Five surprising trends in executive hiring 2022

AboveBoard | Mar 23, 2022

Key takeaways from our February 2022 CxO Webinar: Hot Trends in Executive Hiring.

The Great Reshuffling is real. In the last year, the workforce at large has shifted, with job seekers searching more intentionally for opportunities that better align with their personal and professional goals. Voluntary turnover is at an all-time high. And as it turns out, this shift is affecting every level of the workforce, from entry-level employees to C-suite executives.

“It’s no surprise that senior-level folks are part of this Great Reshuffling,” says Joanne Rencher, Founder and CEO at Joanne Rencher & Associates. “People are looking to find an intersection between their profession, their purpose, and their passion.”

As part of AboveBoard’s February CxO Sessions, we chatted with Joanne and two other experts—Portia Raphael, Senior Director, Onsite Talent Center of Excellence at Insight Partners; and Robin Erickson, Vice President, Human Capital at The Conference Board—about 2022’s hot trends in executive hiring.

With the Great Reshuffling in mind, here are the five executive hiring trends that talent experts are seeing—and how to navigate them to find the best fit.

Hiring companies are getting more creative

In this period of unknown, hiring companies are thinking more broadly about what a potential candidate may bring to the table. The focus now is on the best talent for the position, with less focus on experience in a specific industry.

“People are moving outside of their usual industries, and clients are okay with that,” Jo says. “They’re looking for the best talent. And sometimes that means getting a little bit creative.”

There’s also more of a focus on potential. “Many companies are proactively trying to fill talent pools without having specific positions open,” Robin says. “The focus is on potential rather than exact skills or experience.”

And as Portia observes, hiring companies have shifted to a space of openness. “There’s a lot more intentionality,” she says. “There’s a lot more openness to sector switchers, to functional areas shifting.”

The demand for quality talent is at an all-time high

Job seekers hold a lot of power right now. And their focus should be on companies that can quickly and effectively make decisions. 

“If you’re in a process where it’s taking you months and months to get through to the next step, I would encourage job seekers to look elsewhere,” Portia says. “You want to be on a team with folks who are willing to make these decisions quickly and decisively, because it shows that they’re reacting to the market. It’s a good sign that the business itself will be able to do the same.”

Organizations are shifting their strategies for diverse slates

As more organizations emphasize the importance of diversity in the workplace, recruiters are changing the way they approach underrepresented candidates: by evolving the definition of qualified and providing additional training or internal support where needed.

“I spoke with an executive recruiter last year and she said that it’s often difficult to find diverse candidates for certain executive positions,” Robin says. “So now, these recruiters are creating slates for executive positions with a caveat that says, ‘This person has these skills, but not these, and the organization needs to shore up this candidate by providing additional training or [offering them support] via other executives.’”

This monumental shift in hiring ideology both levels the playing field and offers underrepresented candidates a fair shot at executive roles that may otherwise be out of their reach. 

HR, sales, and marketing skills are in high demand

Our experts have seen a particular executive hiring trend within the Private Equity and Venture Capital spaces: These companies are hiring Human Resources and Head of Talent Acquisition earlier in the company life cycle. Chief People Officers are especially in high demand.

“Usually, you can wait until you’re up to 50 or 100 people to really make those people team investments,” Portia says. “But we’re seeing those key roles hired very early on, which I think is exciting.”

According to Joanne, job seekers in the HR space should find different ways to create additional value by learning about data science and analytics. “If you know what it means to use data to tell a story and to make predictions about talent for your company, you have a lot of value,” she says. “It's never been more vital to sort of upskill and reskill if you're in that world because the demand is huge and you can really set yourself apart.” 

A similar executive hiring trend is appearing in sales and marketing roles, with candidates jumping levels more quickly than usual. According to Portia, those job seekers shouldn’t be afraid of applying for a role—even if it may be a step or two up from their usual. 

“We’re seeing lots of sales and marketing roles closing very quickly. The top talent is very much in demand there,” she says. “So if you're a company looking for a Chief Revenue Officer, you're probably not going to get someone who's been a CRO before. Instead, you may be looking at someone who was the Head of Sales or the VP of Sales.”

Portia continues, “If you're at those levels, don't be afraid to apply for something where you don’t feel you’re quite at the requisite level. Just apply. It doesn’t hurt!” 

Age bias is unavoidable — but there are ways to combat it

Age bias is real, and an unavoidable phenomenon that all people will experience at a certain point. Especially in the technology industry, which skews towards younger workers.

Fortunately, job seekers can combat this phenomenon by packaging their experience in terms of competencies & accomplishments instead of years. “I tell my clients and those in my circle to embrace aging,” Joanne says. “It gives you more value in so many ways, especially if you can package it well. Articulate your story in terms of skills and competencies as opposed to years, and leverage the experience and expertise that you’ve built.”

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