Thinking of working abroad? Here is our view on the
international market

In the mid 1940s post-war prosperity led to increased competition for talent and a willingness to look across international borders[1].  By 1980, London became the most competitive search market in Europe, and the executive search market was experiencing tremendous growth with candidates beginning to relocate around the world[2].  When the global pandemic hit, international relocation became next to impossible and international hiring ground to a halt. Thankfully, this situation has now changed and at Dryden Search we have witnessed a sharp increase in candidates asking about overseas opportunities. As a firm, we do not have any international offices, but currently 10% of our hires are overseas and this number is expected to rise in 2024. To date, we have made successful hires in the US, Germany, Dubai and Australia.

Executive salaries are expected to increase by an average of 4.9% in 2023; with a 4.6% increase in the UK, 5.3% in the US and 4.2 in Europe. These will be the greatest increases since 2008, showing the growth of the market[3]. But research shows that 74% of leaders in Australia, Germany and the US see the availability of skills and talent as their number one concern in 2023[4]. With the pandemic behind us, companies can recruit talent that was previously beyond their reach – and this is beginning to happen more and more in the US, Germany, Australia and the Middle East.

United States
Global executive search is currently a $12 billion industry, with the US accounting for $8.7 billion of that[5].  The U.S market is viewed as less saturated than the U.K, its geographical size appeals greatly, and fee levels are higher. Over the last 24 months many non-US headquartered search firms have made significant groundwork in their US operations in lieu of a potential market upswing[6]. As a result, firms are engaging in a bidding war for talent which has led to significant pay rises[7]. For candidates, the U.S (both East and West Coast) provides an attractive place to relocate to especially given there are no language barriers. The allure of working in New York remains, whilst there is a lifestyle appeal when you talk to candidates about moving to Florida or the West Coast. Unquestionably, the ability to recruit the same role as you would in the UK but for 2-3x the fee level has led consultants to view the U.S. as the opportunity to earn well early on in their careers.

Germany is the third largest single market for executive search after the United States and the United Kingdom and is another area in which the industry is thriving[8]. Despite the shortage of skills in the labour market, the demand for executive talent remains strong[9]. But executive leaders cited availability of talent and skills as their number one concern for 2023, and so many firms are looking to hire internationally[10].  Although language skills are advantageous, most firms undertake business in English therefore options remain open to candidates in major cities such as Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich. Despite tough trading conditions in 2023, Michael Page cited Germany as their largest market during Q3, growing 5%.[11]

Australia is expecting a slower market from Q1 2024, but do not foresee a slowdown in international hiring. From January onwards, local hiring will become more strategic and lower volume, whereas international hiring is predicted to remain at high volumes. It is expected that the mid-senior market will be the most active. The ability to obtain an Australian eVisa or ETA, has led to candidates deciding to book flights and take their chances of securing a role.  Outside of the U.S., Australia is where we have seen more demand in recent months.

Middle East
The Middle East is continuing to open up to international hiring, especially in the legal sector. Marsden have noticed an increased demand for both private-practice and in-house lawyers in Dubai, and in an attempt to attract top quality candidates firms are putting together appealing benefits packages. Competition for qualified executive leadership is fierce, and firms have no problem looking for the best candidates anywhere across the globe[12]. Additionally, relocating to Dubai is easier than many other countries because the population is almost 90% foreigners and expats, meaning work visas are easy to obtain[13].

Benefits of working abroad
An international move can be invaluable for career and personal development. First, it can help fast-track your career development as many firms overseas (especially in the Middle East or Australia) are smaller than London, so you are more likely to be given more responsibility and be promoted sooner[14]. For example, in the financial services industry nearly 59% of people believe that an employee’s chances for promotion improve with international experience[15]. Secondly, there are also financial incentives at play, as firms will often pay higher salaries to people willing to relocate, and relevant country tax regimes can provide a financial advantage[16]. Working overseas can also benefit soft skills including communication, interpersonal skills and adaptability making for a more well-rounded candidate in the future.[17] Finally, moving abroad can be an exciting opportunity to experience a new lifestyle and immerse yourself in a new environment.

If you are thinking of an international move it is important think about it well ahead of time, and to get in touch with someone who knows the market well and can advise you on the best option for you. If you are looking for international opportunities please get in touch with\

[1] AESC (2023)
[2] AESC (ND)
[3] CJPI (2023
[4] RRA (2023
[5] AESC (2023) and Statista (2023)
[6] Marsden (2023)
[7] Reuters (2023)
[8] AESC(ND)
[9] Odgers Berndtson (2023)
[10] RRA (2023)
[11] trading statement (2023)
[12] AESC (2023)
[13] Marsden (2023)
[14] Marsden (2023)
[15] Hamilton Recruitment (ND)
[16] Executive Headhunters EMA Partners UK (2019)
[17] Executive Headhunters EMA Partners UK (2019)



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