A Look Across the Canadian Executive Search Market

Technology is transforming businesses everywhere. Having the right talent will be essential to help it deliver on its promise, says Jason Carmichael of Oxford + Richmond in Toronto. Mr. Carmichael recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss this and other challenges facing the search industry in the Great White North.

April 3, 2023 – The executive search industry in Canada is positioned for continued growth and innovation as it continues to provide valuable services to both employers and job seekers in the country. Critical to its ongoing success is the industry’s ability to adapt to changing market conditions and leverage new technologies to identify top talent.

Canadian businesses are investing more in digital transformation and adopting new technologies to improve efficiency and productivity, as well as to stay competitive in the global market, according to Jason Carmichael, founder and CEO of Oxford + Richmond in Toronto.

“Oxford + Richmond has, itself, invested in technologies that improve efficiencies, measure data and outcomes and improve client communications and work closely with organizations in the midst of these changes,” he said. “Continued advancements in transformative technologies like AI, IoT, VR/AR, cloud computing, blockchain, and 5G, will lead to new solutions for augmented, hybrid, and remote working, automation of routine tasks, and intelligent enterprises where systems and processes support each other. To prepare for this, businesses will need to integrate technology solutions and also ensure  they have the talent required to lead this transformation.”

Mr. Carmichael also notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend towards remote work in Canada, and many businesses are adopting hybrid work models that allow employees to work both in-person and remotely. “This has enabled search firms to locate key talent virtually anywhere in Canada and often globally,” he said. “Many organizations where forced, during the pandemic, to hire teams without benefit of in-person interviewing and, in most cases, hired successfully.”

Mr. Carmichael says that his firm has become even more sophisticated in hiring techniques that ensure fit and ultimate success.

There is a growing focus on sustainability in Canadian businesses, with many companies adopting environmentally-friendly practices and investing in sustainable technologies, according to Mr. Carmichael. “Canadians are increasingly concerned about the environment, and are looking for sustainable and eco-friendly products driving many businesses to respond by offering more sustainable options and reducing their carbon footprint,” he said. “Companies need to make sure that their environmental, social, and governance processes are moved to the center of their strategy and again, that they have the talent and leadership they need to harness this for a competitive advantage.”

Related: Canadian Executive Search Market Adapting to Change and Moving Forward

Looking ahead, Mr. Carmichael notes that competition for talent will continue to be fierce, and the trend of accelerated digital transformation will result in widespread workplace automation that will augment most jobs. “As a result, we will collaborate more frequently with intelligent machines and smart robots, which will have significant implications for the skills and talent that companies will require in the future,” he said. “This will necessitate reskilling and upskilling large segments of the workforce, as well as recruiting individuals who possess the skills required for the future. Companies will also need to overhaul their talent management strategies to continue to evolve to the changing dynamics of the talent market – the challenge is, most organizations don’t have the skill-set or knowledge to do so.”

Serving Canada

Oxford + Richmond has practice areas in executive and board-level search, consulting services, start-ups, VC’s and private equity, future leaders search, and diversity and inclusion. Mr. Carmichael brings extensive sales, consulting, corporate development and executive leadership experience in the sectors of pharmaceutical, medical device, hospital, and health technology. He has experience building and leading diverse teams, a passion for developing long-lasting relationships, and the ability to influence key stakeholders through effective negotiation and communication.  

Mr. Carmichael recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the Canadian search market and what he sees looking forward.

Jason Carmichael

Jason, what is the current climate for executive search in Canada?

The executive search industry in Canada is highly competitive and has been growing steadily in recent years, especially in major cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. The demand for executive search services is driven by the increasing need for organizations to find highly skilled and qualified executives to lead their businesses.

Despite the COVID pandemic, many companies in Canada continued to actively recruit for executive positions, especially in industries that had seen growth during the pandemic, such as technology, healthcare, and E-commerce and good executive search firms saw significant growth during this period. In our current post-pandemic environment, we continue to see a significant shift towards remote, or hybrid work, and virtual hiring processes. 

Has hiring been difficult for Canadian organizations?

Many organizations have struggled with finding top talent for key positions to guide them through the future. These remote hiring practices have enabled executive search firms to expand their reach and access talent from anywhere in the country, and often worldwide. However, the recent economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic has also led, in some cases, to slower hiring processes and decreased demand for certain positions. Technology companies that were driving hiring during the pandemic have been currently shrinking overall headcount. However, key roles become even more imperative during downturns in the economy or market uncertainty, and we still see significant demand at the senior levels. Overall, the climate for executive search in Canada remains dynamic and highly competitive. There remain significant opportunities for firms and executive search consultants with proven track records, and who take a progressive approach to building long-term relationships and leveraging technology to improve both the client and candidate experience, to provide valuable services to organizations looking for top talent and that will have an impact on organizations’ culture and bottom line.

“These remote hiring practices have enabled executive search firms to expand their reach and access talent from anywhere in the country, and often worldwide.”

What positions are you seeing most in demand? Which sectors are hiring the most?

In terms of sectors, some industries have been hiring more than others, including: information technology, healthcare, finance and insurance, professional services, and manufacturing. The manufacturing and healthcare sectors, in particular, have unique dynamics facing the industry specifically linked to an aging and quickly retiring workforce. These industries need to play catch-up with respect to its senior-level succession planning practices, which largely have been shelved or ignored. This represents a substantial opportunity for search firms over the coming years.

What is your forecast for 2023?

Some of this has been addressed collectively in the other questions… but essentially, we see continued strong demand for executive search services through 2023. Clients will continue to rely on search firms that have developed truly trusted advisory relationships, who understand the current market dynamics, have invested in technologies to better serve client needs, enhance communication and transparency, improve outcomes, have developed DEI practices to reduce bias and who have proven track records in successfully recruiting and retaining top talent to help drive their organizations into the future.

Related: Women in Canada Lagging Male Counterparts in the C-Suite

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

Share This Article


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments