Hr Market Update, April 2018 2000x500 Min

Profile Human Resources Market Update, Hong Kong, Apr 2018

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.


  • Hong Kong’s economy saw significant expansion in 2017, growing by 3.8% (up from 2.1% in 2016), with similar growth expected in 2018.

  • Higher tourist traffic into Hong Kong and greater exports to mainland China showed that Hong Kong’s private sector grew at its fastest rate in four years.

  • The employment market also tightened in 2017, with the unemployment rate at a 20-year low of 3.1%.

  • Projections of strong economic growth in China, together with continued steady growth from the US, will only contribute to the positive outlook in Hong Kong in 2018. 


  • Interestingly, the market began to pick up markedly from October 2017 and continues to be extremely buoyant. Even in some of the typically quietest months of December and January, we took on a number of new mandates that were additional headcounts, notably including front office recruitment positions. 

  • Of particular interest has been specialist roles including recruitment, talent management, and HRIS/HR Operations positions. As the market has tightened, clients are starting to look further afield (Singapore and beyond) and be more flexible with their requirements.

  • There is also an increased dissatisfaction in the workplace; more candidates are open to a move (than this time last year), many believe they are not being adequately developed in their current firm, are disengaged by ongoing office politics and in many cases hanker after better leadership.

  • Work/life balance remains an important attraction and retention tool, to such an extent that candidates in some instances will forgo an increase in compensation in favour of a flexible working arrangement.

  • Not only has the market picked up in financial services (across both sell side and buy side, insurance and boutiques), but also across FMCG, luxury and mass market retail. 


  • Up from 2017, base salary increases and bonuses seem to have fared moderately better across the board.

  • That said, given the confidence in the market, we are seeing candidates’ expectations on compensation increase. Typically candidates can expect to see a 10 to 15% base increase to move companies, but in this climate, the numbers could exceed this.

  • Notably, we have recently seen a number of clients buy-out notice periods and bonuses in an effort to expedite the process and ensure candidates start within the first quarter of 2018.


  • Having taken on (and completed) an unprecedented number of mandates in the first quarter of 2018, we are led to believe that the pickup in the market is set to continue through 2018.

  • Becoming wise to the shortage of available talent, candidates will also become increasingly demanding on their salary expectations and overall packages.

  • Clients who can move their recruitment processes quickly, be creative with total and holistic compensation packages, and who ultimately can recognise that each candidate has individual/unique needs, will be the winners in this refreshingly busy but candidate-short market. 


For more information or individually tailored advice, please do not hesitate to contact our regional Human Resources team:

Hong Kong Office - please contact Amanda Clarke

Singapore Office - please contact Pei Fen Chong

Shanghai Office - please contact Shelya Zhou

Beijing Office - please contact Ming Ming



Amanda Clarke, Director, Profile Search & Selection


April 2018

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