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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.


  • The job market in 2016 ended a lot more positively than it began. With Brexit under way and the US elections over, confidence has been returning slowly but surely to the Asian job market.

  • The economy advanced 3.1% (year on year) in the last quarter of 2016 (the strongest growth since Q2 2015), which was largely the result of a rise in private spending, as well as higher exports and investment.

  • Despite economists previously warning of a challenging 2017 – in part due to strong local currency and anticipated interest rate rises in the US – the HR job market in Hong Kong has had a relatively buoyant first quarter of 2017.


  • Early into 2017 we saw positive signs of life in the HR recruitment market. New headcount has been created and candidates have started looking out for opportunities a little more proactively.

  • In addition, we have seen an increase in senior-level roles, movement within the Financial Services sector and other industries, including luxury and mass market retail, have also started to pick up.

  • As clients continue to focus on retaining their staff, there has been an ongoing influx of Talent Management, Leadership Development and Learning roles across a range of levels and particularly within Financial Services.

  • Other specialist roles in the Rewards, Mobility and ER space have also picked up this year, highlighting movement in these spaces, but also a need to bolster and ensure HR teams are fully equipped to react to the increasingly complex employee life cycles.


  • It will be no surprise that bonuses paid in early 2017 were either flat or down compared to the same time last year.

  • While  some  bonuses  within  the  Banking  sector  were  flat  for  HR professionals, others reported decreases of up to 60% from early 2016.

  • Base pay increases were generally unexciting and, for the most part, were in the region of 2 to 4%.


  • Although there has been a healthy number of HR positions so far this year, May and June promise to see even more given the usual 2-3 months delay from when bonuses are paid to when a real pick up occurs in hiring.

  • Through our ‘Working in Asia’ survey last year we discovered that 66% of employees in Hong Kong are looking to leave their present employer in the near future. As these people begin to get approached about roles elsewhere there will be a domino effect and the market will continue to improve through this year and into 2018.

  • As 2017 progresses and we adapt to technological advances and digital disruptions, we will continue to see more of a demand for experience in Change Management and Organisational Development, strong commercial acumen and a customer centric vision, as well as an ability to record and report on more detailed data analytics.

  • With the promise of more vacancies in the market we will likely see, over the next 12 months, a tightening of the candidate pool and an accompanying increase in salaries along with an openness to hire talent from outside of HK, and even Asia.


Richard Letcher, Managing Director, Profile Search & Selection


April 2017