Insightful Rendezvous with Steve Girdler: Exploring Hiring Trends and Challenges in APAC

December 21, 20158:32 am1892 views

Emphasising on the times signalling need for recruitment transparency in 2016, Steve Girdler, Managing Director – EMEA and APAC, HireRight talks about challenges to finding the perfect hire for a suitable job role globally.

He shares his views on hiring challenges, background screening trends, costs incurred on negative candidate hiring, compliance issues across industries and markets, along with contingent workforce management. Read on to explore more.

  • Share your insights and views on the current hiring landscape in Asia Pacific, trends and challenges to finding the perfect hire from HR perspective.

The strong Asian economy has brought about a war for talent and as a result attracting the right person for each and every job role is a key focus – and challenge – for many HR professionals. In such a competitive job market, organisations need to stand out from the competition more than ever before and there are a number of ways to do so:

  1. Employer Branding: This is becoming more and more important in other countries and so companies in Asia that focus on it could gain from really standing out. Employer branding plays a vital role in attracting talent and it’s critical that HR practitioners work with their marketing departments to ensure that potential candidates are seeing the right messages.
  2. Candidate Experience: From recruitment to on-boarding, today’s candidates expect a positive, transparent and seamless experience at every stage of the recruitment process. Ensuring this can be the difference between hiring the very best, and receiving negative feedback on sites like
  3. Technology: With technology playing a part in almost all aspects of our lives, the HR industry is no exception. Applicant Tracking Systems and on-boarding systems for instance are being used to ensure efficiency and reduce time-to-hire. With HR departments being pressurised into recruiting as quickly as possible, while still finding the very best talent, the right technology can help ease the challenges that this presents.
  • How do solutions from HireRight help bridge the talent gap in APAC region and empower employers to make smart hiring decisions?

As the job market becomes markedly more competitive, applicants feel the need to stand out from the crowd, and in some cases are exaggerating details on their résumés. In the last year, we have found several employees lying about their qualifications or skill levels in order to be considered for a role.

This clearly poses both performance and reputational risks to organisations, which HireRight can help mitigate against by ensuring candidates have the experience that they claim to.

  • What are the challenges and issues surrounding background screening of candidates globally?

Legislative frameworks, infrastructure and information availability vary hugely from country to country owing to large cultural differences around sharing personal data.  Times are changing and in many places both candidates and businesses are becoming more open to the concept of applicant screening.

Even so, limitations continue to remain with regards to criminal background and financial information checks in a number of countries to include Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

Organisations need to have a global policy to ensure consistency in screening, and also have a degree of local flexibility to take into account these considerations. Without a bespoke local approach, candidates could be put off applying for role.

  • Share details on employment background checks specifically designed for SMEs.

SMEs should build a screening policy into their recruitment process from the start so that they are set up to grow with a consistent approach. Quality of talent is arguably more important in such a close-knit team, so making sure that hires are as top quality as possible is crucial.

This also helps safeguard against scandals later on when the company becomes more high profile. The depth of checks carried out, as with corporates, should be based on the level of seniority and access to data, IP and customers and so on.

Steve Girdler, Managing Director - EMEA and APAC, HireRight

Steve Girdler, Managing Director – EMEA and APAC, HireRight

  • How does HireRight help organizations calculate the cost of negative candidate experiences during hiring?

HireRight alongside Talent Board, a global organisation advocating and supporting continuous recruitment innovation, have developed a candidate resentment calculator, which helps determine how much a negative candidate experience can damage brand reputation and potential revenue.

For the purposes of the calculator, candidate resentment is defined as the point at which a job candidate becomes so dissatisfied with the recruitment process and potential employer, that he or she loses all interest in the company.

Resentment can manifest itself in a variety of ways:

  • Sharing negative experiences over multiple social channels
  • Communicating those experiences with an inner circle
  • Choosing to spend at a competing business in both the short and long term.

Based on the number of annual hires, number of applicants per hire, and average value of each customer, the calculator estimates the cost of candidate resentment, helping organisations to understand where they are going wrong in the recruitment process.

Ultimately, this tool was built to help businesses around the world understand how they can give applicants the very best experience possible, whether they are offered the role or not. You can find out how your company performs by using the tool at

See: Challenges to Hiring and Retaining Managers in Singapore

  • What are the challenges to background screening in the transportation industry and compliance risks associated with it?

In other areas, such as the United States transportation recruitment is highly regulated by government agencies and screening to a high level, especially for drivers, is essential. Motor carriers often struggle to understand and keep track of the shifting requirements to ensure their screening processes maintain compliance.

Drug and alcohol testing processes brings additional challenges. Setting up an effective drug and health screening program for the transportation industry must be done in a manner that thoroughly complies with regulations and must address such issues as appropriate sample selection, chain of custody, evaluation of results by a medical review officer, and maintaining records via manual paper-based or electronic processes.

In addition to legal requirements, effective healthcare checks can include screens for sleep apnea, a severe sleep disorder that leads to drowsy driving and poses serious risks to public safety.

Although an effective background screening program will address all of these issues to improve recruiting efforts, help motor carriers comply with all regulations, and help carriers ensure public safety, background screening of drivers is not a legal necessity in Asia Pacific so it is nowhere near as prevalent, despite the clear risk this poses to public safety and company reputation.

  • What are the background screening trends in Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysian markets? What are the common types of discrepancies found in Asia Pacific region?

Across APAC, people are most likely to exaggerate claims about education, employment and professional license checks.

On over 400,000 checks HireRight conducted from January 2014 to April 2015 in the APAC region, one third contained errors. The rates are similar in Singapore and Hong Kong, at around one fifth (21%), whereas in Malaysia, discrepancy rates are slightly higher at over a quarter (27%).

The background screening industry is still relatively new in Asia, in comparison to more mature markets such as the United States. But Singapore and Hong Kong are fast catching up. This could partially be owing to a rise in cases where candidates have lied about qualifications or bought them from diploma mills.

Businesses in the region are beginning to realise that background screening helps mitigate risks internally and also helps prevent corporate fraud and reputational damage.

  • How do HireRight solutions help contingent workforce management?

Through our Extended Workforce Solution (EWS), HireRight works with organisations to help them determine the employment screening standards their contingent workers and vendors must meet.

To ensure a centralized process for companies, the solution integrates with HireRight’s other employment screening options, resulting in a single point of management for an entire background screening program. EWS also helps ensure all vendors that the company works with comply with the specific screening standards set out by the company.

  • In compliance with the employment laws of different countries, how do you ensure that the background checks meet stringent employment standards of companies and government regulations in APAC region?

HireRight employs legal counsel to continually monitor all legislation and regulatory information related to new hiring and screening practices.

Our experts provide proactive notifications of proposed and new legislation impacting the pre-employment screening field, leveraging our partner network, and staying in constant communication with our customers.

  • India ranks fourth in Asia Pacific in resume fraud, according to a recent HireRight report. Which is the country that ranks first in APAC?

We’ve found the highest rate of discrepancies in the Philippines, with 30% of completed checks showing inaccuracies. This is based on over 400,000 checks that HireRight has conducted in Asia Pacific from January 2014 to April 2015.

This could be due to the high unemployment rate in the country, and intense competition for jobs which may lead to job seekers embellishing their resumes.

According to an International Labor Organisation report, the Philippines has the highest unemployment rate in Asia, standing at 6.4% as of April 2015. The same report also describes the challenges that young people have in finding jobs which could be another reason behind discrepancies in their resumes.

  • Shed light on the next generation application centre providing transparency to candidates to interact with HireRight, speed up and simplify the screening process. How does it work?

HireRight’s Next Generation Applicant Center is the industry’s only background check portal designed to enhance the candidate’s experience. It guides candidates step by step through the screening process, enables them to supply additional information, view the status in real-time as verifications are completed, and ask any questions directly.

The Applicant Centre can also help reduce data entry demands on the recruiter and candidate. It eliminates unnecessary steps or errors by facilitating data population from the candidate’s social profiles, such as LinkedIn, and by leveraging HireRight’s 50 integrations with leading HR management and applicant tracking systems.

The mobile-specific design allows candidates to complete forms and upload photos or scans of documents that may be needed for the background check, such as educational certificates, directly from a phone, mobile device, or desktop. This capability is especially critical for the many tech-savvy candidates in Asia who use mobile as their primary device.

All of these features help transform the screening experience for candidates, making it easier, faster and available at any time through the online portal. Since the Applicant Centre connects candidates directly with HireRight, the recruiter does not have to manage the ongoing communication, reducing workloads and improving efficiency. Ultimately this speeds up the entire process, resulting in faster time-to-hire rates.

  • Tell us your views on the future of hiring and recruitment trends in APAC going forward till 2020. What are the talent acquisition challenges in Singapore, Malaysia, and Philippines?

According to a PWC Talent Mobility Report, mobility levels are predicted to grow by 50% by 2020. This certainly chimes with our experience in the region and Asia’s workforce already comprises of a large proportion of expatriates and employees returning home to take advantage of opportunities in the region.

With the Asian economy continuing to grow, the competitive job market will bring about further recruitment and retention challenges. Organisations need to introduce innovative recruitment methods, such as social media or mobile recruiting, to attract the technologically-savvy Millennials and Generation Z.

Furthermore, candidate experience will play a huge role in helping companies differentiate themselves from the competition and attract the best talent. Finding quality recruits and retaining employees continue to be common talent acquisition challenges in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.

According to a recent study by Towers Watson, companies in Malaysia report a talent shortage due to the lack of an ‘employable workforce and brain drain’. It’s therefore important for employers in the region to develop long-term strategies to train existing staff and develop their competencies, recognising and rewarding the skills that they have within the organisation already.

In the Philippines, where the outsourcing industry reigns supreme, finding the right talent will become even more important as service providers shift from cost reduction to providing good business value.

Singapore, being a major financial hub in Asia, continues to attract talent from all over the world. With its economy continuing to strengthen and a low unemployment rate, competition for quality candidates remains fierce.

With major multinationals choosing Singapore as their regional hub, organisations need to invest in their employer brand, introducing innovative recruitment methods and leveraging the right technology and social networks to support this and stand out.

Also read: Employer Branding Best Practices for This Year

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