Frontline Intelligence: HR Recruitment - Around the world in 80 seconds!

by External14 Feb 2013

With many businesses now operating with global mindsets, Lisa Robson takes a look at what's happening in the HR profession, both locally and abroad.

Businesses are increasingly being run along global lines. To maximise current and future career objectives, it is important for HR practitioners at all levels to be aware of what is playing out in both their local market but also abroad.

This month we take a look at some of the market trends for the HR profession in some offshore regions.

The numbers

A comparison of the make-up of the HR profession in Asia, UK/Europe and Australia/ New Zealand was just one of the many areas examined by the recently published 2012 Global HR Viewpoint Survey (Viewpoint) conducted by The Next Step and its offshore partners in Asia and Europe.

The Viewpoint report was based on the responses of almost 3,000 HR practitioners globally, and the results in the survey showed that the profession in:


  • Aus/NZ is the least gender diverse with 70.4% being female, compared with 63.5% in Asia and 61.9% in the UK/Europe.
  • Asia is the most highly qualified with 95.4% having a tertiary qualification, compared with 87.4% in Aus/NZ and 84.6% in the UK/Europe.
  • The UK/Europe achieves the most work/ life balance with 39.1% working less than 40 hours per work, compared with 25.7% in Aus/NZ and only 13.2% in Asia.
  • Asia is more likely to earn an STI with only 11.2% earning no bonus, compared with 31.6% in Aus/NZ and 37.9% in UK/Europe.


Some regional trends

Within the Australian market, we are seeing the different states performing at different levels of activity.

This may be in part due to different industries within each state dominating activity such as the Resources orientation of Brisbane. In the UK, the most buoyant sectors for HR opportunities seem to be in Insurance, IT and, more recently, New Media.

This is similar to Asia where IT and New Media industries seem to be driving growth alongside traditional sectors. For instance, in Hong Kong, the financial services sector accounts for approximately two-thirds of the HR market, whereas in Singapore it is more balanced with commerce being represented in areas such as FMCG/Pharmaceutical.

Influencing factors

The HR profession globally is citing risk-adverse and protracted recruitment processes. Employers are favouring ‘like for like’ hires and it is not uncommon for them to expect their entire candidate ‘wish list’ to be met.

A weak and uncertain international environment continues to pose downside risks to each domestic story. Each region is also indicating varying external influencing factors. The Australian market is feeling the pressure of the high Australian dollar and the slowdown of the manufacturing/ resources sector. China is on a more sustainable growth path and this will continue to favourably impact the volume and scope of HR opportunities for locally-based HR professionals.

Europe is being closely watched given the sheer magnitude and complexity of the problems. The UK market did, however, notice a positive upswing in activity during the Olympic Games period.


Using a flexible workforce to deliver business-critical projects and backfill lean HR teams has meant the contract market in Australia is the most buoyant.

Approximately 54% of HR opportunities are currently being offered on a contract basis compared with 46% on a permanent basis. Not surprisingly, the early and intermediate HR career markets are witnessing more activity than the senior market.

Interestingly, on the flip side the UK is reporting more movement in the senior HR market than any other level and there is a weighting towards permanent opportunities at 58%. Whilst they are reporting a recent market increase, this region continues to be one of the softest.

Asia is witnessing a buoyant early HR career marker with the quest for salary increases driving this. Emerging HR professionals are gaining up to 20% more each time they move.

Prospective employers are preferring to source talent from within their home markets rather than from abroad, resulting in increased difficulty for HR professionals in Aus/NZ and the UK/Europe to obtain work in Asia. The exception has been within the areas of Talent and L&OD. The current local skills gap and the push towards increasing capability in these areas provides potential expat opportunities.

Final note

Whilst there are many consistencies in the HR profession globally, there are also evident differences in the composition and trends of each respective region. As we continue to operate within an increasingly global business context, the necessity to have an awareness and understanding of the professional field of endeavour beyond our local border increases.


About the author

Lisa Robson is a Consultant within the Next Gen division of The Next Step, a specialist consulting practice in the human resources market. For more information call (02) 8256 2500 or email Website: