Executive recruitment market trends | Hunter focus

What does the executive search market in the Hunter look like right now? Executive specialist Simon Rutten shares his insights on current trends.

Insights Author: Simon Rutten

What does the executive search market in the Hunter look like right now? In our latest blog, our Director and executive specialist, Simon Rutten, shares his insights on current trends.

Executive search is an exciting and impactful area of recruitment to work in. Every day, I’m working to place top-tier talent in roles that drive better business outcomes and shape the future of companies.

Right now I’m noticing some specific trends in the Hunter and nationally that are affecting who businesses are employing and what skills candidates looking for executive jobs should be focusing on to get ahead.

Demand for digital transformation skills growing

The Hunter region’s digital economy is expanding rapidly, driven by start-ups, tech firms, and digital transformation initiatives across industries. 

In line with this, the demand for executives skilled in digital transformation continues to grow as companies across the Hunter’s various sectors seek to innovate and stay competitive.

Executives who can lead digital initiatives, implement new technologies effectively, and drive digital marketing strategies are highly valued. Is this an area in which you can upskill and demonstrate your capabilities?

Related: 7 tech-savvy skills today’s employers want

digital transformation

Need for executives skilled in managing remote teams

Four years post-pandemic, we’re still grappling with the concept of remote and hybrid work. But while some companies are still pushing for a return to the office, others are increasingly listening to what employees want and offering flexibility in terms of remote and hybrid working arrangements.

According to recent research by Morgan McKinley, 97% of Australian workers express a strong preference for continuing in a hybrid or remote work model.

Because of this, the need for executives who can manage and inspire teams regardless of location has accelerated.

Leaders who can foster a cohesive remote work culture, maintain productivity and leverage technology for effective communication are increasingly being pushed to the top of the candidate list.

Related: How to build a great remote work culture

Soft skills have become even more critical

 Beyond the hard knowledge and capabilities of leadership roles, we’re seeing employers increasingly prioritising ‘soft skills’ such as emotional intelligence (EI), adaptability and resilience—the skills that drive success today.

If you’re in the market for your executive-level role, ask yourself: Can I navigate complex organisational dynamics? Can I inspire teams through change? Do I have proven experience in fostering a positive work culture? If you can, you’re ahead.

If your soft skills could benefit from some further development, executive coaching, training programs, and even upping your network event attendance can be highly worthwhile.

Team members being inspired

Preference for deep sector-specific knowledge

The Hunter has the largest regional economy in Australia. Some of our key industries are mining, healthcare, defence and tourism. The tech and renewable energy industries are also fast-growing.

This is relevant because what we’re seeing in relation to this is that companies are now prioritising executives who not only have leadership acumen but also possess deep knowledge of the specific challenges, regulations and opportunities in these sectors.

For example, executives with experience in solar, wind, and hydroelectric projects are in high demand. As are those with expertise in resource extraction, environmental sustainability and regulatory compliance, or able to manage complex healthcare systems.

Aboriginal lady and man installing solar panels in the Hunter

Drive to increase diversity at an executive level

Diversity is a reality of the world we live in today and something we’re strongly focused on here at Verve (Learn more). By bringing it into workplaces, we can help nurture vibrancy through different experiences and perspectives.

This is something employers everywhere, including here in Newcastle and the Hunter, are catching onto. In fact, we’re seeing a concerted effort among our clients to enhance diversity at the executive level.

Organisations are recognising the value of diverse perspectives in decision-making processes. They’re actively seeking leaders who can champion inclusivity and equity within their teams and communities.

Opportunities for executives with entrepreneurial acumen

Newcastle’s vibrant small business community continues to thrive and is buzzing with innovation and growth.

In the year up to June 2023, Newcastle, Port Macquarie and the Lower Hunter saw the largest increase in new businesses in the region at 467, 268 and 267, respectively (ASBFEO).

This growth is creating increasing opportunities for executives with strong entrepreneurial acumen, such as being able to spot market gaps, drive projects and build strong businesses. It also offers plenty of networking events, business incubators and funding opportunities.

It’s the perfect environment for executives to use their skills to boost their careers and contribute to the local economy.

Picture of Newcastle with a coal ship leaving the harbour

Lean into the trends to succeed

Executive recruitment in the Hunter is definitely evolving, and these trends will continue to shape the landscape, offering challenges and opportunities. The companies and executive leaders who lean into them will be the ones coming out on top.

If you want to find executive search top talent or are seeking your next high-level leadership role, let’s start a conversation to see how we can support you and navigate these trends.


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