Recruiting APAC Workers Expected to be Harder This Year

Mar 19, 2015

Professionals in greater China and Singapore are being aggressively recruited, but fewer are willing to make a change as optimism about the economic and financial outlook wanes.

The 2015 edition of MRIC’s Talent Report: Greater China & Singapore  says there’s a regional trend toward more stability in the labor market as mid- and senior-level managers and professionals turn more cautious about changing jobs or relocating. (The MRIC report, in partnership with market research firm Ipsos, is based on more than 4,500 surveys.)

Mobility decreased last year as fewer workers than in the previous four surveys decided to change jobs.  “At the same time,” says MRIC, “more talents who considered a move decided to stay put and accept counteroffers instead. The forecast for 2015 remains cautious at best.”

In China, Taiwan and Hong Kong fewer respondents than in past surveys expressed optimism about the future. The biggest percentages in those geographies are neutral. Only in Singapore were a majority (60%) optimistic about the future.

That doesn’t mean workers have turned pessimistic. Instead, the largest percentage are uncertain about the future, a development that makes workers less willing to make a move.

For recruiters who work in the region, the findings by MRIC, a part of the MRI Network, suggest that sourcing candidates and making placements is going to be more challenging this year. And, in fact, in none of the surveyed areas did the MRIC survey find more than a third or workers — and less in most areas — saying they were looking to make a job change in 2015.

Yet half of all respondents in the survey said they’ve been approached at least three times in the last year with job opportunities; about half applied at least once. “Recruiters’ interest is not limited to the most senior professionals,” says the report, “Middle and junior managers are approached almost as frequently.”

The active job seekers range between 13% and 23% of the labor market, depending on country. Overall, observes the report, “the most active job seekers are likely to be under 30 and single. In Hong Kong, they tend to be slightly older (31-40 years old) and slightly more experienced (middle managers). They are more likely to be found in professional services.”

Half of those open to a job offer and looking to relocate, picked North America as their first choice. However, except for those now working in Taiwan, a majority of the 4,500+ respondents say they’re not actively looking to relocate.

Overall, the number of managers and professionals who relocated last year is down from previous surveys. Although the change in Taiwan was barely measurable (down 1 point from 13% to 12% in 2014), elsewhere, especially in China and Singapore, the declines were as high as 5 percentage points.

Of those who want to relocate, Singapore is a close second choice to North America, with 48% indicating a desire to work there. Europe and Shanghai are on par at 45%, followed by Hong Kong at 41% and Australia – New Zealand at 37%.

While all age groups would move for a promotion or the global experience, younger professionals and managers – those under 40 – are looking for a better quality of life, even if it means moving away from their extended family. Those working in China, regardless of age, rank a healthier environment third behind job promotion and global experience.

However, when limited to choosing from only among cities on the mainland, Shanghai and Beijing were at the top. Those already living and working there show no greater inclination to move elsewhere in the country than they did in the 2012 survey.

“Relocating people within China remains a challenge mainly for career promotion and compensation reasons,” notes MRIC Group China Managing Director Angie Eagan.

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