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Perfect fit in a niche market

Published on Friday, 07 Oct 2011
Elaine Khoo
Director of recruitment services
TalentSEARCH Asia
Photo: Herbert Tsang

A new recruiter specialising in sales and marketing and recruiting candidates for a number of industry sectors has entered the fray. Elaine Khoo, the director of recruitment services for TalentSEARCH Asia, talks to Andrea Zavadszky.

What was the idea behind setting up this company?

TalentSEARCH was set up to locate high-calibre candidates for multinational companies wanting to launch or expand in markets throughout Asia Pacific. 

What are you specialising in?

We specialise in recruiting for sales and marketing positions in banking and finance, legal, the media and fast moving consumer goods.  

Why did you choose to such a specific specialise in such a well-defined and narrow field?

My background is in sales and marketing recruitment and the consultants we hired also share this background. This is very important because, when you recruit a sales person for a company, it is more about the clients trusting me, trusting that I know the candidate and can find the right fit. 

Did you see a niche in the market?

I see now as a unique time for job seekers in Asia. As the global economy continues to face challenges, many companies across various industries are looking to allocate more resources in Asia, including China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and Vietnam.

This trend is consistent across industries, including financial services, consumer and luxury products, industrial and manufacturing production, and so on.

As more and more regional headquarters are being set up in this part of the world, job seekers can expect to see an increase in vacancies, especially across functions such as sales and marketing. Our strategy is to assist corporations with their talent acquisition process by providing local market expertise.   

How will you differentiate yourself from your competitors?

For the time being, by remaining in this narrow niche market. Another point of differentiation is that we don’t simply advertise on behalf of the client – this is something they can do by themselves. We add value by getting to know our candidates and their future plans – to achieve a perfect fit. 

How do you see the employment outlook for this year and early next year?

We did a lot of research before we started the business. As is seasonally typical across most sectors, recruitment in Q4 will experience a slowdown. This seasonal slowdown is typical in banking and finance and in other sectors in general. A lot of people will wait for their bonuses before moving on. Come January, in most companies, there will probably be more newly created roles, and there will definitely be candidates seeking new opportunities. 

Why did you start the company now?

Our approach is very different from our competitors. In this quarter, we want to get to know our candidates. We meet them even if they do not want to leave right away, to understand their long-term objectives and what they want to do. We go out networking and meeting candidates. We will start matching them, in earnest, to jobs next year. 

What do you see as your future challenges?

The number one challenge will be changing employers’ mindsets. Employers often give very specific parameters and only want to hire people from exactly the same industry and background they require. However, it is often not possible to find someone with the exact same experience and qualifications. If someone is a good sales person, they can sell and cross over to other industries. They should be given a chance. Another challenge will be the competition. If we are successful, people will follow. 

Do you have any expansion plans?

Presently, we are a specialised boutique recruitment company. If things go well, we may open an office in Singapore in March next year. We are already doing a little some cross-over business. In addition, when we feel we are on solid ground with sales and marketing, we will hire people to set up their own divisions in other fields.

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