January 29, 2021

Predictions for the 2021 Executive Employment Market

My track record of predicting the future is no better than else’s — which is to say, it’s not very good. But that doesn’t stop me from making predictions. Here are mine for the 2021 executive employment market in medical devices.

In short, I think the first quarter will have solid and steady executive hiring, but nothing remarkable. Starting at the beginning of the second quarter, however, I foresee a rapid acceleration of executive hiring as the coronavirus is brought under control and companies dial up spending.

Here’s more detail on my thinking:

To set the table, let’s review 2020. The year began with an employment market that was red-hot. It stayed that way until the coronavirus lockdowns began in mid-March. Since March, the market for executives has remained remarkably solid, albeit not at the heated levels that started the year. 

The solid market, however, masks the uneven effects of the pandemic on device companies. Those with products used to manage the pandemic — diagnostics, PPE, ventilators — have experienced a windfall, and many have increased the pace of executive hiring. On the other extreme, those with products for elective or nonemergency procedures have suffered, with sales riding the ups and downs of coronavirus hospitalizations.

As we begin 2021, I read the overall mood as optimistic, but cautious. Optimistic, because the underlying economy has remained remarkably strong. Cautious, because the last 10 months have taught us that progress against the virus is fraught with uncertainty. The emergence of new, more contagious variants is the latest wildcard.

Only progress against the virus will dial back uncertainty and put optimism in the driver’s seat. Fortunately, that’s about to happen. Within weeks, vaccinations will be happening at a rapid pace. That means the end of the pandemic will be in sight. Optimism will get the upper hand.

When that happens, I expect the hot executive employment market to return with a vengeance. Companies will rapidly increase investment in anticipation of growth. And that means hiring more executive level talent.

Could I be wrong? Of course – I certainly didn’t see a global pandemic coming when we began 2020. But I believe my optimism is rooted in reality. A year from now we’ll know if I’m right.

Starting at the beginning of the second quarter, however, I foresee a rapid acceleration of executive hiring as the coronavirus is brought under control and companies dial up spending.

Words
of Praise

Mike does a very good job of listening. He understands ZOLL, and that allows him to figure out who’s going to thrive in our organization.

— Richard Packer, Chairman, ZOLL Medical Corporation