In 2015, the war for talent is expected to be competitive across China and Hong Kong, with job movers expected to benefit from salary hikes in the range of 10% to 25% across both regions.
China's economy will continue the shift from a pure manufacturing and infrastructure hub to more high-tech and professional services industries. As a result, candidates with experience in digital, e-commerce and mobile will be highly sought-after.
Another emerging trend in the country will be the increasing demand of mid to senior-level professionals in second-tier cities, such as Suzhou and Nanjing, as these markets continue to mature from new projects and investments.
"The recruitment market is becoming even more competitive, as foreign companies continue to enter and develop in the Chinese market while fast-growing domestic companies look to expand overseas," said Arthur Wang, managing director at Robert Walters China, in the company's annual salary survey.
"Candidates with international experience, local market knowledge as well as strong English and Mandarin language skills are highly sought-after by these organisations."
Language is expected to play a role in Hong Kong as well, with hiring priorities to focus on "management-level professionals and trilingual candidates with regional experience," as cited in the report.
"Hong Kong is a confidence-based market and ongoing stability in APAC markets as well as the growth in the US will have a positive impact on recruitment activity in 2015," noted Matthew Bennett, managing director for Robert Walters in Greater China.
Salary expectations remain optimistic in both Hong Kong and China, with salary increments of 10% to 20% anticipated for job movers in the former, and between 15% to 25% in the latter.
Within the HR function, Hong Kong will see a continued demand for talent management specialists and HR business partners. The highest salaries, however, will be commanded by HR directors and heads of compensation & benefits, between HK$1.2 million (SGD 207,000) to $1.6 million (SGD 276,000) per annum.
"Financial services firms will actively seek professionals with both legal background and HR experience due to an increased focus on regulatory requirements," cited the report.
On the other hand, internal up-skilling will be a key focus area in China, since managers struggled to recruit for traditional internal support functions throughout the past year.
"Companies are seeking professionals with strong communication skills and commercial acumen, with the ability to add value to the business".