Recruiters expect companies’ executive-hiring plans to brighten, with business-development and sales executives most in demand, according to a November survey by Norwalk, Conn.-based ExecuNet Inc., an online networking site and job board
About 26% of search firms expected their clients to add executive jobs over the next six months, compared with about 5% that expected their clients to cut or not fill open positions.
ExecuNet subtracts the second number from the first to calculate a hiring-index score. The 21-percentage-point difference between optimistic and pessimistic search firms in November was nearly 12 points greater than it was in October.
The survey also asked respondents to select as many as five job functions that they expected would experience the most growth in executive hiring. Business development ranked first, with about 18% of the total responses, and sales came in second at 17%. Respondents included 153 executive recruiters from different search firms.
Those job types also shared top billing in a year-ago survey. Moving up in the rankings were marketing and research and development. Finance, meanwhile, fell to seventh place after being the fourth-most-sought-after function in the year-ago survey.
ExecuNet President Mark Anderson said the rise of marketing and R&D, coupled with the slip of finance, suggests companies might be starting to focus more on growth than on cost-cutting.
“We hear from CEOs that they’re returning to growth strategies. It’s a sign that their businesses are recovering,” Mr. Anderson said.
The Alexander Group, a Houston-based executive-search firm, got about 14% of its revenue from filling marketing and business-development positions in 2009 but this year is on track to get about 25% of its business from those areas, says Managing Director Jane Howze.
“People have moved from crisis management to seeing opportunities and thinking about the future,” Ms. Howze said.
Write to Joe Light at [email protected]