Over the past two years, recruiters in the executive and
managerial space have observed significant changes in hiring
practices, the most important being a shift from an employer-driven
market to a candidate-driven market. Following this trend, new data
indicates the talent market is now overwhelmingly driven by top
performers. Recruiters who responded to the most recent
MRINetwork Recruiter Sentiment Study provide
cautionary advice to employers who haven’t yet awakened to the new

“I have been recruiting for nearly 11 years and I have never
seen the market more candidate-driven than it is now. Candidates
have choices and ‘A’ players are being heavily courted,” said a
recruiter responding to the study. According to the report, in the
second half of 2013, 79 percent of recruiters described the labor
market as candidate-driven, up 12 percent from a year ago.
FFP August 2013

The executive and managerial market continues to be so
candidate-driven, because the talent pool remains weak. As the
economy rebounds, average candidates simply will not do – employers
want star players to help them move their businesses forward. This
leaves top performers at a strong advantage. Multiple job offers
provide these candidates with more bargaining power and the ability
to reject less desirable work agreements. According to the study,
49 percent of candidates refused job offers as a result of
accepting an offer with another company, up 16 percent from the
first half of 2013.

MRINetwork recruiters report several reasons
for why more jobs are being turned down:

  1. Qualified candidates are hard to find and also difficult to
    move. New jobs are not offering high enough salaries or enough
    benefits to incent a move.
  2. Top candidates are interviewing with multiple companies and
    have multiple offers to consider.
  3. Good candidates are becoming more difficult and demanding.
    Employers haven’t caught up yet. They still think they can get a
    great candidate cheap.
  4. Employers are taking too long to complete the interviewing

With rejected job offers on the rise, the candidate-driven
market points to several things:

  1. Employer branding is more important than ever to entice star
    talent. “Companies should be re-visiting, from the top down, why
    their company is a great place to work, and why not,” said an
    MRINetwork recruiter.
  2. It is now crucial that employers find ways to streamline the
    hiring process to avoid losing their top picks. One recruiter
    noted, “Slow hiring processes give candidates access to more
    options and more time to rethink their reasons for making a
  3. Salary and benefit packages need to be aggressive, not simply
    market-competitive. Another recruiter added, “More employers need
    to consider offering a higher salary if their benefits are not as
    competitive with those currently provided to the candidate. Many
    employers looking to hire have cut back on benefits and this isn’t
    being covered by increased salaries.”
  4. Counteroffers are a reality, especially when it comes to top
    performers. Since exceptional candidates are frequently recruited
    from other companies, prospective employers should be prepared to
    offer a salary and benefits package that the current employer is
    not likely to beat.

The good news is that more employers are realizing the executive
and managerial market is candidate-driven. According to the study,
25 percent of employers are presenting job offers within two weeks
of the first interview, up 6 percent from the first half of

While the study results demonstrate that hiring trends are
highly favorable towards top performers in the executive and
managerial space, the data is not representative of overall hiring,
which the Federal Reserve noted in its most recent Beige Book, is
holding steady or increasing at a measured pace. Even still the
results are encouraging, showing consistent signs of economic

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