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Disillusioned Asian job seekers “left in limbo” as banks take 50% longer to hire

Hiring times banks Asia

The time it takes from getting a first interview at a bank to landing a job offer is getting longer in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Recruitment times have increased by up to 50% compared to 12 months ago, when the job market was in better shape, says Jay Abeyasinghe, an associate director of financial services at recruiters Morgan McKinley in Singapore. The typical four-to-six-week hiring process has now increased to between six and nine weeks at cost-conscious global banks in Asia, say recruiters.

“The delays are driven by banks having so many candidates to choose from,” says Abeyasinghe. “On average, about three times as many people are applying for roles than in a normal market and there’s at least double the amount going through interviews.”

“More internal approvals for additional headcount, more comprehensive reference checking, and an increased preference for hiring less costly internal candidates are also causing hiring times to get longer this year,” says Lim Chaileng, director of banking, finance and accounting at recruiters Randstad in Singapore.

US and Europe-based global heads of departments are increasingly now interviewing shortlisted candidates in Asia at most seniority levels, says Jack Leung, senior manager of recruitment agency Hays in Hong Kong. “In previous years an interview with a regional head would have been enough.”

“Hiring decisions are increasingly pushed down the track, so both candidates and managers are left in limbo,” says Nick Lambe, group managing director at recruitment firm Links International in Hong Kong. “Some job seekers are happy to wait, but I’ve seen others go cool on potential positions or join banks who moved quicker.”

The number of banking professionals withdrawing from the hiring process because of delays has been rising in recent months, agrees Lim from Randstad.

“Almost every kind of job in banking is impacted by this at the moment,” says Abeyasinghe from Morgan McKinley. “Candidates can get disillusioned and withdraw from the process because they feel the bank isn’t serious about hiring them.”

“A lot of banks don’t think through the consequences of hiring too slowly,” adds Abeyasinghe. “They could suffer reputational damage in the job market if they simply keep churning through candidates without being decisive. When the market turns, banking professionals remember this kind of thing.”

In Hong Kong, Chinese banks are already benefiting from the hiring slowdown at the global players.

Bulge brackets are now typically demanding eight to 12 rounds of interviews, while Chinese banks only require six or seven, says Sibal from Hudson. “This can result in candidates pulling out half-way through at a global bank and accepting a Chinese role, often with a higher job title.”


Image credit: ismagilov, Getty

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