Signium New Zealand Recruitment Market Observations


The rise in “Boomerang Executives”

In recent times we have noticed a number of executives, particularly those who have advanced their career within one organisation, believe they need to move out of their current organisation in order to gain more diverse experience and roundedness before they can take up a more senior role within their foundation companies. We refer to these people as “boomerang executives”.

They are prepared to take the risk that they will be more attractive to their original company if they bring wider market experience. While it is not uncommon for executives to think this way, we are seeing more acceptance of this practise by companies who, not long ago, thought that executives who returned did not have the stamina to handle life in another culture.

Shortening tenures

For many years we have considered executives with regular periods of employment of less than two years as being unstable. However, in the USA, and now more frequently in New Zealand, short tenured roles appear to becoming the acceptable norm. Because of the speed of change in the market driving organisations to quickly adapt we are observing that many executives are considering it perfectly acceptable to be in a role for 1½ to 2 years. In a recent search for an executive in the FMCG sector, we discovered that approximately 75% of the hundred or so candidates we reviewed changed organisations every 1 to 2 years.

Considering the amount of mobility in the market should we consider these roles to be permanent positions or are the executives just interim managers carrying a line management title? Surely this mobility is driving senior managers to set short-term objectives with the hidden cost being a business driven by transactional relationships with its customers and internally! Of course everyone looks good as the next short term hire will “mend the damage” and reset the direction, creating an endless cycle of short term thinking…and performance.

A hybrid approach to finding the right candidate

In the present economic climate and with the increasing mobility of executives noted above, do companies care about the methodology recruitment companies use to get the right candidate? A number of high-growth, technology-orientated organisations are challenged in finding good middle management and supervisory personnel. Ideally, the rigorous research-based search methodology we apply at senior executive appointments should be applied at these lower level positions. We are seeing more companies developing a hybrid approach using a combination of internal HR and the expertise of a talented search consultant to deliver results.

If you would like to discuss these observations or would like to provide some feedback, we would be pleased to hear from you. Please contact Stephen or Maurice at 09 309 0886 or drop us a line at or