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Contractors in high demand – but mind the salary gap


Updated: 08 Jul 2015

Vacancy activity is rising in Hong Kong for contract professionals, but a leading recruiter says that while candidates are more accepting of these assignments they want a higher salary than employers are willing to offer.

In its latest Hays Quarterly Report for July to September 2015, recruiting experts Hays says that a growing list of both permanent and contract candidates are in high demand. Yet while permanent candidate expectations are reasonable, there is a gap between the salary increase expectations of employers and employees when it comes to contract roles.

“Contractors, or candidates interviewing for contracting opportunities, typically ask for a higher pay rate given that such roles offer fewer benefits compared to permanent roles,” says Dean Stallard, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong. “However employers are offering only modest increments in the current business climate.”

Dean says that candidates are becoming more accepting of temporary roles. “Many contractors are already working for a premium rate and as a result permanent employees are open to temporary positions based on the potential they offer to earn a higher compensation.”

The Hays Quarterly Report also found that people who can win new business and ensure regulatory compliance are amongst those in highest demand, while IT, office support and HR professionals are also needed. A selection of skills in demand includes:

New business creation, sales and cost control:

• Within banking & financial services we’re seeing high demand for Senior Corporate Bankers who can bring new corporate banking clients to a bank. Within risk management Credit Approvers and Senior Credit Analysts are sought since not all new clients have been profitable and there are now a high number of delinquent accounts and non-performing loans.
• Within Hong Kong’s construction sector there is a huge focus from consultancies and contractors on recruiting well-connected Business Development Managers to bring in more business.
• We continue to see sustained hiring activity within Hong Kong’s property industry, with investment professionals sought to help raise capital and attract institutional investors.
Digital Marketing Specialists and Managers are sought as companies shift their traditional marketing budget online to create more targeted campaigns and take advantage of lower costs.
Sales representatives are needed in the life sciences sector, especially those with two to five years of experience. Candidates at this level tend to receive internal promotion and therefore there is a constant need to replace them.
Sourcing, merchandising and procurement candidates working within hard-line products are sought by retail employers to source products for many western markets.

Regulatory compliance:

Internal Auditors are in high demand. In response to increasing regulations for Hong Kong banks, the demand for risk and compliance candidates has skyrocketed and in turn has increased demand in internal audit.
Compliance Managers are needed in the insurance industry, especially by employers who recognise that insurers best equipped to manage regulatory challenges will benefit from potentially significant sales increases. In addition, specialised compliance roles are being created to tackle the increasing complexities in the regulatory landscape.
Risk Managers are needed too. Insurers that are committed to growth are aware that risk management needs reinforcement. This may include operational risk, financial crime, information security, fraud, credit, insurance, market and reputational risk.
• Financial institutions need legal professionals to align with global regulatory standards such as (the US-originated) Dodd-Frank, FATCA legislation and the (European) MiFID requirements. These need increasingly to be synced and localised in Asia.

Other trends of note:

• We’re seeing high demand for Learning & Development Managers as companies invest more in the learning & development of their staff in order to aid their retention efforts.
• Hong Kong’s IT recruitment market is very active; the IT services sector is growing rapidly and is constantly looking for good candidates. In particular demand are Director level IT professionals who can lead and grow teams as companies update and expand their IT capability.
• In finance technology Senior Business Analysts/Project Managers are needed as companies attempt to do more with less. There is a strong need for technology teams to communicate well with the business and integrate better with business users.
Executive Assistants and Personal Assistants are also in high demand. Employers look for candidates with experience working in large multinational corporate environments. Those with a background in the banking, insurance and financial services industries are in greatest demand.

To see the full list of skills in demand and trends for your industry, please visit

Hays is located in Hong Kong at Unit 5803-7, The Centre, 99 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong. Phone +852 2521 8884or email

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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For further information please contact Lucy Sharp, Regional Head of Marketing at Hays, on +61 2 8226 9885 or

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