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Switching hour looms for upbeat professionals

Published on Friday, 10 Jun 2011

With the economy back in step, Hong Kong professionals seem ever more confident about their future employment prospects.

In a recent survey of 1,300 professionals by Michael Page, 38 per cent said they were "very likely" to change jobs over the next six months, while 32 per cent chose "quite likely".

Michael Page Hong Kong managing director Anthony Thompson says the impetus to switch is largely opportunity-driven. "The sheer volume of active roles is staggering" he says. "As such, it's more a case of candidates seeing opportunities, rather than being disappointed with where they are."

Nevertheless, he adds, "many of those who plan on switching worked through difficult times in 2008 and 2009."

This was particularly the case for those working in marketing and frontline banking - the areas likely to have the highest turnover rates, according to the report.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, accounting roles are tipped to have the lowest turnover, a forecast attributed to the industry's inherent compensation structure.

"It's not a field that's heavily based on variable incentives such as bonuses," Thompson says. "To that extent, the remuneration is more predictable relative to sales-oriented positions, for example. And in many cases, that's why we're seeing people in front-office banking roles or marketing positions look for greater upside in what they earn."

Among the sought-after job factors highlighted by the respondents, "scope for career progression" was by far the most dominant, with 42 per cent citing it as a primary motivator. "Salary increment" came in a surprisingly distant second at 24 per cent.

The discrepancy is in sharp contrast with an item in the latter part of the study, where 46 per cent selected "salary vs living costs" as their main concern in the coming six months.

Thompson attributes the variance to a shift in professional mind-sets following the recent financial meltdown.

"What we're seeing is that candidates are far more discerning than they were pre-crisis," he says. "They want to make sure that there's a long-term future with an organisation before making a move. As such, we're seeing far fewer professionals willing to join another company simply for a salary increase."

Thompson expects the market to remain active till the end of the year, then most candidates will likely stay put to cash in on bonuses. 

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