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Is the sky falling on the job street?

Zafar Anjum | Feb. 13, 2009
In the current market, any IT role related to revenue generation will be a priority whereas IT roles classified as cost headcount will be scrutinised, says Yeo Gek Cheng, director, IT&T, Hudson Singapore in an exclusive interview.

Are salaries being frozen, bonuses shrinking?

According to the Q1 Report, respondents in the IT&T sector expect to have to increase new staff salaries the most, with 41 per cent saying they will pay 11-20 per cent more and a further 5 per cent forecasting increases of over 20 per cent.  Currently, what we are seeing is salary freeze and bonuses that are modest compared to last year. IT sales targets have been adjusted to reflect a slowing market and IT cost headcount are recruited at a much slower pace and with shrinking budgets.

Do you see a headcount freeze in the industry?

According to the Q1 Hudson Report across all sectors, implementing a headcount freeze is the strategy most likely to be adopted, being mentioned by 31 per cent of respondents. This is the most popular strategy in all the markets surveyed in Asia. Strategic hiring of newly available talent is also seen as valuable, with 21 per cent mentioning this approach. The report indicates that seeking global approval for new headcount is required for the IT&T sector, as mentioned by 30 per cent of respondents.   

How does the situation compare with that of places such as Hong Kong?

The trends are similar in Hong Kong, except perhaps the city has suffered a larger impact because of its larger dependence on investment banking. The doom and gloom factor played up by people seems to be happening in a greater scale in Hong Kong than in Singapore. Part of this could be attributed to the media coverage seen in the newspapers and TV and an overall attitude of 'the sky is falling'.

What does this mean for IT&T job seekers?

This market will help reset the market to a more reasonable level. Too much money has been thrown on the table during good times where competition is stiff for talent which in turn increases the costs of headcount tremendously and makes Singapore an increasingly less attractive market to inject headcount into. With some rectification as a result of this market, we will be competitive again and more headcount investments will in turn flow back in instead of being lost to other ASEAN countries.

The IT industry will continue to see many acquisitions and mergers. What this means from a candidate point of view is that the mainstream list of companies to work with becomes very limited. Every career move needs to be assessed carefully, or else you will find yourself working in the company you left not long ago. There is, however, only so much an individual can assess and it is key that every career departure is handled well.

IT professionals should focus on building skills and experience as well as keeping industry network and contacts current and let the market ride out this particular down phase.


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