COVID-19 has driven demand for digital and technology talent globally in 2020, beginning with candidates that could enable remote working, such as professionals with IT infrastructure and cloud-based skills, and moving into demand for data and cybersecurity skillsets.

Similar movement has been noted in Malaysia, where digital transformation has become a priority for many organisations across industries. Alongside demand for cloud professionals and dev-ops as more companies move to rapidly develop new applications and software, there has also been an increased focus on digitalising processes, including digital marketing. With technology talent currently in severe shortage, organisations in Malaysia must refine their attraction strategies now more than ever if they are to hire top tech talent in this competitive market.

James Milligan, Global Head of Technology for Hays, commented on this by saying, “Organisations need to understand what their value proposition is. It is key that they are transparent and can clearly articulate what they want. They also need to make the process easy and as quick as possible, and ensure they haven’t created barriers in there, because that quite often leads to candidates, particularly those with technical skills, dropping out.”

Writing for the latest issue of the Hays Journal, he outlines five key areas that organisations should consider when recruiting technology talent:

  1. Planning further into the future is key

“After the first months, where companies were playing catch-up, businesses were starting to look ahead. They understand that COVID-19 is going to be here for some time and, rather than just reacting to the immediate crisis, organisations have started planning for the future,” says James.

“Lots of companies, from large enterprises to public sector organisations, had digital transformation programmes in place, but they needed to identify new priorities based on the new needs of employees and customers. Many found they had room for improvement when it came to the tools they used to engage people. There was also a need to improve virtual shop windows, websites, and anything else businesses had to facilitate their direct relationship with the customer, which will have replaced or augmented traditional human interaction.”

“We found these forward-looking businesses were coming to us with a planned approach. They had identified their programme of work and the types of people they would need to enable change and transformation. Most organisations now work in an agile or a semi-agile way, so they are looking for skills that can enable the change, but also software developers that can build and develop the applications that they require.”

  1. Recruitment processes need to keep evolving

“To be successful in their hiring in this highly competitive market, businesses have had to evolve their processes quickly. Most companies had some sort of video platform, but adoption was poor, generally speaking. COVID-19 made it a necessity because everyone was working remotely, so you had that accelerated transformation, which increased adoption very quickly,” says James.

“The next challenge was around onboarding. Many companies don’t have a cohesive remote onboarding process where they can bring somebody into a business in a non-physical way. Luckily, technology companies, or technology departments, move in quite an agile way, they are almost always the early adopters of these changes. They’re familiar with the technology and they’re advocates of it. On the whole, though, COVID-19 has accelerated cultural change in non-native digital organisations.”

  1. It’s worth searching outside of your usual talent pools

“Organisations have become much more flexible in the geographies they will hire from. We have helped a company recently that was willing to look for candidates within three time zones. They are tapping into a much broader pool of talent. We’re starting to see this trend more frequently,” says James.

“What remains to be seen is what will happen over the next six to 18 months, and whether this has become the norm or if these placements are outliers within the market. My instincts tell me that, in tech, we’re going to see an awful lot more talent placed that is not linked to the geography of the office that they’re ‘based in’.”

  1. There has been a cultural shift around technology adoption

“A lot of the time, when technology workers try to launch new systems in organisations, the process change is difficult, and people won’t take it on quickly. People have been forced to adopt new technology rapidly and that has changed a lot of people’s view of it forever. The pandemic has been the biggest change that’s happened in the business world in our lifetimes, and collectively we’ve demonstrated that in a matter of weeks, most organisations have been able to pivot from working in an office to a fully remote working environment. Behaviourally, users have demonstrated they are able to make this rapid change, so psychologically they will be more open to new systems in the future,” says James.

  1. Organisations will need to take time to reflect

“Organisations have moved quickly and will want to go back and revisit what they did earlier in 2020 to make sure it’s robust. They are looking at a new hybrid world where employees work both from home and in the office. Strategically, they must make sure that they are in a position where they can continue to operate and thrive,” says James.

“This move to hybrid working is likely to mean an acceleration in digital transformation and that means that technology professionals with legacy skillsets will need to retrain to make sure that they have the skills required in this new world.”

“Finally, all organisations need to consider what this means for new entrants to the workforce. A large part of learning how to be effective in the world of work comes from observation, being mentored and getting real-time feedback. Organisations that have shifted to a remote model will need to consider how to manage this,” James concludes.

Adding to this in the Asian context, Edmond Pang, Regional Director, Shanghai & Suzhou, Hays China said, “Our annual salary guide survey shows that career progression is the number one factor for technology candidates seeking new opportunities. Having a vision and being able to articulate how a candidate’s role contributes to the bigger picture is important to share with them during interviews.”

The original article was published in the new Hays Journal 19 alongside other global insights and news for HR, recruitment professionals and hiring managers on the ever-changing world of work.




About Hays Malaysia

Agensi Pekerjaan Hays (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd ("Hays Malaysia") is one of the leading specialist recruitment companies in Malaysia in recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of industries and professions. We provide mid to senior level recruitment services across both finance and commerce industries. We have become known as the experts in sourcing regional and global candidates, as well as returning Malaysians.

Hays has been in Malaysia since 2012 and boasts a track record of success and growth, with two operating offices located in KLCC and Sunway. At Hays in Malaysia, we operate across the private and public sector, dealing in permanent positions in the following specialisms: Accountancy & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Construction, Digital Technology, Engineering, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Information Technology, Insurance, Legal, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Marketing & Digital, Procurement, Supply Chain and Sales.

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2020 the Group employed c.10,400 staff operating from 266 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2020:

  • the Group reported net fees of £996.2 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £135.0 million;
  • the Group placed around 66,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 235,000 people into temporary roles;
  • 17% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 23% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 34% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • the temporary placement business represented 59% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 41% of net fees;
  • IT is the Group’s largest specialism, with 25% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (15%) and Construction & Property (12%), are the next largest 
Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA