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4 tips to hiring Hong Kong’s best digital talent
Having worked in recruitment industry for close to 10 years across various disciplines, I find digital to be one of the most challenging and dynamic disciplines I have faced in my career.
While “going digital” is a trend that most all of our clients are gearing towards and investing in (of course the amount of investment will vary), what we’ve realised is that these efforts need to be accompanied by a shift in “traditional (hiring) mindsets” in order to bring about success.
Here are the four areas that corporate organisations need to pay attention to when hiring digital talent:
1. Look beyond salary histories
In the Hong Kong talent market, employers traditionally offer candidates a set increment (normally 10-20%) based on the latter’s current salaries. But, based on our experience, this approach may not work with digital talent, given the huge demand and relatively short supply of talent.
The current candidate-driven market is due largely to the city’s small population size and the relatively small team set-ups in most organisations. The digital sector in Hong Kong is also less mature compared with other countries, translating into a smaller talent pool.
As a result, we have seen numerous cases where clients (including well-known brand names) have had to pay at least a 30% increment — more when it comes to senior-level hires — to attract the right talent. While the figure may sound a bit exaggerated in terms of absolute percentages, the same “ruler” simply cannot always be applied in digital world and corporate organisations often have to consider offering salaries based on market rates rather than salary history.
2. Accept that digital talent are young and perhaps slightly more jumpy
Digital is a relatively new sector which has been in existence for only a few years, which is why it is tough to find a candidate with over 10 to 15 years of experience.
Some clients do say that certain young digital candidates do not deserve to earn high salaries or even hold senior titles But the reality is that, compared with those in other traditional disciplines, “seasoned” digital professionals are mostly young. You could have, for example, a 29-year-old candidate heading a user experience design (UX) team.
And most young people, as surveys and anecdotes often show, are keen to explore and learn new things, even it means switching employers every year. Coupled with the fact that the demand for the talent is high, digital professionals have the tendency to job hop when faced with a flat learning curve.
3. Buy-back is common
In the recruitment world, it is common for a candidate’s employer to propose a counter-offer to prevent him or her from resigning. However, such buy-backs occur more frequently in the digital world and current employers can be quite aggressive in terms of matching the employee’s new offer.
Therefore, corporate organisations (including both human resource personnel and line managers) should pay more attention to how attractive their compensation plans are and be proactive in engaging and communicating with the candidate to eliminate the chance of buy-backs occuring.
4. Be open-minded about candidate’s background
In general, Hong Kong is a rather mature talent market with an abundant supply of quality talent and employers tend to be quite specific in terms of their requirements, such as prior industry experience or local language skills.
However, this luxury hasn’t yet surfaced for digital recruitment. Very often employers may need to be a bit more open-minded and even think out of the box to secure the top talent.
For example, a very renowned and prestigious financial institution we worked with said that not a single member of their digital team had finance backgrounds, and that this occurrence was unprecedented within the organisation. Apart from that, we also see the trend of clients looking beyond our shores, “importing” foreign talent for senior-level regional roles.
Of course, the above points I listed may just be applicable to the current market situation. Still, while the talent landscape may change with time, my team and I believe that these trends will continue in the near future. It is then critical for corporate organisations to adapt and react fast enough in order to stay ahead in the war for talent.