In early December, we shared that the early read on Q4 search volume was likely to be a rebound from Q3’s near-bottom results. It was—and it was better than we initially expected.

Opened search volume in Q4 was up 8% quarter-over-quarter and 13% year-over-year, making it the first Q4 since 2020 to post QoQ growth.

The strong performance creates an optimistic end to a cofounding year, suggesting that, indeed, we ended the year without a strong narrative around the market. In our upcoming report, we’ll examine this while looking forward to the intersection of the executive search market and the macro trend predictions.

An area we’ll explore further: The share of new searches going to executive search firms.

Though we don’t yet have fully enriched search data for Q4, the above chart shows how in the last two major downturns to executive search—the COVID freeze and 2022’s H2 crash—the share of searches going to search firms dropped in concert with the market’s overall opened search volume, suggesting that in-house teams and VC/PE talent partners handle a greater share of the executive recruiting work when search volume is lower or macro conditions are uncertain.

In fact, our last newsletter hit on this, documenting a recent True Search survey in which VC/PE talent partners self reported spending more time on running searches in 2023.

The takeaway here, perhaps, is that all sides of the executive search market can better capacity plan by following macro dynamics.