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ABOUT THE LIST — Executive Job Candidates Scarce in a Robust Economy

On the vast employment spectrum, upper management positions are at one end and entry-level positions are at the opposite end.

At one end of the spectrum, there are significant demands for employees to fill in positions at all levels, including administrators, engineers and sales representatives. The other end of the spectrum is also as bright with more demands for presidents, chief executive officers, financial officers and other management positions.

The local San Diego economy has an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent as of the month of May, according to the California Employment Development Department. The latest statewide unemployment figure is 4.6 percent.

“The marketplace has grown significantly and there is more growth and activity here locally,” said Judy Thompson, president of Judy Thompson & Associates, No. 25 on The List of the Largest Full-Time Placement Services. Her firm recruits professionals in the areas of finance and accounting.

The List ranks local full-time placement services by the number of full-time recruiters as of Jan. 1. Companies needing to fill in full-time professional positions often use a full-time placement service rather than using traditional routes such as newspaper advertisements and Web site postings.

– Job Candidates Scarce

When Economy Is Good

In a robust economy, the pool of candidates in filling positions can be slim pickings.

“Companies are creating a laundry list of people and requirements for mid- to high-level positions,” Thompson said. “As one adds more requirements, it narrows the prospective candidates down further.”

Thompson described the current job market as “tight” across the board in all industries. She said candidates with a certain level of experience may be harder to find than others. For example, candidates with eight to 10 years of experience may be harder to find, because many did not get into the fields or into jobs during the recession nearly a decade ago. Many companies were downsizing at the time, so many candidates with this exact amount of experience may be lacking in the candidate pool.

Robert Kaplan, president and CEO of The Executive Group, No. 8 on The List, agreed companies’ demands limit the executive search for positions.

“There are more expectations by companies, because more and more of them are currently in their growth cycle,” Kaplan said. “They want to hire executives who can actually think outside the box rather than traditional thinkers.”

– Recruiting Firm

Offers HR Services

The Executive Group recruits mid- to upper-level management for companies. His firm also offers career management, outsourcing and human resource training.

Kaplan said the Internet contributed to thinking outside of the box, which created a new pool of candidates requiring skills in using the new economy’s technology.

As the number of executives available is quickly diminishing, companies usually increase the pay and bonuses of these current executives in order to attract or keep them inside their companies.

On The List of the Highest Paid Executives in this week’s San Diego Business Journal, the top 25 executives from San Diego public companies are ranked by their executive compensation in 1999. The executive compensation combines their salaries and bonuses together.

In 1999, the top 25 highest paid executives earned $26,751,687, an increase of 27 percent from $21,024,810. This figure does not include any other bonuses such as relocation or stock options.

– Firms Market Assets

To Attract Employees

However, some companies use other valuable assets in attracting executives to San Diego companies.

“San Diego has a unique setup with its reputable companies in the areas of high-tech, biotech and telecommunications,” Kaplan said. “And the best factor to attract executives to this city is in its lifestyle.”

Kaplan said the weather alone has attracted many executives to San Diego in his experience.

“Many people don’t want to endure the harsh winters from the East Coast anymore and are willing to move to San Diego,” he said.

He also cited San Diego has backed the companies by placing infrastructure to make the city attractive in recruiting executives to the area. San Diego has a good education system, medical facilities, and good social entertainment venues like theme parks and professional sports franchises, to name a few.

Thompson said many executives are attracted to certain companies by treating them well. Being one of the best companies to work for will attract and maintain executives within these companies, she said.

– Retaining Execs Like

Maintaining A Marriage

In comparison, she said keeping executives within a company is like maintaining a marriage or a relationship.

“You’ll have to treat people right if you want them to stay just like in a long-term relationship,” she said.

Many executives are attracted to other perks and work environment, not just the compensation. For example, by raising the value of learning opportunities, a company executive will stay with a company as long as he or she feels they are contributing to the company’s success.

“By creating this better environment, they’ll stay for a very long time.”

Staff intern Tisha Tara contributed to this story.

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