The hirer’s guide to filling hard-to-fill roles in Malaysia

Amidst an optimistic economic outlook, here are resources, data points, and best practices to provide employers with the support you need.

This article is brought to you by JobStreet Malaysia.

"The domestic economy would be supported by the improving labour market, which has shown continued improvements in tandem with stronger economic activity. On a year-on year basis, private sector nominal wages improved in line with economic activity, recording a higher growth of 7.8% in the second quarter."

This optimistic sentiment was shared by none other than the Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Yunus, at the latest economic outlook update on 12 August 2022, reflecting a renewed wave of confidence across the nation.

But recovery doesn’t necessarily come easy for employers, who are faced with a mammoth shift in the values and motivation of their workforce. Previously driven by financial compensation and job security, employees now instead prioritise learning opportunities, authentic relationships, and the ability to give back to society. All of this is driving the phenomenon many call ‘the Great Resignation’, or as HRO calls it, 'the big HR reawakening'.

Additionally, the pandemic has accelerated uptake in digital-led initiatives, leading to a surge in demand for digital-savvy talent. Whether you are in a bank, FMCG, engineering, or consulting, it’s undeniable that you’re searching for people with digital skills. This poses a particularly perplexing problem for employers outside the technology industry, who need this highly desirable talent pool to transform their businesses but might not be digital workers’ first choice when they look for work. In fact, four in 10 digital talent recently surveyed are actively job hunting, and close to 75% expect to change positions in the near future.

In industry conversations, we thus identify a range of talent challenges in Malaysia, namely: a mismatch in candidates’ aspirations and what employers can provide; a mismatch in skills gap between the workforce and occupations that don’t fully utilise their skills, and the inability for talent supply to keep up with urgent demands for business growth.

"As such, many talented employees have taken to venturing into a different industry or entrepreneurship,” observes Vic Sithasanan, Managing Director for JobStreet Malaysia. "Employers should continue to stand out in employer branding and in creating a conducive culture to attract and keep the right talent."

While there is no crystal ball at hand, we have especially curated a pool of resources for hirers and employers in Malaysia – data points, best practices, and more to help you make the right decisions and win the talent war.

Resource #1: Profiling the elusive digital talent

We know that digital talent is among the most in-demand roles in Malaysia. Yet, they are also among the hardest roles to find. Vic attributes this to many employers remaining "trapped with emphasis on traditional degrees and experience in the same field." As such, he points out, employers have to re-imagine the ways in which they approach digital talent.

So what do digital-savvy employees really want?

Digital workers are almost unanimous in their desire to retain some amount of flexibility in where they work. In all, 95% of digital respondents want to work from home at least once a week, as cited in the Decoding Digital Talent report. However, only a quarter want to work completely remotely all of the time and many would prefer to come into the office two or three days a week, to collaborate with their teams or meet with their managers.

They are also particular about where they might relocate for a job – interestingly, the Asia Pacific region is growing as a go-to destination for digital talent to relocate to, and Kuala Lumpur has emerged as the 16th most attractive city for them, entering the top 30 for the first time. Meanwhile, in a good reminder for managers, digital workers place even more importance now than in the past on good relationships with colleagues and managers and on being recognised for what they do. Last but not least, they are confident in their desirability, and many are open to trading job security for a new opportunity that helps them advance their career.

Resource #2: Industry-specific outlook

Per the Job Outlook Report 2022, the following industries led the way in job ads volume in 2021:

  1. Manufacturing (13.7%)
  2. Computer/IT (13.6%)
  3. Retail & trade (7.1%)
  4. Banking & finance (6.7%)
  5. Electrical/electronic (5.9%)
  6. Construction & building (4.8%)
  7. Food & beverage (4.6%)
  8. Transportation (3.8%)
  9. Consulting (3.6%)
  10. Healthcare (3.3%)

As Malaysia heals from the pandemic, Vic notes industries like F&B, retail, tourism, and manufacturing are now creating new job opportunities for Malaysians.

Meanwhile, the following are the most in-demand specialisations, according to the volume of job ads:

  1. Sales & marketing (19.6%)
  2. Accounting & finance (13.5%)
  3. Manufacturing (12.3%)
  4. Computer/IT (10.3%)
  5. Admin/HR (10%)
  6. Services (8.4%)
  7. Engineering (8.2%)
  8. Hotel/restaurant (4.1%)
  9. Building & construction (3.9%)
  10. Arts, media & communications (2.6%)

Incidentally, the hardest-to-fill roles in the country fall into some of the industries listed above — healthcare, hospitality, F&B, legal, and sales & marketing, Vic notes. How can hirers better attract such talent amidst the noise of the market?

The #1 way is to offer an attractive salary & compensation package, as talent trends have shown. Other methods you could consider include: 

Resource #3: Expect more from your talent partners

Here's something you may not have considered yet – it's worth working closer with your preferred talent partner to set the best possible system in place — one that’s flexible, has value for money, and supports you in driving the best talent to your job ad.

JobStreet Malaysia is proud to be that partner, headquartered and founded in Kuala Lumpur and celebrating 25 years in the nation this year.

The platform has just introduced Ad Budget, a new budget-based ad model that allows you, the hirer, to take charge of your ad budget spending. This package provides you with:

  • More flexibility & effectiveness: pick and choose the right ad type every time;
  • More discounts & savings: secure discounts for different ad type and save with each ad posting, and
  • Lasting discounts: discounts applicable anytime within contract, even after you have used up your budget.

It’s also hassle-free, priced fairly, and gives you easier control of your budget and account with fewer packages to manage.

Additionally, new customers can look forward receiving to a free lite ad when you register your interest! There’s lots more to come as JobStreet continues to unlock more industry-leading features exclusively for employers. Vic affirms: "We are excited about filling in the HR ecosystem with end-to-end solutions. Next on the horizon, we look forward to bringing you capabilities for 'borderless' hiring to serve hirers' needs amidst continuing globalisation."

The JobStreet team is ever ready to help – so if you’re ready to explore a new ad budget model, write to the team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today.

Image / Shutterstock

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