Grey logo tab top
Blog Post

Trends Impacting Executive Search and Recruiting: Part 1

With over two decades of experience in the executive search industry, countless trends have impacted the way I approach my work. Today, clients are navigating a complex web of emerging technologies, new regulations, changing workplace dynamics, and shifting company and candidate expectations. In this blog post – the first of a series – I’ll dive into some of the most impactful trends currently influencing executive recruiting and share insights from my experience to help both companies and candidates understand and adapt to these changes. Whether you’re a seasoned executive or a hiring manager looking to attract top talent, understanding these trends is crucial for staying competitive in today’s rapidly changing job market.

Trend #1: Heightened Value of Company Culture in Executive Recruiting

One of the most significant shifts I’ve observed since the beginning of my career is the growing emphasis on company culture. In today’s competitive job market, top executive candidates are not only seeking high salaries and prestigious titles; they are increasingly prioritizing the cultural fit of an organization. This is because a company’s culture can significantly impact an executive’s job satisfaction and performance. Executives want to align themselves with companies whose values resonate with their own, where they can see themselves making meaningful contributions and where their leadership style can thrive.

Many executives now scrutinize the culture of a potential employer as much as the job responsibilities or compensation packages. During screenings and interviews, they look for signs of a supportive environment, opportunities for professional growth (their own, and the people they will be leading), and a workplace that fosters innovation and collaboration. Ultimately, the alignment between a company’s culture and an executive’s personal and professional values is a key factor in their decision to join – and stay – with an organization.

Aligning candidates with the right job requires thoroughly researching and understanding a company’s culture to make sure an individual’s values, work ethics, and professional goals resonate with the company’s environment. By ensuring a cultural fit, recruiters help foster employee satisfaction, retention, productivity and, ultimately, a company’s long-term success.

Trend #2: Ban on Noncompete Agreements

The newest trend shaping executive recruiting is the impact of the ban on noncompete agreements. In April, the FTC made a significant decision to ban noncompete clauses to promote employee mobility and foster a more dynamic labor market. Because around 18% of US workers were previously covered by noncompetes, this new law will impact approximately 30 million people!

At Grey and among our network, this ban is viewed as a positive move. In fact, we polled our LinkedIn followers and, among 135 voters, over 85% agreed or strongly agreed with the FTC’s decision to ban noncompete clauses.

Over my career, I’ve seen how non-competes create a sense of fear among executive candidates, making them wary of being locked into a company without the freedom to pursue better opportunities. This fear often overshadowed the job’s potential benefits and deferred talented individuals from joining organizations that enforced strict noncompete clauses. Additionally, companies were spending significant amounts on legal fees to draft, review, and enforce these agreements. At the same time, I’ve seen many successful businesses thrive without relying on noncompetes, even in highly regulated environments, by focusing on – you guessed it – creating a positive company culture.

The ban on noncompetes will encourage companies to further increase their focus on company culture, and to invest in their executives’ well-being, professional development, and job satisfaction. When a company nurtures a culture of growth, transparency, and mutual respect, executives are more likely to stay for the long term, reducing turnover naturally. And there are still many protections available for businesses, such as confidentiality agreements and internal security measures.

Trend #3: Return to Office Requirements for Executive Positions

One of my favorite trends to discuss with our executive search clients is return to office (RTO) requirements, which have drastically influenced executive recruiting in recent months. Despite the end of the pandemic, candidates’ lifestyles and preferences have changed indefinitely, and workplace flexibility remains a top priority for many. At the executive level, flexibility is no longer considered a perk – it’s an expectation.

Fortunately, around 95% of the companies we work with offer some form of workplace flexibility. These arrangements might not be fully remote but often involve hybrid schedules, allowing employees to balance professional responsibilities with personal needs.

The companies that do insist on 100% in-office attendance face unique challenges in attracting executive talent. Some positions see around a 40% decline in candidates, which means those recruiters can expect a longer time-to-fill for roles compared to those offering flexible arrangements. Businesses enforcing in-office requirements will also need to compensate with higher salaries, increased PTO, or enhanced benefits such as daycare support and pet insurance to remain competitive.

Ultimately, while many executives appreciate the value of in-person collaboration, the emphasis on mandatory office attendance can be a deterrent. Balancing in-office requirements with flexibility and robust benefits packages is essential.

Don’t go it alone. Navigate recruiting trends with a seasoned executive search partner

The landscape of executive recruiting is evolving rapidly, driven by these trends and others that I plan to cover in a part 2 post soon. For businesses seeking top-tier leadership, partnering with a skilled retained search firm is crucial. Grey’s expertise, extensive network, and personalized approach can help businesses identify and secure the best candidates. Discover how our tailored executive search solutions can help you achieve your strategic goals.

Share this post:

Stop the revolving
door of


Having trouble attracting top talent? Need a better approach for retaining your best people? Looking for the perfect culture match? Drop us a line today and let us know how we can help.
Scroll to Top