New Report Highlights the Importance of Executive Search in the War for Global Talent

  • Research questioned over 650 Business and HR leaders across 13
  • 93% of business leaders plan to use Executive Search in recruiting for senior roles.
  • Only 30% of HR Leaders, globally, are confident their In-House Recruitment always finds the best possible candidates for senior positions.
  • The top priorities when deciding how to hire for senior roles are experienced support and industry knowledge.
  • 91% of leaders agree that Executive Search Consultants need to develop their international skills.

(Sept. 28, 2020) A new report launched by Signium, a global executive search and leadership consultancy firm, shows that Executive Search is valued for bringing huge benefits to business by sourcing top talent from across the globe. The vast majority of business leaders, in both listed and private international companies, plan to use Executive Search, with 93% of business leaders, globally, saying that in 2025 they would rather use Executive Search (ES) than In House Recruitment (IHR) for senior positions.

The research questioned leaders on the importance of Executive Search versus In-House Recruitment and found that 70% of HR leaders and 55% of business leaders are not completely confident in their In-House Recruitment processes: the study reports that only 45% of business leaders and just 30% of HR leaders strongly agree that their IH Recruitment process would be able to find the best possible candidates for senior roles.

Both Executive Search and In-House Recruitment have invaluable roles to play in attracting talent, with IH Recruitment working well for junior and mid-management roles. Executive Search remains extremely important to ensure companies find the best possible candidates for all roles, particularly for senior positions.

The new report reveals that the top priority for business and HR leaders when deciding how to hire for a senior management position is experienced support (69%), closely followed by industry knowledge (67%), with only 28% of respondents considering low recruitment costs a priority. These insights are supported by AESC’s recent 2020 research.

In this independent survey, commissioned by Signium and conducted by Censuswide, over 9 in 10 (91%) leaders agreed that as jobs become increasingly more international, ES Consultants need to develop their international skills. The countries in strongest agreement were China (98%) and India (100%) – it’s perhaps no surprise that China and India, countries which are continually competing for fastest economic growth, understand the value of international assessment skills in the war for global talent. This can be compared to just 84% of leaders in South Africa and 86% of leaders in the USA.

The research was overwhelmingly positive about the value of Executive Search in recruiting for senior positions. Business and HR leaders identified 7 key benefits of using ES: sector experience, talent identification, global reach, efficiency, business development, value for money and confidentiality.

Drs Peter de Jong, Managing Partner NL & Vice President Marketing Global Board at Signium, concludes: We believe that the use of Executive Search for senior executive positions strengthens the future of companies and organisations: we are delighted that this research supports our view and  reaffirms that, when recruiting for senior roles, clients demand in-depth market knowledge, access to and understanding of international industries and sectors.

Read the full report: The added value of Executive Search versus In House Recruitment: How to find excellent senior leaders’


The research was commissioned by Signium and conducted globally by Censuswide, an independent market research company, with a sample of 677 Business and HR leaders. The sample was gathered from 13 countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, South Africa; China, India, Japan; Brazil, Canada, Mexico, USA.

About Signium

Signium is one of the world’s leading executive search and leadership consulting firms with an extensive history dating back to the 1950s with offices in key business cities around the globe. We look beyond the qualifications and background of an individual candidate to consider culture fit and client values, something we call the application of “intelligence and intuition.” With local passion, knowledge, and a partner-led approach, we advise senior business leaders on developing their skills, their people, and their organizations.

Signium was a founding member of the global industry standards body, the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC).

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