Year end State of the Industry report shows 9% uptick over 2010

The AESC’s 2011 Annual Report on the Retained Executive Search Industry shows that the retained executive search industry experienced continued momentum during 2011 with a 9% yearly increase, bringing total industry revenues to an estimated $10.41 billion. 2011 saw the third highest revenues on record for the industry, not far off from all time industry high of $11 billion reached in 2008.

Commenting on the success of 2011, AESC President Peter Felix, said: “The continued growth within the executive search industry during a period of sustained global economic volatility illustrates how critical and valuable the services are that our member firms deliver each day. While not all industries and regions saw growth in executive recruitment in 2011, the overall trends were positive and demonstrate areas of opportunities for senior executives around the world.”

AESC President, Peter Felix, commented: “Given the extraordinary volatility in global economic confidence during the third quarter, due to the European debt crisis and uncertainty in the United States, it is no surprise that executive search activity has been affected. However, while search starts are down in most sectors and regions of the world, revenues have only been marginally affected due to the increased average fee per assignment.”

The global, average number of new executive searches started in 2011 rose 5.4% over 2010 figures with North America and Europe contributing the most growth, up 9.7% and 4.7% respectively. Asia Pacific remained flat with only 0.2% growth and Central/South America saw a slight decline of 1%. Industry market share remained relatively flat across the board with the biggest growth seen in the Industrial (1.5%) and Consumer Products (1%) sectors. The financial sector decreased its share of the market by 2.3% and technology decreased by 1.2%.

Felix continued: “It is encouraging to see how strongly the search industry has come back from the deep recession of 2009, and that clients continue to actively employ executive search to combat the underlying talent shortage. We remain in very challenging markets, but I am convinced that retained executive search will continue as a key part of the management toolbox when looking for long term competitiveness and success.”
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The AESC State of the Executive Search Industry Report is quarterly research carried out by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) since 2004 on trends in the global retained executive search industry. Data for the report is collected from a consistent sample of AESC member search firms representing the activity of 1,430 executive search consultants in 46 countries worldwide. The AESC estimates that annual net revenues for the worldwide retained executive search industry totaled $10.41 billion in 2011.

About The Association of Executive Search Consultants

The Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) is the worldwide professional association for the retained executive search industry. The AESC's mission is to promote the highest professional standards in retained executive search consulting, broaden public understanding of the search process, and serve as an advocate for the interests of its member firms. For more information, or to view the AESC Code of Ethics and Professional Practice Guidelines, visit The AESC also offers the BlueSteps career management service for senior executives, as well as CorporateConnect, a service for the HR community offering executive search industry information and access to the AESC membership.

About BlueSteps

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 8,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 75,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at


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