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Job Redesign: Key to Keeping Up With A Shifted Market

By Dhiva Karthik, Head of Executive Search

It pays for companies to relook at their job requirements while the candidates alter their course.

To recap from where we left off in Part 1, job profiles tend to be the same pre- and post-Covid-19 geographically. What that means is that Klang Valley’s concentration of shared services like finance, HR, marketing and customer service are still some of the more popular jobs in the capital city and as such, it is where the talents tend to congregate the most.

In Penang, the job market sees engineers of all genres residing there to fill the readily available roles in the manufacturing plants (like the semiconductor industry) and no different are the talents in Johor where they are also inclined towards manufacturing but with an extension to the heavy industries.

But while the all-season job profiles may stand as somewhat stereotypical, hiring managers are now hard pressed to spot the right talents due the way jobs are looked at.

Jarvis, where are the talents?

To cite the tech sector as an example, it is normal for a techie to receive job opportunities on a daily basis, some receiving up to a whopping 45 phone calls a day. Such a high demand is nothing new because not all tech talents are easily lured by just Ringgit and cents. Parameters they scrutinise include the kind of technology they will be exposed to, the profile of the projects, the reputation of the company and the level of flexibility granted when hired. Interestingly, the conventionally more rigid finance-related candidates are also evaluating jobs this way as we speak.

As a reference, a heavy industries client in Negeri Sembilan failed to secure a Business Analyst after more than months of searching. Then came this candidate who was willing to take on the challenge and relocate to the state. But what runs through the veins of the techies must have cut across the tech populace because after only two months, this foreign talent resigned and went looking for more “freedom” ie. to work from wherever he pleases instead of clocking in daily at the office.

In what ways then can candidates prepare themselves so they can stay at a job longer and build an edge over other talents?

Firstly, they should be mindful that companies are looking at their hires in three broad categories:

  • Entry – candidates are hired for their knowledge and attitude because everything else can be trained;
  • Middle – the important thing here is skills or skills set because they are required to train the juniors; and
  • Top – this is about hiring the top management to drive the company’s purpose, value and culture. Candidates in this category must already be a competent lot.

Secondly, they may choose to use social media platforms like LinkedIn to reach companies they aim to work for. It can be a good way to connect with the employers before the full scale of the recruitment process is underway.

Candidates in Malaysia can also identify with the prevalent hot jobs that are available in their cities (see Insights into Malaysia’s Pulsating Job Market). This could help reduce the gap in landing a job.

But does that mean a marketing candidate would not be sought after in places like Penang and Johor?

No, such jobs do exist, the only requirement is for them to relocate.

As fortune favours the bold, relocation may not be a bad thing because some companies are more eager to offer a better package to attract talents. In fact, Penang companies are at times willing to compensate shared services talents with a relocation allowance, not forgetting the competitive salaries rivalling those in Klang Valley.

Further, because candidates have also begun altering their employment demands, companies must be sensitive to such changes and fine tune their search process. The importance of identifying this early can save a company from long drawn ramifications because as the talents prefer to strive for “balance” these days, so must the company’s job specifications in adapting and this is where hiring managers must be adept to redesign jobs.

For example, if a hiring manager finds no qualified candidates coming through after two or three months of advertising the vacancy, he or she must consult the hiring superior on whether the job scope can be dissected into smaller parts. Under such circumstances, it shouldn’t surprise if the job is eventually split into “Job A” fitting a permanent hire and “Job B” contracted to a freelancer.

Vacancies kept open too long may also warrant the question if the job is still presently required. This is how dynamic the hiring market has been in recent years and it is likely to continue this way into the near future. The role of HR as such is no longer confined to just recruitment but more as a strategic partner to the top management.

But some might say, isn’t a talent with adequate experience and qualifications able to fill the role just like anybody else?

Well, a European company did just that when they opened an office in Malaysia. To them, it was a no-brainer to transfer someone from HQ to head the operations here, citing familiarity and culturally-fit as the reasons for the appointment. Unfortunately, this strategy fell flat, not just once but twice.

By the time they terminated the third appointee (an Asean executive), 12 years had gone past and by then, they were more accepting to engage a search firm like CXL.

It is heartening to note that the results from this fourth hire through us were more startling than a fairy tale. From drowning in the red for a dozen years, the company emerged into the black after onboarding this new chief, and while their competitors shrank in market capitalisation during the Covid-19 period, this local head honcho only in his 30’s led a remarkable expansionary momentum. The secret? He was more ready to deploy digital marketing compared to his older predecessors.

His success drove home an important point – unlike how qualifications and experience used to dictate a hire, converting analytics to tangible results has become a new set of barometers that one can measure a talent with. In other words, the job market has shifted, even at the top level of an international company. It is imperative hence that this will cascade down to every level of a company; that’s if these companies are poised to remain relevant in a digitally powered post-pandemic world.



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