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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 Singapore. It identifies emerging themes across various industries and details the major factors impacting hiring and talent movement.


  • Data published earlier this year showed that Singapore’s economy grew at a faster pace in the final 3 months of last year than initially thought, although the city state faces fresh challenges amid rising concerns of trade protectionism under US President Donald Trump.

  • A sharp surge in factory output helped the economy grow 12.3% in the October-December period in 2016 in comparison with the previous three months on an annualised and seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry. That was up from the government’s initial estimate in January of a 9.1% expansion, giving hope of a moderate pick up after more than two years of slow growth.

  • Economic analysts and the government remain cautious about the outlook in 2017. This is due in part to external concerns related to US trade protectionism, domestic challenges of a weak services sector, and the tightening of Banking sector profits.


  • Despite the sluggish economic outlook, recruitment activity within the HR discipline got off to a relatively strong start in 2017 across most sectors. As the role of HR continues to evolve in the rapidly changing workplace of increased competition, leaner support models and technological advances, it is no surprise that employers continue to look to hire commercially minded HR professionals who can add real value.

  • In the first quarter of this year, there has been an increased demand for mid to senior-level talent up to the S$250,000 base salary level. Specifically this includes HR advisory and business partnering professionals, as well as specialist CoE positions including those in the rewards, recruitment and talent management space.

  • Career  movement  at  the  executive  and  regional  leadership  level  has been somewhat subdued. In some cases large institutions have continued to restructure, which has resulted in a number of retrenchments.  However, we have observed the creation of new executive HR roles particularly within the E-Commerce/Digital and Consumer sectors.

  • Candidates looking to make an external move are continuing to place a strong emphasis on career development, the ability to make a meaningful contribution, and stability within the sector. An additional trend coming out of 2016 was also the increased importance placed on strong mentorship and leadership.


  • Internal salary increases typically were in line with inflation, with the exception of high-performers who were awarded marginally more. In some cases there were no salary increases, particularly within the Investment Banking sector.

  • Candidates making a career transition to new employers can expect a 5% to 20% increase, particularly for mid-level talent. At the executive level, most candidates have adjusted their salary expectations and instead have focused on the challenge and career development opportunities on offer.​


  • As  the  Singapore  economy  and  job  market  continues  to  be  relatively subdued, there will be a continued focus on the localisation of HR talent for most roles.

  • Given the small pool of local talent, it remains challenging to fill vacancies requiring specialist skill sets and, as such, some employers will continue to remain open minded about hiring foreign HR professionals with current or previous experience in Asia.


PeiFen Chong, Director, Profile Search & Selection


April 2017