What Retained Search has in Common with Mark Twain

Executive search has a lot in common with Mark Twain these days. Though executive search is about recruiting and Mark Twain (Samuel Clemmons) is about writing, rumors about their respective demise have been strangely similar.

Retained Search Is Doing Just Fine, Thank you

Retained search revenue grew by 8.8% quarter-on-quarter and 18.4% year-on-year, which is especially noteworthy considering the profession has recorded two consecutive years of record-breaking growth. That statistic comes from the most recent State of the Industry survey by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC). Average revenue per consultant is on the rise 11% year-on-year. All told, the number of searches, total revenues and average revenues per consultant increased. Overall, this indicates that clients are turning to our profession for their critical executive talent needs and would suggest that we are on track for another strong year.

Rumors of Retained Search’s Demise

However, a good many thought leaders have been predicting the downfall of traditional retained executive search since the economic downturn a decade ago. Consequently, for the past several years, retained executive search firms have had a great deal in common with Mark Twain.

After learning that his obituary had been published in the newspaper,  Mr. Twain is reported to have said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”  That’s the quote attributed to him, but it is not exact. To be more precise, what Mr. Twain actually said was, ‘The report of my death was an exaggeration.” Mark Twain clearly was alive at the time he said it.

Like Mark Twain, reports of the death of retained executive search have been greatly exaggerated

How LinkedIn Killed The Recruiting Industry

The Destruction of the Head Hunting Industry

LinkedIn Disintermediation

Without a doubt, LinkedIn has disintermediated executive search firms that have failed to distinguish themselves with a unique value proposition. But retained firms that make it a practice to stay ahead of the curve are benefiting handsomely from the seismic shift in executive search. Ahem.

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