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Hong Kong recruitment trends and market updates

Having arrived in the second half of 2017, recruitment firm Links International looked back on the state of Hong Kong's recruitment market in the first half of the year. Below are some of the company's reflections on four of the city's main industries, as well as a brief look at what the future might bring.

Human resources & administration

  • Job flow was quieter in comparison to the first half of 2016, particularly in the early part of Q1, as employees are less open to change and employers are hesitant to hire support functions
  • The challenge with regards to junior positions remained: employers want top quality candidates for lower salaries than the traditional market rate offered
  • Compared to last year, more candidates are rejecting offers or undergoing buy-back situations
  • Experienced HR candidates found it difficult to look for new roles in the relatively quiet market
  • Employers requested immediately available candidates more often than previous years, but often make them wait to buy time for preferred internal referrals or potential internal candidates
In Singapore, the situation for the first half of 2017 was similar with a slow job flow. Due to financial instability, companies are not expanding their HR headcount. Instead, more look to hire contract workers for HR projects. Going forward, senior HR roles are expected to pick up as organisations look to have their HR department ready for 2018.

Sales & marketing

  • Job flow increased by around 10% compared with the first half of 2016
  • Candidates have been cautious, not feeling positive and looking to remain in more stable environments
  • Hot recruitment areas were in operations and digital marketing, followed by relationship management and key account management in the lifestyle sector
  • Going forward, there may be a shortage of candidates, as they remain reluctant to move despite the market picking up

Banking & financial services

  • There were redundancies/retrenchments of mid-level management, as firms look to take out an expensive layer of management and promote from within
  • There were fewer roles at VP and director level than in the past few years, with organisations preferring to hire top quality AVPs who can grow into the VPs of the future
  • Going forward, more hires from The Chinese investment banks are to be expected since they now occupy a number of the top spots on the league tables.
In Singapore, recruitment picked up over the first half of 2017, but several financial organisations have been reducing headcount as well as moving operations to other locations. Candidates, both employed and unemployed, are well aware of these changes and prioritise positions within stable firms.

Temporary & contract

  • Hot areas for recruitment so far were in compliance, KYC and onboarding, although these areas were not quite as active as in 2016
  • The amount of available junior accounting and marketing roles in the commercial sectors increased
  • Candidates think the market is picking up, but are still somewhat hesitant to change jobs, as they remain concerned about contract duration, since the market is still not very active
  • Going forward, the availability of roles is forecast to continue to increase in Q3
In Singapore, temporary and contract hiring increased in the first half of 2017. The contract duration has reduced, with more four to five-month contracts rather than six to nine or 12-month contracts. However, contract extensions and conversions into permanent positions increased compared to last year.

ALSO READ: HR directors in Singapore can earn upwards of S$15,000 per month in 2017

Photo / 123RF

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