Profile Human Resources Market Update, Hong Kong, Oct 2017

The following report provides an update on the key trends that we have observed within the Human Resources job market in Hong Kong. It identifies emerging themes across various industries and details the major factors impacting hiring and talent movement.


  • Thanks to strong stock and property markets, as well as increased employment and buoyant trade, the Hong Kong market far exceeded conservative forecasts in the first two quarters of this year with GDP growing 4.3% and 3.8% respectively. As such, in August, the Hong Kong government upgraded the country’s full-year economic target from 2-3% to 3-4%.

  • That said, recent geopolitical factors with the US and North Korea have added a tentative and subdued outlook to the current climate.


  • Despite the early pick-up in the HR job market at the beginning of 2017, we saw a relative cooling off during the second quarter with fewer roles than would normally be predicted for this time of year. While there has been some movement across a range of levels, replacement headcounts have been harder to secure with a number of roles being absorbed or divided internally.

  • That said, in the third quarter of 2017 there has been a marked rise in activity in general compared with this time last year and since the summer lull, a notable increase in roles in banking as well as alternative funds and insurance companies.

  • Perhaps due to the improved retail spending in the summer, we have continued to see new roles emerge from luxury, mass market retail and sourcing multinationals.

  • As employers seek to further validate the commerciality of HR as well as automate and streamline processes, a need for specialist roles such as HR Operations, Data Analytics and Rewards has been the most notable trend. Pleasingly, and a hopeful sign that the market is set to continue improving, we have started to see recruitment positions coming back into the fray. 


  • Having seen relatively flat bonuses in early 2017 (and in some parts decreases of up to 60% from 2016), it will be interesting to see if bonus payouts will improve in the forthcoming pay out.

  • Base pay increases largely stayed with inflation (2-4%) and those seeking jobs in new organisations are slowly showing signs of reducing their expectations for significant increases. Moreover, candidates are starting to look more holistically at the overall salary package and benefits (to include work-life balance and flexible working) and not just at the financials alone.


  • Early predictions of a pick-up in the recruitment market in 2017 may not have fully come to fruition in these last two quarters, but with the economy on the up (albeit tentatively) and a general disenchantment by employees feeling frustrated with flat salaries and a desire to improve their cultural environment and work-life balance, we are hopeful of a genuine recruitment surge in 2018.

  • As the demand for automation and digital improvements continue, we will almost certainly see an increase in the hiring of technical positions in HR Analytics as well as Change and Talent Management roles to manage the changing face of the employee workforce. 


Amanda Clarke, Director, Profile Search & Selection


October 2017

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