“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

That is how Charles Dickens began his classic A Tale of Two Cities. But he might well have been talking about the year 2020 if he were still with us.

I wonder if there is anyone alive who has not been touched by Covid-19 in some way. Whether with respect to family, friends, acquaintances, or loved ones, workwise, or financially… “It was the worst of times.”

For the grief, pain and hardship the year and the virus have brought to millions, we offer our sincerest wishes for a better future.

So where does the “best of times” come in?

In the career management market, specifically among our clients, it has been frankly a very good year. “It was the best of times!” We served significantly more clients than ever before. Why? Many executives in the US saw their industries or companies impacted and decided to change direction. We also accelerated our growth in Europe, Middle East, Africa. Under the direction of our EMEA managing director, Tomasz Lisewski, we saw many clients there also benefit from our services.

All told, clients joined us for many reasons, however, here are their chief motivations. (See the “Reasons to Make a Change” graphic.)

Interestingly, unemployment was less of an issue for these clients. Only 29% or so saw this as a motivator. That suggests that more executives are becoming proactive about managing their most important pre-retirement asset: their careers.

Our Clarity Program© is the first or “Targeting” step in our five-step career change process. It remains a key ingredient that helps clients who are undecided about their career direction. It’s no wonder that almost 40% of our clients this year were unclear of this goal. We helped to clarify their career and personal priorities up front before they begin their career search. Clients gave our Clarity Coaches a 97.4% “Excellent” rating in 2020 as well as glowing comments such as…

The Clarity program is a nice way of summing up and double checking if I really know which path I want to proceed in my further career. It was also a brilliant in presenting my SWOT analysis in a way that is not only a list of strengths, weaknesses, preferences etc. but rather a comprehensive description that could be used e.g. on a job interview.”
[Agata Lewandowska, January 2021]

We also saw a swing to the higher income brackets in 2020.

Presumably this occurred as the knock-on effects of Covid-19 began to affect not only hourly wage earners but the executive ranks as well. As you can see from the “Most Recent Salary Range” graphic, the largest group of clients previously earned “$100-200k” but we saw a lot more of the $200-300k and the “ultra” high earners above $300k as well.

In many ways this is not surprising as higher-income executives are more likely to already know about services such as ours and to take advantage of them for the time-saving and frustration-reducing effect that the Barrett Group offers for such professionals.

Let us consider also the expectations of these clients as they joined the Barrett Group. What were they looking for? Very often we hear from executives who have been in the same job for years that they have little to no clue as to how to look for a job in this day and age and they therefore readily understand that they need help from an expert who helps hundreds of clients every year, regardless of economic conditions, to clarify their career objectives and then discover the positions of their choice—usually through the “unpublished market” where some 75% of our clients typically land.

Overall, these clients are looking for an effective job search campaign (84%), followed by access to decision makers (73%).

Particularly now during the Covid-19 era, the transferability of experience and skills is a very strong motivator, too, because when you are changing roles, industries, and perhaps location, you need to demonstrate your relevance to the prospective employer, and that is one of our specialties.

Clients often do not recognize the big impact we have during the interview and negotiation stage of the process up front, but they certainly do when the offer (usually the second, enriched offer) actually arrives. Here is one example of a client reaction to his enriched second offer:

“Quick update. Good news. I accepted [employer]’s offer for Senior Vice President, Global Finance and Strategy last night… The discussion with [hiring manager] went great. It resulted in… They increased the offer by $55,000 ($25k salary, $30k bonus)… “Thanks for all your help throughout the process.”
[Anonymous but very happy client in Q4 2020]

So where did clients land in 2020, given all of the upheaval in the industrial landscape with some business sectors failing while others boom? (See the “Client Landings 2020 by Industry” graphic.)

Clearly the health care sector was extremely vibrant; per our definition this includes pharmaceutical manufacturers, equipment suppliers, and hospital operators. It is not surprising that technology companies did well, too, as they have boomed in the general market (e.g., working and learning from home). Retail/wholesale includes on-line and bricks and mortar businesses, both of which did extremely well, even benefitting from Covid-19. See Amazon, for example, but Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and many others also performed extremely well in 2020 and therefore hired to expand their ranks accordingly.

Remember that these are the industries where clients landed, not necessarily the industries they came from.

Indeed, we helped scores of clients change industry out of necessity in 2020. How long does our process take? Well, that varies with our clients’ focus. Clients who focus on the process and are willing to do the work achieve success relatively quickly (90% within 6-12 months), depending of course on the specificity of their searches.

Overall, clients who landed in 2020 did so as you can see in the graphic entitled “Average Duration of Career Search 2020,” with 50% landing on a moving average of just 14 weeks while 100% landed within a moving average of 25 weeks.

That is why we have to say, for our clients, 2020 was certainly “the best of times.”

We can help you as well to clarify your objectives and develop a successful career change campaign so that 2021 can bring good things for you, too.

We make it our job to help you find yours. Why not make 2021 a truly happy new year… Give us a call.

Peter Irish
The Barrett Group




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