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Malaysia to see strong demand for professionals with tech, analytics, ESG skills in 2022

Being in the second year of the pandemic, many businesses in Malaysia realised the Covid-19 pandemic was going to be the norm, and have since adapted to it. Kimberlyn Lu, CEO of Robert Walters South East Asia, shares, “The move towards normalisation has led to a strong rebound of hiring activity in Malaysia. This was seen across all sectors, from financial services and consumer segments to healthcare and manufacturing, where hiring placed on hold the previous year resumed in 2021.”

Read on as Kim shares her expectations about Malaysia’s labour market in 2022.

Tech and transformation, data analytics, ESG to shine in 2022

According to Kim, we will see three key hiring trends in Malaysia in 2022. “First, as more and more companies are going into automation and implementing digital initiatives, we can expect a lot of hiring activity around technology and transformation. Any hiring around tech-focused positions, be it for AI, e-commerce, or digital marketing, will be sustained,” Kim says.

“Additionally, we have seen tremendous demand in analytics. This cuts across all functions, in HR, risk, or finance. In a world where there is a lot of information, companies will be looking to hire professionals who know how to study, digest and interpret data to make sound business decisions,” she adds.

“We will also continue to see the rise of Environmental, Social and Governance. In 2021, we saw an increase in companies looking at ESG practices and how they can be more sustainable and socially responsible to their communities. Many companies are already in the process of incorporating ESG into their businesses. So as the government continues to drive the need for sustainability, we anticipate more hiring around ESG, and this will be prevalent across financial services, commerce, and manufacturing,” Kim reveals.

AI, e-commerce, digital transformation among key skills

In terms of skill sets in demand, Kim highlights, “We expect to see tech roles in AI, e-commerce, and digital transformation to be in highest demand. Similarly, data analytics will be an important skillset for professionals across all sectors and functions, while experience in ESG and sustainability initiatives will be highly sought after.”

“Specific to financial services, we expect there will be high demand for relationship managers skilled in managing the high-net-worth segment.”

Advice on recruiting and retaining employees

In a climate where there is a high demand for talent, hiring managers will need to make prompt decisions to recruit candidates in 2022. Kim elaborates, “Companies will have to accept that remote interviewing will be part and parcel of life and can no longer rely on traditional recruitment and business processes. Many candidates are now receiving multiple counteroffers from companies and hiring managers will need to take that into account and consider offering competitive salaries to stay ahead.”

“Potential candidates are now looking beyond performance bonuses and prioritising salaries with fixed components as well as flexibility in work arrangements. According to a survey we conducted, at least 44% of candidates will decline an offer if there is no flexibility offered,” she observes.

According to a survey we conducted, at least 44% of candidates will decline an offer if there is no flexibility offered.


Kim also notes, “Throughout an employee’s time in an organisation, it is important to have open and transparent discussions about career progression and to document them where necessary. We also encourage companies to take a more proactive stance and not wait for employees to resign before making counteroffers to retain them.”

Higher salary increments for job movers in in-demand roles

Kim concludes, “We expect there will be general annual salary reviews across organisations in 2022. For employees staying in their current organisations, they can expect rises of 3 to 5%. Job movers can expect 15 to 20% increases, though certain in-demand positions where candidates have multiple offers can garner increases of up to 30%.”

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Request access to our Salary Survey to benchmark salaries and find out the latest hiring and talent trends in Malaysia’s job market.

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