In 2022 we saw leadership hiring draw a rapid decline, in stark contrast to the previous boom year. The reduced demand for executive roles was a result of tough public and private market conditions, which greatly impacted leadership hiring.

In our latest leadership hiring benchmarks report that focuses on FY22, we analyzed more than 25,000 executive search records to provide executive recruiters and talent leaders with data-backed insights to help them both gain a better understanding of the industry, market, and environment they operate in and make more informed decisions.

Key Trends:

  • While leadership hiring in 2022 was only down 14% compared to 2021, it declined rapidly throughout the year–down 43% in Q4 compared to the first quarter
  • VC saw the sharpest decline in leadership hiring, with late-stage VC executive openings were down 57% in Q4 2022 compared to the first quarter of the year
  • PE also saw a significant decline in leadership hiring, with searches decreasing 37% from its peak in the first quarter of the year

Download Thrive’s 2022 Executive Compensation & Talent Benchmarks Report. 

Search Volume Trends: Different Asset Classes Look Different

While VC and PE asset classes both saw YoY declines in executive hiring, VC-backed companies contributed to the sharpest decline in search volume. 

This, though, is mostly a result of the drastic QoQ increases the asset class saw from mid 2020 through late 2021, as VC deal value rose and capital was deployed. As that has declined, so, too, has the hiring. 

PE, on the other hand, took a much more conservative approach to hiring—despite a similar infusion of capital in 2020 and 2021.

Certain Roles Are Seeing Growth; It’s Just A Matter of Where

Though the market, overall, is depressed, companies are pivoting to efficient, sustainable growth. With that comes the need for different type of leadership. 

Across nearly all the asset classes we track, CEO and CFO functions saw either YoY or QoQ growth in Q4 2022: a sign that companies are searching for different types of skill sets at a critical juncture. 

In PE, particularly, Q4 seemed to mark strong growth in opened searches across a variety of additional roles.

Search Duration is Lengthening, But Placed Candidates Are Being Found As Fast As Ever

Aside from the COVID-boom where searches moved at a blistering pace, the time it takes to identify a placed candidate has normalized and now sits in a similar position to where it did pre-COVID. Actually placing that candidate, on the other hand? That’s taking longer.

Comparing Q4 2022 to Q4 2021, it’s taking a week and a half longer now to complete placement of an identified candidate. Throughout 2022, it consistent took longer when viewing the trend on a QoQ basis, suggesting that a challenging macro climate hasn’t just cut hiring, but slowed the hiring processes for roles that still need to be filled.

Want more data like this, including up-to-date compensation data by function and asset class? 

Get access to the full benchmark report here.