Candidates, Clients, Executive Search

The Voluntary Turnover of C-Suite Executives and Its Effect on Executive Search

Finding and retaining top executive talent has always been a challenge when recruiting for European subsidiaries expanding into the USA in places like Chicago and Boston. However, detailed research highlights new industry challenges that are deeply impacting growing brands — specifically the loss of C-suite talent within the American job market.

Recent studies reported by Fortune discovered 418 CEOs in Fortune 1,000 companies left their posts in the first quarter of 2023. This number is 6% higher than the record set in the first quarter of 2022 and 57% higher than the last quarter of 2022.



Different industries have experienced different effects over the past three months. The five most impacted commercial branches currently include:

  • Government and Nonprofit: 85 C-suite losses
  • Public Entities: 65 C-suite losses
  • Hospitals: 54 C-suite losses
  • Technology: 50 C-suite losses
  • Finance: 40 C-suite losses

And with mounting financial pressures creating distress among even high earners, America’s uncertain economic climate has decreased productivity, increased health costs, and according to SHRM, accelerated the rate of voluntary turnover.

“Is it not easier right now to find executives for European companies in the US,” says Myriam Le Cannellier, the co-founder and managing director of DSML, an executive search firm with a presence in Boston, Chicago, and France. “Some of our clients have asked if a certain slowdown in some industries and recent layoffs are making it easier to find executive talent. That is not what we are seeing.”

European companies cannot always avoid the risk of heightened turnover in the C-suite. However, it may be possible to circumvent preventable turnover with proven methodology and a professional executive search firm.

Factors Impacting Heightened C-Suite Turnover

The reasons behind C-suite turnover are both complex and multifaceted. That said, there are typically three major elements involved in the equation.

Let’s begin with the most common factor of C-suite turnover:

Requirements for executives are not easy to fulfill

Executive-level hires work at a far different pace than entry-level employees. Working in the C-suite comes with enormous implications, as well as weighty expectations that may be difficult to fulfill, which we see often as an executive search recruitment firm in Boston and Chicago.

Additionally, companies do not always explain how the success of a C-suite executive is going to be measured during the onboarding process. This creates misalignment between the company and the candidate and may increase voluntary turnover.

C-suite executives may choose to leave their posts if they feel unappreciated or unfulfilled in their roles. They may seek new positions to downgrade from the stress or even retire outright to get away from industry ‘noise.’

“It’s important to hire a C-suite executive who aligns with your internal and external expectations,” Myriam says. “Success begins with alignment at the very beginning of the recruitment process.”

Volatile markets back executives into a corner

Times of uncertainty and economic distress are typical suspects for slower job markets. Executives may think twice about leaving comfortable jobs or worry about making drastic career changes.

However, communicating intent can be a powerful driver of offer acceptance for executive talent. Listing benefits, long-term incentives, or your subsidiary’s mission and vision could be an important part of getting a ‘yes’ from top talent.

Keep in mind C-level candidates often leave their roles due to a cultural mismatch with their current company. It’s essential to express your company culture up-front and ensure alignment from the beginning.

“It all goes back to authenticity and transparency, especially as you write your initial job description,” Myriam says. “The more you communicate your expectations, the easier it will be for candidates to make an informed decision.”

Salary expectations do not match the general market

What applies to the general job market does not apply to executives — especially when it comes to salary expectations. CEOs make several times more than the average employee, meaning lowball offers are not likely to move heads.

Economic hardships and increased inflation may lead many candidates to ask for higher salaries during the executive search recruitment process. However, not all subsidiaries expanding to the US want to offer high pay to brand-new talent. Clients and candidates must seek to strike a balance that appeases stakeholders on both sides of the situation.

“Salary is a topic I always address for clients and prospects,” Myriam says. “Discussions have to happen to help the client meet candidate requests or change the criteria of their position’s expectations and requirements.”

How DSML Executive Search Fights Preventable C-Suite Turnover

Aligning your candidates before making a hiring decision is just the first step in retaining top C-suite talent. To successfully hire US executives for your European subsidiary, you must empower their impact and effectiveness with a value-driven executive search recruitment process.

The professionals at DSML Executive Search have focused on this value for more than 15 years. Serving fast-growing organizations from Europe, we’ve made a name for ourselves by sourcing high-value executive talent for companies in manufacturing, packaging, technology, medical devices, consumer goods, and more.

Our proven executive search recruitment process allows companies to acquire well-suited executive candidates in the US:

  • We discuss our methodology at the beginning of every search to clarify expectations and set timelines for results.
  • We evaluate all candidates through a policy of transparency and remain professional, respectful, and communicative throughout the process.
  • We deliver quality selections through a bespoke vetting process and offer 24/7 portal access for maximum efficiency.

If you’re looking for ways to source top executive talent for your European subsidiary expanding to the US, you can rely on DSML Executive Search for world-class results. Contact our professional team at +1 312 268 6166 to discuss the solutions that may be right for you.

+1 312 268 6166