Andy CurlewisAuthored by Kumar Bhaya, Vice President - Client Solutions

There’s a talent scarcity problem – but it’s focused on particular sectors and role types

As the world begins to reach a turning point in the fight against COVID-19, there is strong pent-up demand for talent in many countries around the world. Singapore is no exception. Whilst the pandemic has created a surplus of candidates in some industries (aviation, hospitality, F&B, retail being notable examples) the reshaping of the way we work and live has also created roles that are in high demand.  

There’s a big requirement for change management, digital transformation and IT professionals in Singapore, especially those working in cyber security, eCommerce or with experience in an agile environment. Tech talent was already at a premium before COVID-19 struck, but the working from home revolution, the closing of borders and the net outflow of foreign specialised talent has exacerbated the challenges of hiring the best candidates – especially in more specialised roles. For more generalist positions, where talent can flow from sectors impacted by the pandemic to those that are currently growing, it’s still an employer’s market – but emphasis needs to be given to upskilling new recruits and onboarding them thoroughly for work in a different sector. 

Developing skills internally is as important as hiring externally  

In line with the development of a strong Singaporean core, companies have already been focusing on hiring and developing local employees. The current talent supply challenges make the business case for doing so even more compelling – especially with the support of Government initiatives such as SkillsFuture SG. It's funding of the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) and other projects to help employers boost the capabilities and productivity of its people can make developing talent internally a much more attractive prospect. 

Right now, there are opportunities for Singaporeans who are willing to be reskilled – if they are open to lower salary packages as a starting point. This is where a company’s employer brand can play a vital role, in explaining how an organisation can provide a sense of purpose as well as provide the support and development opportunities that make entering at a lower level attractive to the candidate. The power of employer branding has become even more important in a virtual world, where employees may have a more limited experience of engaging with the organisation through physical facilities, offices and work environments.  

Be aware of a shift in hiring practices 

Necessity is the mother of invention – and the remote working environment caused by the pandemic has led to a big shift in hiring practices, from virtual interviews to virtual onboarding. With face-to-face meetings impossible for a time, there has been an urgent need for a range of new technology, including online assessment tools that alleviate the concern of making a decision based purely on a virtual meeting, and automated interview scheduling. Although these changes were forced on companies and introduced at lightning speed, many organisations are realising that these new processes can bring considerable advantages. From a decrease in the number of candidates cancelling online assessments and interviews, to time savings for recruiters, there are many benefits. Consequently, some of these shifts in HR hiring practices are here to stay. 

Remote working patterns and the work from home revolution has also brought to surface an important ongoing shift in hiring and workforce planning, from the traditional approach of focusing on jobs, full-time employees and headcount, to skills needed to support the business in the form of skills-based workforce planning and where these may be available.  

It’s important to speed up the hiring process

The shift away from multiple face-to-face interviews, towards a more technology-led, virtual approach has sped up the recruitment process. This, coupled with the strong talent market, means that if employers want to secure top talent, they need to be decisive and move quickly. A number of organisations have explored how technology can enable acceleration of the hiring process. A technology-enabled Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) solution is one example that organisations have adopted that can speed up the hiring process. 

 The overall candidate package is becoming increasingly important

How do you make yourself the company of choice to work for? Of course, monetary factors are always important. But at Cielo, we’re seeing a shift amongst candidates in the Singapore market away from a predominantly compensation-based focus, towards a much greater interest in benefits and working conditions. Does a company offer flexible working? Does it provide the right environment for talent to flourish? Increasingly, candidates will be interested in a company’s culture, the kind of people they will be working with every day and how they will be managed. The biggest focus of all is on work/life balance. 

Employer branding and messaging are key

Differentiating your organisation in this market is key to success. Defining your employee value proposition (EVP) and delivering your message via the correct channels to the right audience – both internally and externally – is vital in such a competitive market. Cielo’s employer brand practice allows us to bring real expertise in this area, whether it is to develop an EVP from ground up, localise existing EVP/brand messaging making it more targeted to attract the right candidates or better manage their reputation on social media. 

Hiring for high potential is becoming an important strategic focus 

Hiring for high potential rather than for an existing skill set is a strategy that’s becoming increasingly important with major organisations in the Singapore market. With many companies working with lean teams, there’s always a temptation to continually hire candidates who can come in and perform instantly in a specific role. Whilst this delivers short-term gain, it can also lead to a ‘revolving door’ effect, with employees who don’t see a path for development ahead becoming disengaged. A high potential hiring strategy makes the new employee a motivated partner, who knows that their training and development are a priority and understands how their career can progress over time. It’s a long-term strategy that drives retention, engagement and performance. 

An internal mobility strategy is more important than ever

A strong internal mobility strategy is important in developing and motivating your whole talent base – but is vital in your high potential cohort. These employees in particular need opportunities to learn and grow in order to stay motivated. At Cielo, we work alongside our clients in Singapore to create this environment in their organisation, at every step of the process. As well as collaborating closely with our client’s recruiters to define exactly what a high potential candidate looks like for their organisation, and locating the talent that meets each client’s needs, we also work with the employer brand practice to deliver persuasive messaging that helps result in key hires. Equally importantly, we then create internal mobility campaigns, which ensure employees fully understand the opportunities for learning and progression that are open to them.  

Coordinating talent attraction, management and retention is vital

Acquiring – and keeping – the best talent in the current Singapore jobs market requires strategic, joined-up thinking.  As the world's leading strategic Recruitment Process Outsourcing partner, we here at Cielo can provide our clients with a range of services that make such a joined-up approach possible. We can share a range of talent insights, which ensure organisations understand the market they operate in, the talent available, and the wide range of attraction methods available to them. 

Through the employer brand practice, we are able to help our clients build compelling employer brands, and use an optimised mix of technology, sourcing and marketing to help them deliver their message to the market and attract the best talent. And all this is underpinned by our advanced RPO technology platform Cielo TalentCloud, which provides everything from programmatic advertising and automated sourcing, to complex interview scheduling and predictive analytics. What’s more, we work with our clients in Singapore and the region to help develop and embed new strategic initiatives, from the attraction and management of high potential candidates to internal mobility and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B) initiatives.