There was a healthy level of hiring activity for secretarial and business support staff in the first half of 2015. A majority of permanent vacancies were replacement positions with demand coming primarily from the commerce sector, especially local conglomerates and companies in the property and construction industry. The contract market was candidate-driven and financial services firms hired actively.
The growing influence of China on businesses in Hong Kong was a key factor in shaping most organisations’ hiring needs. With more companies moving their operations to China or setting up offices there, we saw a high demand for office administrative candidates to assist with such moves. Mandarin-speaking secretaries were equally sought-after as mainland Chinese companies continued to expand in Hong Kong.
Companies also sought candidates with the flexibility to perform multiple supporting functions. In particular, SMEs looked for administrators with basic accounting and HR skills, and receptionists who could assist with administrative tasks such as office renovation and facilities management. Financial and professional services firms also required junior candidates with strong Excel skills as well as knowledge in pivot tables and v-lookup to manage reporting and consolidation.
On the contract side, in addition to a consistent demand for ad-hoc support candidates willing to take up short-term contracts, we also observed a greater need for mid to senior-level executive assistants to support senior management. Contract junior administrative assistants with a strong command in English and Cantonese were also highly sought-after; those with the right skill set and cultural fit would likely be converted into a permanent hire as companies looked to develop talent from within.
We expect to see similar hiring trends for the rest of the year. The recruitment process however may be more long drawn as hiring managers become more selective in order to hire a perfect match for the job. As professionals place increasing emphasis on benefits, learning opportunities and work-life balance, apart from offering a competitive salary package, companies should also address these factors in order to secure their ideal candidates. Professionals switching between permanent positions will expect a minimum salary increment of 10% while contractors will usually look for a 15% increase.
For the full report and latest salary information, please click to download the Robert Walters 2015 Hong Kong Market Update - Secretarial & Business Support.
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