Hiring for Sales & Marketing professionals moved at a more measured pace in 2023, with only select roles and functions seeing robust demand.
One of the areas where such healthy demand could be found has been among senior leadership roles within the Consumer sectors, as more European retailers expand into Singapore to establish their Asia headquarters. “Retail companies have also doubled down on delivering exceptional customer experiences,” shares Wendy Heng, Associate Director at Robert Walters Singapore. “There has thus been a surge in demand for positions such as brand ambassadors, client engagement specialists, and customer experience managers and directors.”
Although some FMCG companies have relocated certain operational functions to neighbouring markets, recruitment for local market roles remains buoyant. The resurgence of travel after the pandemic led to a notable drop in demand for e-commerce talent, as consumer spending has shifted towards offline channels. Healthcare hiring, too, has seen a slowdown due to ongoing business consolidation, with several pharmaceutical companies enacting hiring freezes.
Meanwhile, challenging macroeconomic conditions have resulted in a hiring slowdown within the Industrial and Services sectors in 2023. Wendy notes that there was a lot of uncertainty around China’s economy recovering post-pandemic, and many firms have moved out of the country due to US-China tensions. A looming recession also added to the uncertainty. Generally, companies adopted a cautious “wait and see” approach, with limited hiring for newly created positions. Instead, the focus has been on backfilling essential roles in sales and account management.
Rising raw material costs have prompted chemical and industrial firms to pass these increased costs on to customers, which has dampened consumer appetite. More commoditised chemical firms have switched tacks to offer more specialised offerings – intensifying market competition. This trend is expected to persist into 2024.
Read on to find out more about Wendy’s expectations of the labour market and hiring trends for Singapore’s Sales & Marketing professionals in 2024.
They hybrid work arrangements that have become commonplace over the last couple of years show no signs of budging in the year ahead. Flexible start times will also continue to be a key trend in 2024 as companies seek to accommodate diverse employee needs. Businesses are also expected to continue their efforts to foster inclusive environments as part of a larger push for diversity and inclusion.
Increasingly, companies will seek out the returning Singaporean professionals, who have accrued valuable global perspectives and insights through work stints abroad. Efforts to hire ESG professionals have also intensified in 2023, and this is a trend that is expected to continue in 2024.
“There will be strong interest in candidates with a wide range of transferable skills in the commercial function,” Wendy mentions. “This shift reflects the need for professionals who can contribute across different areas and drive growth for the business.”
The most in-demand skillsets in 2024 are around business development, customer relations and account management. This stems from companies’ efforts to expand into new markets, increase their market share, unlock new sales channels, and bolster their existing business.
Roles that will be popular on the market include commercial directors and managers, business development managers, as well as professionals specialising in the customer relationship management (CRM) function.
Candidate motivations have evolved since the pandemic, and the changes are here to stay. Across the board, employees are searching for job satisfaction, though what that means differs for the individual.
Generally, candidates are no longer singularly fixated on salaries and benefits. Many have dialled back on gunning for promotions. Instead, the focus has shifted towards achieving better work-life balance, with flexible work arrangements ranking high on the priority list.
Senior-level candidates are increasingly drawn to companies where they have the autonomy to make a direct impact to the business. More of such candidates now prefer smaller firms with flatter hierarchical structures, which grant them more decision-making authority, over larger corporations where decisions must cut through multiple layers of approvals. “Candidates are even willing to take on roles with little to no salary increments, as long as the work fulfils them,” reveals Wendy.
The hiring market may have slowed down, but Wendy states that prospective employers may find that they have trouble attracting talent. “Candidates mull over any job changes now because they are concerned about job stability and security,” she explains. “Particularly in the industrial and professional services sectors, we saw that there were more counteroffers in 2023 than in previous years.”
Companies will benefit from adapting their talent retention and attraction strategies to address candidate motivations today. “Where business performance permits it, reward your employees with bonuses and increments as there is a lot of concern around rising costs of living. Benefits such as flexible and hybrid work arrangements also help employees achieve work-life balance,” Wendy advises. “Also help your teams stay engaged with learning and development opportunities.”
In terms of recruitment, Wendy recommends that employers be transparent with candidates about the expectations and challenges of the role. “The talent pool also remains tight in some areas, with candidates more reluctant to move jobs due to market uncertainty,” she says.
Be open to candidates with transferrable skillsets and experiences.
Job seekers and employees will expect above-average salary increments, given the impact of inflation and rising costs of living. However, employers are likely to adopt a cautious approach when approving pay raises due to increased operating costs.
Salaries are projected to go up by 10 – 15% for job movers.
Request access to our 2024 Salary Survey to benchmark salaries and to find out more about key hiring trends in the Sales & Marketing industry in Singapore.
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Wendy comes with 16 years recruitment experience and is currently leading the Sales & Marketing, Healthcare and Supply Chain & Procurement divisions.
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