Nearly all of New York City's top executive recruiting firms maintained or slightly increased their local staffs in 2011. Recruiting leaders said they are honing their specialized expertise, especially in life sciences and technology.
On Monday, Crain's New York Business published its annual list of the New York area's 25 largest executive recruiting firms, ranked by number of local recruiters. Twenty-one of the firms either added some recruiters to their staffs or kept the same number. Of the companies that decreased in size over 2011, none lost more than four recruiters.
“If you go back to 2008 (or) 2009, there was a significant cutback, just because the business came under such stress,” said Anthony LoPinto, managing director at Korn/Ferry International's New York office.
Korn/Ferry's numbers stayed about constant from 2010 to 2011, with some 45 New York area recruiters and a national total of about 250. LoPinto said about half of those recruiting consultants are new to the company and that current recruiter numbers are “not too dissimilar” from the pre-recession figure.
LoPinto said his and other recruiting firms are increasing specialization, especially in in-demand areas like health services, technology and the biotech middle ground between the two. Advances in biotechnology are also fueling hiring at the venture capital firms that invest in them, he said.
The New York-based recruiter Execu-Search Group expanded to Boston this year. “It's a natural extension to our firm to get a footprint on the northeast corridor,” said CEO Edward Fleishman.
Fleishman also said specialization is key for candidates looking for jobs and for recruiters looking for candidates. “The generalists out there are very important, but specialized areas are what gets jobs today and what gets higher pay today,” Mr. Fleishman said.
In addition to specialization, “a transportable book of business will always be in demand,” even in a tough job market for legal and financial services, Fleischman said.
LoPinto said the outlook for financial services hiring isn't necessarily as gloomy as popular pessimistic opinion is making it out to be, especially when thinking beyond investment banking.
“When we think about financial services, we need to think more broadly,” LoPinto said, adding that hiring is much more active in consumer banking, insurance and real estate, as well as in risk and compliance departments. Financial technology and electronic trading are also part of “a very active side of our business,” he said.
Across industries, one of the most in-demand executive positions is the chief information officer, LoPinto said. Companies are looking for leaders who can strengthen digital strategy. Recruiters seek candidates from companies that were ahead of the curve in establishing an online presence.
“Companies today are very actively taking a look at their technological platforms and backbones and making investments,” LoPinto said.