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While making the pay package more attractive is one way to recruit more people, raising salary offers can only do so much, says Rebecca Li, Talent Acquisition Manager, Funding Societies | Modalku.

According to a report commissioned by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Singapore alone will need 1.2mn additional digital workers by 2025 to remain competitive. The tech talent crunch is further intensified as Chinese tech giants expand into Singapore after facing pressures at home. Worldwide, 149mn new digital jobs in areas like privacy and trust, cybersecurity, data analysis, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud and data roles, and software development will be created according to Microsoft Data Science. All these affect both tech and non-tech firms as the former struggle to rapidly grow their teams, and the latter try to hire help to ramp up digital transformation.

How to hire top talent for your company, amid a regional talent shortage

According to the 2021 Tech Talent Expectation Survey, Singaporean tech professionals are rejecting job offers despite attractive compensation packages and benefits. While making the pay package more attractive is one way to recruit more people, raising salary offers can only do so much. Here are some ways companies can adopt to hire tech talents amid regional talent shortage and competition.

#1 Find unique selling points for employees

Every company has a set of value propositions when attracting and retaining talents. My personal guideline is to think of ways to ensure space for both personal and professional growth for employees.

Here at Funding Societies, we believe that our tech employees can drive impact for the organisation when they feel most at home in their choice of workplace. This is why our tech team is decentralised across regions, and has the option to work 100% remotely with support from us to set up a proper remote workspace.

Our culture of high trust and strong documentation also enables collaboration within and across teams. You can hear more about this from our CTO Ishan here.

#2 Maintain high candidate experience standards

In a highly competitive market for tech talent, providing the best end-to-end candidate experience possible is crucial. According to a CareerBuilder report, 42% of candidates will not apply for a position at your company if they had a bad experience, and one in five will actively advise their peers to not apply. This is unsurprising if you think about the job application process from the perspective of the applicant – If the people who are involved in the hiring process do not leave a good impression on the candidate, it reflects poorly on the firm as a whole.

The most common complaint we see in the industry about the candidate experience is when candidates are ‘ghosted’ – when firms do not follow up after an interview. At Funding Societies, candidate experience is always close to our heart and our talent acquisition team is trained to give prompt replies and feedback to our candidates.

Another good practice in building positive candidate experiences is to ensure a well-designed interview loop, e.g. no repetitive questions in different rounds of interview and assessment; making sure the interview sessions are less of a one-way discussion but more of a two-way conversation for candidates to learn about your company and culture too.

Last but not least, I always make it a point to remind all HR professionals that the candidate experience doesn’t stop when a candidate accepts an offer. It is the ongoing engagement that translates to a smooth and great onboarding experience for everyone.

#3 Look abroad

There are many ways to look abroad when it comes to hiring. Companies can bring foreign talents from abroad, bring locals working overseas back home, or build a regional team that spans across borders.

  • Bring foreign talents from abroad
    Bringing in foreign talents not only fills the resource gap but also injects global experience and perspectives. Grab, for instance, brought in Theo Vassilakis, a previous Google and Microsoft employee based in the United States as Chief Technology Officer to head and grow its tech teams.
  • Bring locals from abroad
    We can also extend our search to Singaporeans working outside of the country. They have both an international experience and an understanding of the local culture.
  • Build a regional tech team
    Many large companies focus on building tech teams across the region. At Funding Societies, our regional tech team resides in Singapore, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, The Philippines, and Vietnam.

#4 Form country and function-specific strategies

Due to the varying talent landscape, skills availability, and channels of recruitment, different countries and job functions need a unique strategy. There is also an uneven talent demand across tech verticals.

In Singapore alone, Singaporeans accounted for 70% of the net job growth for cybersecurity engineers and UX/UI designers; and 50% of the net job growth for data analysts and data scientists in 2019. However, less than 20% of software engineering jobs that year were taken up by Singaporeans. As such, HR professionals need to understand the talent market and perhaps even conduct an initial audit to see the needs of various job functions.

For instance, a LinkedIn-centred strategy may generate the most qualified candidate list in one country, but there may be specific local job boards for certain countries, or a more targeted recruitment agency for some job functions. In countries with a bigger pool of young talents, companies can consider spending more resources on building internship programmes. Conversely, in countries with more senior and skilled candidates, firms can devise a set of attraction and retention efforts such as retraining for mid-career switchers, or continuous learning pegged at a suitable level.

#5 Build company brand, employer brand, and team brand, leverage on big company events

One of Funding Societies’ flagship events this year is our recent Series C+ fundraise, which helps to build brand awareness and credibility for the firm, two ingredients of employer branding. It heartens me to see strong employee pride amongst my peers. For a stronger brand of our engineering team, we have also built an engineering blog to share with the industry how we tackle interesting technical problems. Furthermore, we conduct annual hackathons to engage our tech teams and a broader audience from the tech community.

#6 Tap on interim hires

For jobseekers, contract roles provide opportunities to learn and use the latest tech while offering comparable remuneration packages.

Employers, on the other hand, can use this opportunity to implement projects that are out of their current team capabilities without having to worry about increasing headcount. At the same time, the interim hire can provide training and expertise for the existing team. It is also a good way to ensure fit before making a permanent offer.

#7 Recruit early

One way to start recruitment efforts early is to build multiple internship intakes in a year. This builds both brand awareness from younger employees as well a sense of familiarity and loyalty. The internship period also allows the firm to know if the intern is a good fit for a full-time role.

Guideline principles in managing talent amid rapid expansion

When it comes to talent acquisition, planning ahead and paving the way by building the needed infrastructure, tools, and team will greatly aid your team's growth. Thinking out of the box and remaining agile when ideating recruitment strategies are crucial. To do so, get the talent acquisition team to stay close to the business to better manage human resources in today’s age of rapid expansion.

In the past 12 months, Funding Societies has hired over 320 staff across the region. As a company expands rapidly, it is increasingly important to build company culture effectively amongst the fast-growing teams. This involves hiring the right fit through cultural assessments built into the hiring process. It is also about keeping the fit right by making sure that employees understand and adopt what the company believes in.

Afterall, plastering the company values all around the office simply does not make the cut. Having two-way rich and informative sharings during onboarding sessions and events such as a fireside chat with the CEO helps. Lastly, leaders need to walk the talk as role models by acting on the company’s values in our day-to-day work.


Image / Provided [Author Rebecca Li, Talent Acquisition Manager, Funding Societies | Modalku]

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