Asia jobs

Asian professionals go job-hopping

Singaporeans hope to trade up in the job market in the next few months according to a recent poll, while another survey shows that Hong Kong employers rely on social networking sites to vet job applications.
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Let the rat race begin
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<div style="text-align: left;"> Let the rat race begin </div>

Perhaps life is simply too safe for affluent Singaporeans; maybe too dull. Several friends and acquaintances take their holidays trekking through jungles and dodging unexploded US bombs in Laos, or risking frost-bite and pulmonary edema in Nepal; the bravest or most fool-hardy might even visit an average British town on a normal Saturday night.

Increasingly, too, they can’t keep still in their working lives. They are prepared to take risks, and the motivation could well be ambition.

More than 61% of professionals in Singapore are hoping to move jobs within the next three months, according to a recent global poll conducted by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters.  

Participants, who work in finance and general commerce, were asked when they hoped to make their next career move, with answer options ranging from the next three months to three years. In fact, none of the Singaporean respondents want to hang around for much longer.

The poll also showed 24% are hoping to job-hop in the next three-to-six months, 7% in six-to-12 months, and 8% are looking to move in 12-to-18 months.

Perhaps rather obviously, “career advancement” was the reason for seeking greener pastures, according to a spokesperson at Robert Walters. That could mean more money, greater responsibility, higher status or simply less boring work.  

The one-off poll took place at the end of the first quarter of this year, so many of the respondents must have already submitted new job applications, and some may even have been successful.

“These figures indicate that professionals are optimistic about the job market,” said Andrea Ross, managing director at Robert Walters Singapore & Malaysia.

This is unsurprising. Singapore’s unemployment rate fell to a three year low of 1.9% in the first quarter of 2011, down from 2.2% in the previous quarter.

The poll of more than 2,835 mid-to-senior level managers worldwide found that Asian workers with the next most itchy feet were in Hong Kong, where 57% hoped to switch employers within three months, followed by Malaysians (56%) and Thais (52%). All these numbers are high compared with countries in other regions.

“With so many job-seekers looking to move in the next three months, employers are likely to face an increase in staff churn and greater pressure to retain their top talent,” added Ross.

Meanwhile, separate research by Robert Half, another leading head-hunter, showed that the recruitment process undertaken by Hong Kong employers has firmly embraced social networking sites.

According to its latest Workplace Survey, released yesterday, “71% of hiring managers [in Hong Kong] admit they check potential candidates’ Facebook profiles before offering them a job”, which is well above the regional average of 50%.

Andrew Morris, managing director Greater China at Robert Half International, provided several tips to help jobseekers manage their Facebook presence. These include adding a “professional”-looking profile picture, one that “adds legitimacy and confirms that you’re the right ‘Mary Jones’”.

He also advised that they are careful about what they post on the wall for all to see, and in general to keep it focused. So, the hobbies you share with your mates might – possibly – make you entertaining, but are less likely to be ones that appeal to prospective employers.

Just as important, “avoid venting”: you could upset somebody. Indeed, maybe venting is best left to unemployable bloggers, anonymous feedback replies to media articles and, of course, to ranting journalists.

Finally, suggested Morris, take ‘no’ for an answer. “Keep in mind,” he said diplomatically, “that some people may not want to connect with you, including your boss or colleagues”. In other words, stalking is not a good idea.

Better etiquette on social networking sites might also reduce tension inside a company. The survey found that as much as 69% of the 420 Hong Kong respondents claimed that the use of these sites “negatively impact workplace relationships”, including 24% that indicated they have affected their own workplace relationships in a bad way. The worst experiences are those between people of different status: bosses and their employees sharing a mutual dislike of being connected on social networking sites.

On the other hand, professional sites such as Linkedln, arouse less discontent. Only 35% of respondents were uncomfortable with being connected to their boss on these sites compared to 36% of bosses who were uncomfortable with linking up with their staff.

So, although Facebook, LinkedIn and others provide “great networking tools that connect people”, they can “also create tension between employees and managers in the workplace”, warned Morris. “In today’s digital age, it’s important to manage your online reputation and be aware of the image you project. You never know who might be reviewing your profile.”

Meanwhile, this reporter thinks it's about time he actually joined a social networking site.

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