Market for Finance Execs Heats Up

More than a quarter of executive job openings nationwide are in finance as job market shows positive traction; experienced IT staff, bachelor’s degrees also in demand.

market-for-finance-execs-heats-upby Pamela Wasley
CEO of Cerius Interim Executive Solutions

There are more than 1,100 executive job openings nationwide, 28 percent of which are finance positions, as many companies focus on recruiting chief financial officers and chief accounting officers  to balance budgets and invest less on executives in growth areas such as sales, marketing and R&D.

The historical trend of businesses analyzing year-end profits and expenditures has taken on even more importance today in light of fears of a double-dip recession and overall uncertainty in the marketplace. Savvy and experienced CFOs and CAOs will be the keys to successful companies weathering the economy and maintaining or growing market share.

The recently released “Cerius Executive Demand Index” spotlights C-suite recruiting and hiring trends to watch in early 2012. In addition to what is happening in finance departments nationwide, there also is significant demand for chief operating officers or vice presidents of operations, as well as chief executive officers or presidents, which tie in second place at 18 percent of all open positions. In unstable market conditions, a change of leadership in the CEO or COO role is often spurred on by investors and board members to help navigate roadblocks and change course.

Meanwhile, the “40th Annual Recruiting Trends” report from Michigan State University paints a positive picture for specific degree types in the new year. Those with bachelor’s degrees should expect a seven percent increase in hiring; MBAs, 6.4 percent; and doctorates, 12 percent. Hiring for associate’s degrees will stay level and master’s degrees should dip slightly by one percent. The report also projects most hiring to come from large companies.

65 percent of hiring managers and recruiters plan to add IT staff in the first half of 2012.

 A survey by the IT job site shows 65 percent of hiring managers and recruiters plan to add IT staff in the first half of 2012. More than a quarter (27 percent) expects to increase their IT staff by 20 percent. Seasoned professionals with six to 10 years of experience are in highest demand.

Missing in all of these projections, though, are growth indicators. Companies still appear to be taking a cautious approach to anticipated growth and expansion by investing in infrastructure such as operations and technology, but not outlaying budgets on resources such as marketing and business development.

Vice presidents of sales or business development account for only seven percent of all open positions in the Cerius report, and vice presidents of marketing constitute only five percent. The report highlights all publicly-listed executive job openings in the U.S. across multiple online databases. The data was screened and cross-checked to ensure there were no duplications in the job listings.

Other categories tracked by Cerius include chief information officers or chief technology officers, which make up 15 percent of open positions, and vice presidents of human resources, which make up only six percent, the latter in line with today’s unemployment numbers. Demand for vice presidents of engineering is the lowest and at the bottom of the priority list, making up only four percent of available positions.

The lack of demand for engineering leadership is indicative of businesses’ diminishing innovation and investment in research and development for the long-term future. With survival a top priority, unfortunately many U.S. companies are not taking risks or steps in new directions that could fuel their growth.

For now though, the outlook in the C-suite and beyond is at least showing positive traction. And, in this crazy economy, any good news is great news. 

Pamela Wasley is CEO of Cerius Interim Executive Solutions, the nation’s leading provider of interim executive management solutions to growth-focused businesses. For more information, visit or call (949) 250-0500.


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