• Massive funding means search volume is on the rise—especially for VC firms.
  • High demand means candidates are in control of the conversation (and compensation packages).
  • Compensation is pacing inflation, and candidates are favoring remote or hybrid options.
  • Competition is stiff, so talent teams must devise strategies to close candidates faster.

Download Thrive’s 2021 Executive Compensation & Talent Benchmarks Report.

The public market rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic with a vengeance in 2021, with each quarter producing more open searches, raising more equity, and deploying more capital than the one before. What resulted was compensation inflation, high demand, and increased cycle times:

Business is booming in both private and public markets, creating new talent dynamics such as the great reshuffle, remote work opportunities, and compensation pacing consumer inflation. Speaking to these dynamics, Sam Jakola of Craft Ventures says, “We’re seeing a shift where candidates are in control of the conversations and timelines, and the remote-based environment that the pandemic has introduced has made things tougher. But once we get a candidate identified, the process can go very fast.” 

In our latest report, the 2021 Executive Compensation & Talent Benchmarks Report, we analyzed all of this and more…

  • Top trends across in-house, venture capital, private equity, and executive search firms.
  • Recurring challenges such as top candidates dropping out of late-stage searches.
  • How inflation is affecting the executive search market and compensation.
  • How much the search timeline has accelerated since the previous year.

Here we break down some key trends you need to know to remain competitive for hiring executive talent, along with a prediction on the 2022 exec search outlook.

Notable executive search trends

Below are a few of the most notable executive search trends we uncovered in the report.

HR Roles are High in Demand

Search volume across roles has increased across companies, regardless of size. Most notable is the 190% uptick in new HR executive roles with companies with up to 250 employees. Feedback from our community is that there is a big focus on HR leaders, and to get the right candidates placed sooner rather than later.

In-State and Out-of-State Comp is Leveling Off

While 2020 threw a curve ball with compensation, dipping in Q2 of 2020 — by 2021, in-state and out-of-state total compensation numbers were coming closer and leveling off. In Thrive’s recent webinar with Hunt Scanlon on February 8th, 80% of survey respondents in that webinar said that they are not discounting compensation for remote hires. That response is different than 2 years ago.

Top open searches with a focus on HR

Additionally, while there is a massive increase in open searches across all asset classes, in the table below, human resources (HR) shows the top growth, with a 251% increase in open searches across VC-backed roles.

Even more growth predicted in 2022

According to our executive search survey results, these trends show no signs of slowing any time soon. More than 77% of respondents expect an increase in executive searches in 2022.

Acceleration of search timelines

Competition is stiff, and companies are accelerating their timelines accordingly. Overall, days to close was 6% faster YoY. CFO/Finance roles were 1% slower to close compared to other roles.

Our 2021 Executive Compensation & Talent Benchmarks Report includes a deeper analysis on the trends discussed here, insights from leading talent partners, and benchmark data to help you hire more qualified talent in a competitive market. Download the report to see the illuminating full survey results from peers, which round out the quantitative data from 2021 with an outlook on the market in 2022.