Why are you peering through a keyhole at the market for executives?

Have you ever actually tried to look through a keyhole? If so, you know that your field of view is extremely limited. You can really only see a small swath of the room on the other side. Inevitably, you miss anything too far to the right, left, top, or bottom. Yet that is exactly how most professionals look at the executive job market.

Most executives only know about executive recruiters and on-line job postings. In effect, these professionals are peering through a keyhole at the market for executives—when at least 75% of the market is hidden from view. That’s why we call it the unpublished market. (See So How Does the Unpublished Market Actually Work? for more details.)

In fact, the market for executives is huge—and growing.

In the US, for example, this market* now comprises approximately 4.7 million individuals. With market growth of 0.7% and another 138,000 changing jobs, all told, the executive opportunities in the US numbered about 170,000 jobs in the last year.

But let’s add in Europe, the UK, and the Middle East. Now the market expands by another 3.2 million. It has grown by 1% in the past year and has also seen another 128,000 change jobs. The subtotal of executive positions changing jobs in this region is about 160,000 executives in the past 12 months.

All told, this means the executive market reached 7.9 million executives. It grew by 0.9% offering about 330,000 opportunities to change jobs in the past year.

Perhaps you understand what we mean about looking through a keyhole now?

The executive job market is a huge and dynamic market if you know how to look at it.


Construction currently ranks at the top of the list of industries employing executives. It has more than 500,000 but with only a 0.07% growth rate. Financial Services comes in second with about 459,000 execs but a robust 2.2% growth rate. The Top 25 Industries chart provides more information on circa 87% of the executive roles under discussion.

What activities are all these executives involved in? The Top 25 Specializations chart explains.

As usual, New Business Development and Sales Management lead the way. These are comprised of more than 800,000 and 700,000 executives respectively. They are followed by Finance, Budgeting, and Business Planning. Remember, this is a list of specializations as cited by executives on LinkedIn. It is probable that each executive will cite more than one specialization and thus be counted in several categories. Still, this chart provides an understanding of the relative frequency of specializations. Some of the specializations also serve as ideal conduits for executives wishing to transfer to another role, industry, or geography. (See Do You Have Tremendous Transferability?)

You might reasonably also ask, where are all of these roles geographically?

CB130_Top 25 Locations_Number of Executives

Historically, this data typically trends that New York has the largest population of executives but not necessarily the highest growth rate. The highest growth rates recently have indeed been outside of the US, and this is true in this case, too. The UAE, London, Paris, and Munich are all growing faster than any Top-25 location in the US.

Of course, each Barrett Group client has a career change team that provides a great deal more specific data about opportunities and the decision-makers who can offer them. Our data services comprise literally millions of executives on multiple continents.

Consider this:

  • Only about 33,000 of these exec roles were filled through recruiters;
  • Only circa 50,000 of these positions were filled through posted advertising;
  • Fully 247,000 of these opportunities are occupied by candidates who came through the unpublished market.

Why are you still peering through the keyhole and missing most executive opportunities?

Perhaps you need someone who can open the door for you. It would help if you had someone with 31 years of experience helping executives clarify their objectives, discover appropriate opportunities, present themselves effectively, negotiate an exceptional compensation package, and on-board successfully.

Perhaps you need the Barrett Group. Let’s talk and find out!

Peter Irish, CEO
The Barrett Group

*Editor’s Note:

In this particular Chairman’s Blog, “executives” will generally refer to the Vice President, Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Information Officer, Managing Partner, and President titles. Unless otherwise noted, the data in this Update will largely come from LinkedIn. It represents a snapshot of the market as it was at the time of the research.

Is LinkedIn truly representative? Here’s a little data: LinkedIn has approximately 830 million users. (See Source.) It is by far the largest and most robust business database in the world, now in its 19th year. LinkedIn defines the year-over-year change (YOY Change) as the change in the number of professionals divided by the count as of last year.

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