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The recruitment war

Ross O. Storey | Feb. 23, 2009
James Mendes, Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) shares his thoughts about the current IT recruitment environment

Despite the economic downturn, the recruitment war for talented CEOs and CIOs continues unabated, with those experienced in cost saving, off shoring, running strategic partnerships and the ability to directly impact revenue, having a distinct edge.

MIS Asia magazine editor, Ross O. Storey shared thoughts with James Mendes, Managing Director of Asia Pacific, Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) about the current IT recruitment environment. AMS is a large independent provider of recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) solutions to bluechip companies worldwide.

From your enterprise's perspective, how has the current financial turmoil effected senior IT employment, recruiting and salaries in this region?

The demand for senior IT specialists has remained relatively strong during the current financial crisis.  In tough economic times, successful companies seek rainmakers in all areas of their business - top performers who can come into a role, motivate staff, generate cost efficiencies and/or develop revenues, and move the company forward.

In isolation, recruitment has undergone change as the overall job market has tightened companies are seeking more bang for their buck and tend to focus more on detailed screening and assessment processes to ensure they find the ideal candidate for each role.

Companies are working hard to retain their staff and take care of their top performers - times of turmoil create a great deal of opportunity for headhunters, so its important to secure key talent as they are the ones who continue to have options and opportunities to explore. Leadership teams play a significant part in the retention effort, communicating with staff and focusing on talent management.

As companies rationalise costs across the business, salaries inevitably come into focus. Expect to see a rationalisation of salary levels and consistency in remuneration across the industry as a whole base salaries are likely to remain relatively unchanged, but those staff in senior decision-making positions will have bonuses and incentives linked very directly, clearly and transparently to specific business performance targets. Senior and skilled IT professionals will remain in demand while entry-level and junior candidates will face increased competition as the recruitment market tightens and companies look to move lower levels tasks to lower costs countries.

What do you believe will be the overall 2009 outlook for IT recruitment, employment and salaries in the Asia pacific? Are there any specific countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China) where you see the situation as being better/worse than others?

There will be a slowdown in hiring across the IT industry across Asia, and there is evidence of this occurring already. Recruitment will become more selective as companies focus on identifying superior IT talent as part of the selection process - as hiring volumes drop, recruitment teams will work harder to ensure that the candidates that they place are the best candidates and not just those available on the market. Salaries are unlikely to grow at the rate they have in recent times as overall demand drops and the job market cools.


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