If Q4 2020 and Q1 2021 was the path to recovery, I can tell that Q3 2021 marks the end of this difficult journey, while also starting a number of interesting trends.
Market inversion - Data Candidates have now the power
2020 was a year of frustration for HK Data candidates because the job market was moving very slowly. Data professionals looking for a decent job were restricted by a lack of choice, and the more risk-averse were waiting for the better days. But by the end of Q3 2021, the paradigm has totally changed.
Imagine being approached several times per week by recruiters and in-house talent acquisition about new jobs. How would you feel? What would you do?
This quarter, Data candidates have been doing what everyone would do, they are becoming more open to opportunities, which has led to a lot of movements in the market. Candidates who have been open for only a couple of weeks are already receiving several good offers which take away their worries about forfeiting possible bonuses. And if an offer isn’t strong enough, if the salary package was too low, or if no concessions were made, these candidates can simply move on to consider the next offer.
Companies are starting to feel that they are no longer in control, as candidates now have their own expectations and aren’t waiting to be cherry-picked anymore. The sudden shift has led to some bold and interesting moves within the Financial Services and Retail sectors.
Hence, if the trend doesn't slow down, the job market will likely follow Singapore’s footsteps, where someone's jumpiness is forgiven and people only stay in their jobs for 9 – 18 months.
Everybody wants to go Crypto
Multinationals can be quite old-fashioned, not innovative in comparison, and have a heavy tech legacy, meaning that Technology and Data are simply supporting the business but not the other way around. With Hong Kong’s position as the financial hub, the birthplace of many Fintech and virtual banks, and a proper gateway to Mainland China, why would young talented candidates choose to stay in these companies?
Hedge funds and Crypto firms have been on the rise this quarter. Their businesses are getting better and they have started to hire more, mostly on the platform side or hiring Data Scientists to set up new trading strategies alongside traders.
They are attracting new talent with better salaries and technologies while keeping business exposure minimal. This is starting a new era where things will go worse (or better, depends on how you see it) and more candidates moving into these firms.
Overseas candidates in and out
Firstly, a reprise of the burning question – are HK data candidates moving away from HK? The answer is not purely black or white, as you will see below.
While only a few local HK candidates left immediately, where things have changed is perhaps their mindset. As candidates struggle to project themselves after three to four years in Hong Kong and wouldn’t mind going overseas in a couple of years from now, especially for candidates between 25 and 35 years old. For those looking for an immediate job change this year, they would prefer a well-known multinational brand which will make their job search easier when moving abroad.
On the other side, candidates from overseas who are willing to move to HK are often preferred by Hiring Managers due to having better soft skills, communication, and more advanced tech knowledge, though only a few companies are willing to sponsor a full relocation/visa sponsor. These candidates are most of the time willing to move to HK for a family reason but are in general slightly disappointed about the technical level in the city which might discourage them.
And this is where, we, as experienced recruiters are adding more value for the candidates, acting as true advisors.
Data Engineer/Platform is the new sexy
Harvard Business Review 90, no. 10 (October 2012) named Data Scientist is the “The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century”; and this year, not only is Data Scientist a sexy role in HK, but also Data Engineering, if not more. The data job market is now all about cloud migration, customer-centric, enterprise platforms and improving data pipelines.
Chinese mainlanders are not visiting Hong Kong anymore, so local and regional companies need to find new ways to reach their customers and "digitalise" their products/business processes.
This accelerated digital transformation in turn put a lot of pressure on the Data and Tech teams who are supposed to deliver in a short amount of time, sometimes without real vision from the upper management and a lack of strong Team Leads who can push back on the business expectations.
Thankfully, some companies have understood that they won't be able to find many Data Engineering/Platforms experts in HK and have started to open to overseas candidates. Echoing with the candidate's jumpiness above, Data Engineering candidates are likely to only stay for 9 – 12 months in their jobs.
Will the Data market slow down in Q4?
It’s still unsure at this point, as candidates will be more reluctant to move as we get closer to the bonus period next year. But ultimately, the business demand will remain, creating new jobs and with skills like Cloud migration, deployment at scale, and the ability to deal with business stakeholders remain in demand.
If you’re curious to find out more about how the market is performing or if you need any support with your hiring, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.Posted about 2 years ago