlon, CEO of Hunt Scanlon. “The recruiting sector declined 12.2% in 2023 and hardest hit were recruiters serving the tech stack, VC and high growth companies,” he noted.

According to data analysis conducted by Hunt Scanlon, 70% of U.S. recruiting firms on its Top 50 ranking reported negative growth. But there were exceptions: No. 22 Modern Executive Solutions earned the distinction as the fastest growing search firm of 2023, rising 40%. No. 7 ZRG Partners, which moved up two spots on the rankings, was up 31% driven by programmatic M&A, giving it the distinction as the fastest growing search firm among the Top 20.

“Strong tailwinds in the human capital management (HCM) sector stand to benefit the search industry and will drive growth moving forward,” said Mr. Scanlon. But it remains a highly cyclical and fragmented market. “For this reason, M&A is a crucial lever for industry leaders seeking sustained levels of outperformance over the next decade,” he added.

Powering the consolidation trend are the acquisition targets themselves. Hunt Scanlon said in a recent poll it conducted that 51% of search firms are planning to explore M&A solutions over the next 24 months.

“An equally important lever tied to M&A is diversification,” said Mr. Scanlon. “Acquiring new HCM platform verticals – including interim and on-demand talent solutions, leadership assessment, coaching, and culture consulting – is picking up pace. These offerings, with more stable and recurring revenue streams, will give the recruiting industry more resiliency to macroeconomic headwinds,” he noted.

Hunt Scanlon Report Highlights:

  • The Hunt Scanlon ‘Top 50’ U.S. Recruiting Firms produced revenues of $6.047 billion in fees generated in 2023, a 12.2% decline

  • The Hunt Scanlon ‘Big 5’ Global Recruiting Firms reported $6.731 billion in professional fees, a decline of 3.9%. Russell Reynolds Associates moved up two spots in the rankings to No. 2

  • A wave of consolidation and diversification into aligned HCM markets will fuel M&A activity in 2024 and extend into 2029

  • The executive search industry is poised for growth by leveraging strong momentum in the HCM market. This will be driven by advancements in AI and technology – which will enhance service delivery and effectiveness – and a growing need for strategic human capital advisory solutions