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July 15, 2021

Ex-CEOs can't find work in this economy, either

Stop me when this sounds familiar:

Due to the recession, an employment group across North America has suffered a seismic strain, resulting in the firings, lay-offs and job evaporations of countless workers – who now actively, if not desperately, seek a place of occupation.

A common tale of the downturn, right? We could fill a number of jobs into the above blank – auto workers, nurses, journalists – and it would fit the bill. But how about this … now we’re talking about ex-CEOs, former company fat cats who can’t find work to save their life.

Yes, it appears the latest employee group to be without consistent work this side of the Atlantic has become the CEO, who has found an executive job market that’s not particularly forgiving in this economic climate.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “no one knows how many out-of-work CEOs” there are these days, but the prospect of idle executives finding a company to helm in 2010 isn’t so promising.

By recruiter Spencer Stuart’s numbers, only 48 companies in the S&P 500 index changed top executives last year, the lowest total since the watchdog began tracking such data in 2004.

Worse, though, notes Spencer Stuart, only two of the 13 major corporations that changed CEOs in the last quarter tabbed an outsider for the position. Former execs, the business world continues to suggest, need not apply.

Of course, the résumés of many of these ousted CEOs haven’t done much to inspire confidence into would-be employers.

If any former exec’s rap sheet comes with a hint of controversy, that makes it that much harder to find a public company willing to give a second shot. In fact, if your track record suggests any kind of wrongdoing, you’ll have to beg and plead to get back into the business world’s good books.

Take Mike Zafirovski, for example. The former Nortel Networks Corp. boss left the company last August as the tech titan was falling apart following its bankruptcy court filing. The WSJ reports that Zafirovski is dying to get back into the game, and has “prepared a detailed, two-page chart of his career financial-feats” as a means to turn his image of a corporate cancer on its head.

Is this trend bad news for former execs? Yeah, definitely. But let’s not look past the facts here: CEOs, while in an incredibly stressful and demanding position, are compensated well  for their work.

And when you consider that even if they screw up and get involved in corporate fraud or white-collar theft they’re bound to be freed from jail prematurely anyway, this isn’t exactly a group the general public will play its sappy violin for quite yet.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...