The Singapore hiring market has seen considerable change in the past five years, most notably in its continued shift towards the expansion of roles in technology. IT remains at the forefront of any Human Resources professional working in a technology firm or in businesses with large technology departments.
In 2019, hiring in Singapore has seen stable growth with continued high demand for data-driven and analytical roles including data scientists, user experience designers, digital roles and cyber security positions. Similarly, sales and marketing professionals with digital, e-commerce or big data experience are in high demand. The interim market also continues to expand as businesses seek more flexible models for their hiring needs.
Singapore remains the destination of choice for many new IT firms and start up businesses looking to invest in APAC. Moreover, trade tensions between the US and China have seen many companies move out, looking for more open and neutral countries like Singapore.
Finding the right talent at the right time
The challenges in finding the right talent and maintaining talent pools (particularly in IT) to combat attrition quickly and fuel further expansion is perhaps the number one issue for Human Resources professionals in Singapore. This is highlighted in many technology firms where pooling IT talent in their databases is a constant strategy. Needless to say, speed is the most critical factor in getting to the right talent first before other organisations.
Quotas on Foreign Talent
The modern HR professional in Singapore faces a constant battle to maintain the quality of their hires against the need to remain within the MOM guidelines for quotas of foreign talent versus local Singaporean talent. Guidelines are so strict that approvals for employment passes have been increasingly rejected for foreign professionals (particularly in IT) who may come equipped with the ideal experience or background. HR professionals are constantly faced with the challenge of large demand with limited supply of experienced IT Singaporean talent - with limited solutions currently in play to boost the immediate talent pools.
Lack of (gender) diversity
This overall picture makes sourcing very challenging for HR and TA, particularly in technology firms, where the shortage of talent shows no signs of abating. Diversity is also a challenge not just in technology but also in financial services. Women are under-represented in the majority of new start-ups/ banking and growing tech. firms in Singapore. Some of this is due to unconscious bias (in hiring, promotion, compensation) there are not enough qualified people from this group and also lack of mentors/ role models. Furthermore, most organisations are also focusing on including strategies to promote diversity/ inclusion within their organisations. This is because they are now realising that diversity is directly linked to the company culture and financial performance.
The Missing Balance: Speed vs. Quality
Growing companies in Singapore need quality people on the top but hiring them is a challenge as leaders don’t spend enough time on it. Coupled with the fact that most growing companies don’t know what pace to hire at - which basically leads to waiting for the right candidate with a good culture fit versus hiring quickly and ending up with the wrong hire. Waiting too long could also mean companies would be losing out to other competing offers, which is just as frustrating.
Difficulty in developing employer brand
A constant theme in companies now is the need to prioritize establishing a great culture and a well thought out EVP at the forefront of their HR hiring strategy ‘owned’ by the top executives. However, it is difficult to communicate the EVP/ branding because of many different perspectives (candidates versus employers versus employees). To that note, therefore, effective communication of the brand is difficult when talented professionals come from varying levels, and what needs to be communicated has to be decided depending on the seniority of roles and age demographics.
Could outsourcing be a solution?
All these challenges which HR professionals and talent teams face have seen a considerable amount of companies looking at their overall recruitment model. Is it better to build out your TA team internally or would it be more beneficial to outsource the recruitment process to an RPO provider?
Increasingly, companies in Singapore have been considering RPO solutions as a more efficient model to creating ‘warm’ talent pools, getting ahead of the market, and therefore, reducing time to hire. Furthermore, the cost element of getting the hiring strategy wrong and using traditional agencies during significant volume hiring (a costly solution) cannot be ignored, which makes RPO and Project RPO an outsourcing model to turn to. In Singapore, particularly in the IT sector, this ‘outsourcing’ strategy has seen high demand in the past few years, as companies seek to reduce the average cost per hire in their sourcing strategy.