Q3 2011 - Market Update

As our very first Quarterly Review, I’d personally like to begin by thanking everyone that has been part of the initial 3 months of Elliott Scott HR, from clients to candidates and beyond. It has been a great start to life as Hong Kong’s first boutique HR recruitment firm and we look forward to building further on the foundations that we have started to grow.

It’s been a tricky market to assess over the quarter but the HR space continues to expand and develop in Hong Kong and bodies such as the Association of Graduate Recruitment (AGR) continue to be at the fore of continuing this development. As a business we are keen to develop this and part of our remit is to ensure that the HR community here is well versed into all HR bodies and activities here. We will look to do the same in other locations as we expand.

Hong Kong

The HR market has had an interesting time during Q3, we saw an immediate need here in Hong Kong and received a number of calls and roles from both candidates and clients. What was quick to transpire was that while there was a number of serious clients looking in the market for top talent it was also very evident that a lot of candidates had been briefed on roles and had received calls from a few different sources in the market (either direct or indirect). This leads to candidates believing that the market is slightly better than it really is and while it was an ok market in July of this year it was never a truly candidate led market.

Banking & Financial Services

With stock markets starting to feel the effects of the European debt crisis this also started to impact roles here in Asia, particularly within Financial Services. The official party line in Finance, even now, is that most organisations do not have a headcount freeze in place, however if a role does exist it will also take a lot longer in terms of getting it across the line due to the number of signatures that are required to make the hire happen. For candidates in this space it does mean you need to be careful, and roles most at risk because of the slight change in market conditions revolve around Recruitment and Learning & Development.

As a candidate working in-house this is a perfect time for you to diversify your skills and learn about new areas of HR and we’d advise you to pro-actively seek out further development in different areas of HR, you will always remain a specialist but having other skills to fall back on is no bad thing.

Industry & Commerce

The effects on roles outside of Banking and Finance have been less stark. One phrase that we continue to use here is that of “cautious optimism” with companies still declaring that Asia is a growth market and that the long term company plans haven’t changed. Of course this doesn’t mean that short term plans can’t be adapted slightly and clients are looking at the market to see if they can potentially up skill their departments and utilize strong expertise coming out of other market sectors.

For candidates in this space it is also a chance to review plans and work out whether now is the right time to move. We’d advise all candidates to ensure that they have seriously considered any kind of move and are 100% satisfied with the current company position before resigning. Languages continue to be a factor in this area and clients continue to seek individuals with fluency in either Mandarin or Cantonese.


We believe that Q4 will continue to be a difficult market for active candidates, however this is the time to truly be patient and ensure that you are targeting the right companies with the right opportunities. Taking a role for the sake of it now could lead to you being back on the market when market conditions start to pick up.

For clients this is an opportunity to consolidate and to potentially see if top talent elsewhere might be interested in a move. As individuals become ever more strained to take on more responsibility this can lead to longer hours, more pressure and eventually a move.

Dates for the Diary

26th – 27th October 2011

Human Capital & Talent Management Forum, 2011

31st October 2011

Elliott Scott HR Salary Survey

22nd – 23rd November 2011

HKIHRM Annual Conference, 2011

30th November 2011

HK AGR Salary Survey

For further advice on this or any other HR recruitment matters please contact a consultant at Elliott Scott.

Stuart Elliott, Managing Director

Elliott Scott HR

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