Candidate-driven market for sales and marketing roles in 2023

Hiring activity in the Sales and Marketing sector was in a state of ebb and flow across 2022. “The first half of the year was buoyant, with a significant number of roles created as markets reopened and companies backfilled roles from talent losses or restructuring during COVID times,” recounts Wendy Heng, Associate Director at Robert Walters Singapore. “Then the market slowed down in the second half of the year due to inflation and the impending recession. This created a situation where companies had more positions they wanted to hire for, but not enough candidates to fill them.”

Demand for talent also surged as more companies shifted their teams or regional headquarters to Singapore, resulting in more hiring for sectors such as retail. The bulk of these new entrants come from Hong Kong, which Wendy notes is losing its appeal and attraction due to a variety of factors such as political unrest and strict COVID-19 measures. 

2022 also saw strong competition for candidates in high demand areas such as digital and e-commerce, leading to higher salary increments and expectations. “Nevertheless, candidates still presented a cautious attitude towards moving, which has exacerbated the talent crunch,” says Wendy. Through it all, local talent continued to be in demand.

Read on to find out more about Wendy’s expectations of the labour market for Sales and Marketing professionals in 2023.

More focus on diversity and wellness in hiring

In 2023, companies will continue to focus on hiring local talent for most roles. There will also be a bigger focus on diversity and inclusion in hiring. 

Moving on to specific domains and positions, Wendy shares, “We expect to see more hiring in health and wellness related categories. Demand for positions related to the online space and customer or consumer engagement will also continue. Specific positions include those in analytics, digital, e-commerce, CRM, performance marketing and omnichannel marketing. Lastly, companies will continue to seek out proven sales professionals, especially those who are good at hunting deals or developing business.”

On the candidate front, Wendy foresees a larger focus on work-life balance or harmony. “This will manifest in the form of requests for remote or flexible work arrangements, or benefits relating to mental or physical wellness.” Candidates will also have higher salary expectations, and place a stronger focus on their organisation’s values, which are demonstrable in areas like CSR practices.

In-demand skill sets

“Besides experience and technical skill sets, it is important to note that employers also seek a range of soft skills,” says Wendy. These include strong stakeholder management, multi-tasking, the ability to work with change and ambiguity and resilience. “In 2023, candidates who have both soft skills and the in-demand hard skills within sectors will be a cut above the rest.”

FMCG

Within fast moving consumer goods, media and consumer insights roles will be highly sought after. The same applies for e-commerce sales and marketing, and key account management and sales roles.

Retail, Luxury & Consumer Technology

Candidates with digital skill sets will be in demand in these sectors. “There is a need for digital marketers with performance and programmatic experience. We will also see more roles in e-commerce sales and marketing, customer insights and analytics, and retail management being created,” says Wendy.

Healthcare

While there will be demand for digital marketing and omnichannel roles in the healthcare space, sector-specific roles will also take the stage. According to Wendy, “Companies will need talents with medical education, medical affairs, clinical or training experience – along with digital skillsets to top it all off. The market will also seek candidates for partnership and alliance management roles.”

Professional Services

Besides digital, roles in content, business development and marketing operations will see strong demand.

Industrial

“Within industrial sectors, there is more of a need for talent that have a more direct impact on the bottom line,” notes Wendy. Therefore, it is expected that business development, sales management and account management roles will be highly sought after.  

Polishing your employer branding

In a candidate-short market, hiring managers need to adapt their hiring strategies accordingly to succeed. On this topic, Wendy has several pieces of advice.

First off, companies should streamline the interview process to secure preferred candidates quickly. “Good candidates will have multiple opportunities, so be prepared to be the one doing the selling,” advises Wendy. “During the interview process, make sure you get a good understanding of the candidate’s motivation and be clear about what progression would look like for them should they take up the role. To avoid misalignment, be transparent about what the company expects and what it values.” Given current market conditions, employers will be more successful if they can benchmark and ensure competitive salaries and be open to hiring candidates based on their potential.

Understanding the perspectives of employees today can be useful for talent retention. Starting with compensation, Wendy recommends that companies conduct regular salary benchmarking exercises to ensure employees are compensated according to market rate, adding, “Offer non-standard increments to high-performing staff as they could switch companies and get a 15% to 20% pay rise immediately. Relook your benefits to promote better work-life balance. Provide improved parental leave, or flexible work arrangements like the option of working remotely for a certain amount of time in a year.”

Lastly, Wendy says, “Consider your employees first whenever new roles become available. In roles where upward progression is challenging, look at short-term assignments to broaden the chosen candidate’s learning. Particularly as promising talents always seek to improve themselves, access to learning and development opportunities plays a critical piece in retention.”

Streamline the interview process to secure your preferred candidates quickly.

Higher salaries for talent-scarce positions

In 2023, most candidates will move at an increment of 15% to 20%. “However, it’s a different story in talent-short areas like e-commerce account management. For such roles, salary increments could exceed 30%,” Wendy highlights. 

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