Across the board, activity in South East Asia continues to be reasonably positive, despite some political and economic turbulence in many markets. While sentiment fluctuates from country to country, overall recruitment activity is positive and there is every reason to believe that this will continue through 2016.

A local focus for candidates

In 2015, recruitment at the professional/management level has been active in most ASEAN markets.  We’ve seen positive developments in Indonesia in particular, as well as encouraging signs in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines. While there have been macro economic and political factors that have impacted hiring processes and decisions in Malaysia, this has not thwarted growth overall, which has been steady, though not spectacular.

Singapore is the most developed and mature recruitment market in the region and market conditions are broadly consistent with 2014, with measured and stable levels of growth in terms of hiring activity.

An interesting trend we’ve observed across the region is the growth of recruitment activity in locally and regionally owned companies as opposed to multinationals. Historically, candidates have tended to show a preference for multinational employers but there has been a noticeable shift in interest towards companies with regional headquarters which is a credit to the success and growth of many ASEAN companies and their employer branding strategies.

Career development opportunities are as important as remuneration

Remuneration, in terms of rewards, salaries and benefits, continues to be a key driver in terms of the decisions that job seekers and employers make overall. However, these decisions are now far more complex than they’ve historically been and there are a number of factors that are reviewed. These include career development opportunities and the long term career path that someone will have in an organisation. Corporate social responsibility is also at the forefront of many people’s minds, and individuals want to work for a company they can feel proud of.

This ties in with the increased focus we are seeing around the concept of employer branding. Most progressive organisations are concentrating their attention on building the kind of culture and environment that is going to attract the best talent, and more importantly, retain them.

Employers willing to pay well for top talent

In general, we’re seeing upward pressure on salaries across the region, though this varies from market to market. While employers are comfortable remunerating candidates very well, they are looking to see a return on their investment very quickly. Expectations are high, and talented candidates with significant experience are discerning in the organisations they want to work for, but equally organisations want to ensure candidates have everything they’re looking for in terms of technical skills, interpersonal skills and the other intangibles that make someone a great employee. There are significant opportunities for strong candidates, but equally employers, in the market we find ourselves in, are wanting to make sure they cover all their basis when finding the right candidate for the roles they’re seeking to fill.

The Michael Page South East Asia 2016 Salary & Employment Outlook is a report based on survey findings of more than 850 employers across a range of industry sectors in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Insights drawn from a series of roundtable discussions with employers further enriched the report. The report aims to provide an overview on market and employment conditions, wages, and an outlook across the different sectors. The report can be viewed in full here.

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