Rapid business growth, changing candidate demands and a shortage of qualified professionals will create intense competition for talent in Asia-Pacific during 2017, according to a new global study released by the FutureStep division of Korn Ferry, the preeminent global people and organisation advisory firm.
In the first part of its three Talent Forecast reports, based on a global survey by FutureStep on more than 1,100 hiring professionals from across the globe, it revealed that almost two-thirds (57%) of recruitment professionals in APAC say sourcing qualified candidates is now more difficult than it was last year.
Research and development and sales roles are amongst the hardest to fill according to APAC respondents.
“Respondents from Asia-Pacific indicated candidate scarcity for highly skilled and technical roles will be significantly greater in 2017,” said Pip Eastman, Managing Director, ASEAN at Korn Ferry Futurestep. “As a result, talent acquisition professionals throughout the region will need to use all of the resources at their disposal, in order to create and articulate an employer brand that attracts, excites and ultimately retains the best candidates for the job.”
Significant numbers of those surveyed in APAC say that recruitment activity in the region is also being impacted by rapid business growth and the growing need for new skills in a changing market (both 20%), as well as continued economic uncertainty (19%).
And, as candidate priorities change in light of greater demand for their skills, resourcing professionals in the region will need to consider on how to create a more compelling offer.
Although hiring professional leaders surveyed for the report cited, the benefits package as the defining factor in candidate appeal both today and five years ago, there seems to be little doubt that its significance is dwindling.
While almost half (43%) of those questioned pointed out towards this being a key defining factor when trying to attract candidates five years ago, just a quarter said that the same was true today. Instead, company culture (20%) and career progression (21%) are seen as extremely important when trying to entice APAC candidates.
“Five years ago, the pay and benefits package was considered to be the most defining factor (43%) in attracting high-quality candidates to roles in APAC. Whilst this continues to be an important factor, it is dwindling in importance as focus moves to culture and career progression,” continued Eastman. “This shift reflects similar changes globally.”
The trend looks set to continue well into the future. When respondents in Asia Pacific were asked specifically on what might draw candidates to a role in the next five years time, they expect company culture (26%), flexible working (22%) and the company mission (15%) to be defining factors in winning a prospect’s attention.
“The emphasis that candidates are beginning to place on factors like culture, flexible working practices and company’s mission cannot be underestimated,” concluded Eastman.
“The ability to create an appealing, empathetic employer brand that clearly communicates its vision and purpose is only going to become more important to attracting top talent, as the competition becomes increasingly fierce over the coming years.”
Organizations need talented employees to drive strategy and achieve their goals, and with the improving economy, finding and recruiting the right people for the job is becoming more difficult.
“Talent acquisition leaders can’t rely on what worked yesterday when they’re eyeing top talent today, and tomorrow will probably bring a new set of candidate expectations,” said Jeanne MacDonald, global operating executive and president of talent acquisition solutions at Korn Ferry Futurestep.
“Organizations must understand these new priorities and requirements of the modern-day candidate and adapt if they are to secure and retain the best talent.”
“Millennials are absolutely looking for culture and fit. They want to feel good about where they’re working, beyond cosmetic changes to creating a shared sense of purpose,” MacDonald added. “Gen X, on other hand, is more interested in taking their skill set to a place where they can make an impact. Organizations with a culture of acknowledging that impact also have a greater chance of retaining top talent of that generation.”
Beyond change, nurturing a strong and consistent culture requires constant support from top management and buy-in from leaders at every level. From a recruitment perspective, it’s important that talent acquisition professionals are able to passionately articulate the organizational culture and provide tangible examples of how culture manifests itself every day in the organization.
As talent acquisition professionals work to adapt to the changing priorities of the candidate, they must also focus on attributes needed to fill the toughest positions. When recruiting for the sales function, it’s critical to understand that different roles have different criteria. Outstanding sales people often do not make outstanding sales managers, according to Korn Ferry Hay Group research.
When recruiting for a sales manager position, organizations should look for individuals with good sales skills, but who also show a strong propensity toward coaching and mentorship. To meet the challenges to recruitment of top talent, organizations should first align talent acquisition with business strategy, so that the talent acquisition professional has the insight and knowledge to establish relationships with the potential candidates in advance of openings.
Secondarily, organizations should develop a blended approach to talent management and recruitment that includes an effective campus recruitment operation, a robust contingent workforce, a strong social media presence targeted to their worker needs, a powerful employee brand and an effective training and leadership development program.
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