Demand Down for Generalists : Relocation Tough for Jobless Executives

The Washington Post

Out-of-work executives are taking longer to find new jobs, but when they finally get one, it’s often for higher pay. Management generalists, however, are continuing to have a tough time in the job market as more and more companies find they can do without them.

These statistics from the latest survey by the outplacement firm of Drake, Beam Morin show a continued trend toward cutbacks in the ranks of corporate management as companies streamline their operations to meet increased competition.

The annual survey by DBM, which bills itself as “the world’s leading career management and outplacement firm,” shows that the average time for unemployed executives to find a new job increased from slightly more than five months in 1988 to nearly six months this year. At the same time, average severance pay dropped from 8.4 months to six months over the year. The survey shows a continuing trend toward hiring executives and managers with specific skills such as lawyers and accountants and specialists in marketing and sales. According to the study, the emphasis on specific training rather than generalists in the ranks of management “reflects a similar trend in 1988 in which corporations put emphasis on jobs that visibly contributed to the bottom line.”

In general, the study reported, “job opportunities in general management, finance and accounting declined, but marketing and sales positions remained strong in both the number of opportunities and increased pay scales. Corporate staff jobs--defined as in-house professionals such as lawyers and accountants--took much longer to find, but total compensation for these positions were much higher than in any other category for the lucky few who found them.”


The study showed a 3% drop in the number of out-of-work executives who found jobs in general management, with a 4% drop in overall compensation for those who did find such jobs. The average general management candidate surveyed earned $83,185 in his or her old job, but averaged $79,868 in the new one.

On average, the search for corporate staff jobs took much longer this year than it did in 1988. But, according to the survey, the wait was worth it. The average job search in this area was 7.3 months, up from 5.3 months last year. And the wait was worth it with average total compensation of $131,160--more than 50% higher than jobs in marketing and sales, which was the next highest paying field. The DBM survey also showed that women continued to move toward equality in the management unemployment lines in 1989. “There has been a steady increase in the numbers of females in outplacement programs--11% in 1987, 13% in 1988 and 15% this year,” the study reported.

The profile of out-of-work women executives was a very mixed picture. While the study showed that women tended to find new jobs faster than men--an average of 5.2 months versus six months--they also tended to be fired quicker than men, and wherever they worked they averaged far less pay.

“There is still a large disparity between women’s and men’s compensation, but women are gaining on men in this regard,” according to the study. “Women’s total compensation was 31% lower than men’s when entering the (outplacement) program as displaced executives ($59,142 vs. $85,102 respectively), yet that narrowed to a 26% difference in their new positions ($63,339 vs. $86,134 respectively).”


The study showed that women on average increased their pay in their new jobs by 7% while the comparable increase for men was 1%.

Senior executive positions--described by DBM as those paying $100,000 or more--appeared to remain the almost exclusive domain of men.

Whether you were male or female, a general manager or someone with specific skills, the study showed that who you know still has as much to do with finding another job as anything else. “Networking, or the finding of jobs through personal contacts and professional associates, remained the single most effective way to find a job,” DBM reported. “Sixty-four percent of clients in the DBM study listed networking as the source of their new job.”