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Singapore firms losing out on top IT talent

Hiring processes that could take more than four months in some cases are leading top tech professionals in Singapore’s tight labour market to look elsewhere

Prolonged hiring processes are hindering Singapore companies from nabbing top IT talent who are well aware of their market value and are not likely to wait around, a study has found.

According to the study commissioned by recruitment consultancy Robert Half Singapore, it took, on average, 3.5 months to hire staff-level professionals and 4.5 months to hire management-level staff.

Asked about the main reasons for slow recruitment processes, almost half (40%) of Singapore CIOs said it was challenging to find candidates with the right skills, while more than one in three (37%) believed there were too many stakeholders involved in interview rounds.

A further 31% said the number of résumé submissions per role has increased, indicating that hiring managers might feel overwhelmed with applications to review during the recruitment process. 

Not surprisingly, Singaporean CIOs find it particularly hard to source for talent in IT security (59%), business intelligence (36%) and cloud technology (32%), all of which are IT segments that underpin digital transformation efforts in many organisations.

“Operating in a highly competitive global region, it is understandable for Singaporean companies to invest a significant amount of time in the recruitment process to secure the best staff for their teams,” said Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, managing director at Robert Half Singapore.

“Yet oftentimes it has the opposite effect and results in top talent becoming disinterested in a prolonged hiring process, and accepting a job offer with competing organisations. Companies need to act fast if they want to secure the right and best talent for their teams,” he added.

To boost their chances of securing top talent, 97% of Singaporean CIOs are actively taking measures to speed up the recruitment process. Almost half (43%) of Singaporean CIOs have set up a pipeline of qualified candidates so they do not need to restart the hiring process from scratch.

Read more about IT skills in Singapore

More than one in three (35%) have improved their communication with candidates about the recruitment process to keep them engaged, and 31% are conducting more initial interviews by phone or video conferencing to create a shortlist of preferred candidates. A further 29% are limiting the number of internal stakeholders involved.

“To avoid delays in the recruitment process, IT employers need to proactively address where the setbacks are coming from – and then actively address any issues,” Imbert-Bouchard said.

“By being prepared, limiting the number of internal stakeholders, as well as reducing the number of interview rounds, companies are in a prime position to recruit the best people for their teams.”

Tan Jinglun, IT director at Singapore car classifieds website sgCarMart, however, told Computer Weekly that his company’s hiring processes had not hindered efforts to hire talent. Rather, the lack of software developers in Singapore was a bigger issue. “We often had to turn to recruitment agencies to help us with the talent search,” he said.

MyRepublic, a Singapore-based fibre broadband service provider, has put in place a collaborative hiring process, where team members are involved in evaluating a candidate.

This helps us in getting a much better chance of assimilating a new staff member into the group, since the team has pre-evaluated the person for not only his or her technical capabilities, but also the cultural fit for our organisation, said Eugene Yeo, CIO of MyRepublic.

Yeo said MyRepublic is also looking to organise hackathons and community training events to see if it can contribute to IT community at large, and at the same time, spot talent that may be keen to join the company.

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