Prepared for the Future

ASIA PACIFIC FOCUS – Simon Greening, APAC regional director, Bullhorn looks at trends in the Southeast Asian recruitment industry.

The business ecosystem in Southeast Asia continues to grow at a significant rate. Major companies, as well as exciting startups, are making their mark in the region, opening offices and creating new job opportunities. As a result, intense competition for talent with very specific skill sets is pushing employers and recruiters to reconsider their sourcing strategies. Fortunately, new technologies are disrupting traditional recruitment methods, enabling far more efficient engagement with in-demand talent.

Australia, a not too distant neighbour of many Southeast Asian countries, is already setting the pace in terms of recruitment market maturity and the use of technology. Bullhorn’s 2018 Australian Recruitment Trends report recorded a 59 per cent increase in technology investment, compared to 43 per cent last year. This includes spending more on automation, ATS, and CRM systems.

Skills shortages

In Southeast Asia, the skill shortages are felt most keenly in areas related to technology. Data analytics specialists are in increasingly high demand and short supply, says Yu Ming Chin, executive director of Viventis Search Asia: “While not fully appreciated currently, the need for these specialists is becoming increasingly clear. Data, in all its forms, is increasingly valuable currency. However, its value lies in the insights it provides – and these specialists are able to uncover and interpret these insights.”

Digital transformation specialists – with their ability to help businesses transform into highly technical or technology-enabled organisations – are also proving important. Technology educators and experts are needed to tie this all together, imparting critical knowledge on how to use different technologies to boost productivity and growth in key sectors.

“Agriculture is a particularly vital sector in the Southeast Asian region,” states Yu Ming. “At least 30 per cent of the entire workforce depends on agricultural employment. Therefore, people who have the skills to improve and support technology adoption in this sector will be in high demand.”

The recruiter’s evolving role

The recruiter’s role continues to evolve dramatically. In a pre-digital world, their methods for sourcing talent and keeping clients satisfied were relatively straightforward, and their playing field was arguably much smaller than today’s global market. 

The modern recruiter still needs to be a ‘people person’ with good networking skills. However, many are also starting to act as highly specialised consultants and advisors – similar to those in the private wealth management industry. Both clients and candidates will turn to them for expert advice, whether that is on developing hiring strategies, or on career development.

In 2016, Viventis implemented its transformation programme and transitioned from a very traditional or transactional recruitment model, to become a much more career focused business. The shift means that Viventis can contribute positively to talent development.

“Some of the new services we now offer,” says Yu Ming, “are online skills development courses, leadership training programmes and career specific technology training. In fact, our team is in the process of developing a proprietary platform to revolutionise the recruitment, career and learning experience.”

How recruitment technology is transforming Southeast Asia

Like elsewhere in the world, recruitment technology is gaining ground in Southeast Asia. However, while the overall response to these technologies is positive, the adoption process isn’t without its challenges.

There are various reasons for this; namely, a concern that technology will lead to job losses amongst recruiters. In truth, the benefits of automation and other tools are primarily that they help recruiters do a better job. They enhance productivity, but human recruiters still need to do the work. There is a strong need to raise awareness around these benefits, otherwise many firms will fall behind.

“Viventis has maintained its market leading position by exploring and using technologies to maximise our business potential,” adds Yu Ming. “We have invested heavily in LinkedIn to ensure that our people are sourcing, screening, and selecting top calibre talents to the best of their abilities.

“At the same time, we want to build our expertise in the domain of social recruiting. This is why we have invested in Bullhorn. With its support, Viventis aims to build a robust applicant tracking system, as well as a CRM, to engage with our candidates and clients more efficiently,” says Mr Chin.

With industry competition and demand for talent increasing within the Southeast Asian recruitment sector, firms need to evolve the services they offer to stay relevant. New technologies can help recruiters gain a lucrative advantage in a crowded market. Rather than delaying adoption, they need to investigate and embrace the tools and platforms that will enable them to engage with clients and candidates in the new world of work.