ExpatFinder APAC Job Opportunities Report 2017

Whether you’re a seasoned specialist looking to relocate or a young professional who wants to get experience overseas, the primary issue will always be finding work to support your move. If you’re working for a company which is looking to relocate some staff, excellent; for the rest of us, however, finding a job will always be the deciding factor on if and when the relocation happens.

Last year, ExpatFinder reported on the state of the job markets in five major cities across Asia, helping expats across the world assess the opportunities in the region. This time, we expand our search from Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Mumbai to include Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Sydney. This year’s Job Opportunities Report provides an even greater insight into which industries and position levels in demand across the continent. Read through as we break down our findings for the region, or skip to the end for the full infographic.

“This year’s survey of job opportunities across the region has once again shown that there is much room for optimism for those seeking jobs across APAC. The clearest point of difference between last year has been the reduction in the numbers of both top and bottom levels jobs across all industries. It appears that businesses across the board are currently looking for experienced and reliable mid-career workers as opposed to entry-level talent and senior management. It will be interesting to see how long this trend continues for.”

Sebastien Deschamps – CEO and Founder of ExpatFinder.com

Worldwide Summary

This years’ report has seen Human Resources drop out of the top five most in-demand industries across APAC, to be replaced by the Communications sector. The other industries in the top five, Consultancy & Management, Sales & Marketing, Finance, and Technology have all remained thanks to the constant need for skilled professionals across the region. While many of the cities have similar numbers of vacancies for most of the top five industries, those in the Finance sector should look towards Beijing and Seoul, as there are major talent shortages in these cities. The Technology sector saw the steepest decline, with many cities seeing opportunities falling by 5% to 10%. Technology vacancies in Mumbai decreased from 32.6% of available jobs last year, to 9.2%.

The least in-demand jobs we found across APAC were those in the Food Processing/Factory, Agriculture and Aviation industries. This is likely due to jobs in the latter industry being advertised on specialist sites, whereas the other and primarily recruited for in a local or word-of-mouth fashion.

Looking at global job vacancies between East and West we can see the relative difference in the numbers of advertised jobs found for each city. Some Asian cities had relatively few advertised positions, especially when compared to London. This may, however, be due to the majority of jobs in a city such as Tokyo being exclusively for speakers of the local language, and therefore are not advertised on the global job sites frequented by English speakers.

When comparing the number of vacancies in the top three industries – Consultancy & Management, Sales & Marketing, and Finance – there are significant differences between East and West. Whereas the West has a slightly higher demand for Consultancy & Management professionals (43.7% of vacancies, compared to 36.0%), the East is much more in need of those with experience in Finance (21.5% of jobs, compared to 6.3%).

One particularly fascinating insight from this years’ investigation is that there has been a considerable drop in the number of Entry-Level and Top-Level positions available in all the cities across Asia, except in Mumbai. Mumbai is currently desperate for more senior workers, especially in the Finance and Sales & Marketing industries.


In Sydney, three industries currently dominate the hiring sector, Sales & Marketing, Consultancy & Management, and Communication, all of which account for over 17% of the available jobs. Of the Sales & Marketing jobs (21.4% of vacancies), 98.3% were for Middle-Level professionals, with just 0.3% for Entry-Level employees, and 1.4% for Top-Level positions. The least desired professions are those in Food Processing/Factory positions, making up only 0.02% of jobs on offer.


“…we are seeing high demand for experienced revenue generating staff. Business Development Managers, Sales Representatives and Regional Sales Managers are sought to grow market share and increase revenue. The Marketing and Communications area is very active in Sydney and based on our conversations with employers it will remain buoyant in the months ahead. Digital content is a huge focus for employers and this has created demand for content creators, digital communication and digital marketing professionals.


“Consultancy & Management is definitely showing more job opportunities. In fact, the wider professional and business services space is seeing high demand but a short supply of suitable candidates. I’d also say that IT, including digital technology, is another industry to watch. We’re seeing a very active market, with demand increasing for those professionals who are already in short supply, particularly those on the cutting edge. Those who can demonstrate agility and flexibility are prized assets, as are commercially-minded technology professionals.”

Jane McNeill – Managing Director of Hays in New South Wales & Western Australia


Like many Asian cities Beijing is actually becoming more prominent in Asia’s financial landscape, and it shows in this years’ survey. 26.1% of the job openings found were in Finance, 15.0% higher than the next industry, Sales & Marketing. The majority of the vacancies in Finance are for Middle-Level workers (95.4%), with Top-Level positions accounting for 4.1%. In the Chinese capital jobs in Agriculture and Aviation are few and far between, with both accounting for 0.07% of vacancies.


In Shanghai, the number of positions available in the Finance sector is considerably less (5.3% of vacancies). Instead, Consultancy & Management and Communication are the most in demand, making up 22.3% and 20.5% of available positions, respectively. The Consultancy & Management sector in Shanghai is primarily searching for Middle-Level candidates (89.5% of jobs), with both Entry and Top-Level positions accounting for 5.1%. Shanghai has no shortage of those working in Food Processing/Factory jobs, with vacancies in this sector accounting for only 0.02% of jobs advertised.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong may be a financial hub, but the current demands are in the Consultancy & Management, Sales & Marketing, and Communication sectors, which combine to account for 54.5% of vacancies in the country. There has been a considerable increase for Consultancy & Management, which did not appear significant last year. Conversely, the relative number of finance jobs available has dropped considerably, perhaps due to the recent explosion in the industry. Of the vacancies in the newly in-demand Consultancy & Management sector, just 0.7% of positions are for Entry and Top-Level staff, as companies look to swell their ranks with experienced professionals.

“Hong Kong’s economy has a positive, but qualified outlook for growth that is benefiting from the ever-growing influx of Chinese capital into the territory and in time, its recent membership to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). However, the pace of change in Hong Kong’s financial services sector is increasing and along with the emergence of new business models such as Hong Kong banks and other financial institutions entering into partnerships with FinTech businesses, this is putting an enormous strain on the pool of available talent. The upside is that financial institutions will be able to achieve their goals without major capital expenditure that will also help to cement Hong Kong’s profile as one of the world’s top digital technology hubs.


“Hong Kong remains one of the globe’s great banking capitals with some 70 of the world’s top 100 banks represented in the territory, but the industry is feeling the pressure to retain that position in the face of change on multiple fronts. Digital marketing and cyber security still remain as the two hot areas where candidates with the relevant skill sets are in constant high demand.”

Dean Stallard – Managing Director of Hays Hong Kong


The past year has seen a significant increase in the number of vacancies in the Consultancy & Management sector in Mumbai to take the relative amount of available positions from 5.5% to 21.1% in less than 12 months. Sales & Marketing and Communications professionals are also in high-demand, which account for 16.9% and 14.4% of vacancies, respectively. Mid-level opportunities account for 95.1% of advertised jobs, with just 3.3% searching for top level talent. Public Affairs professionals are the least in demand in Mumbai, accounting for only 0.03% of positions.

“Professional services as a whole are growing at a fast pace. The Big 4 continue to ramp up their teams both in Advisory and Assurance practices. The next tier firms are also building their capabilities in areas such as digital and transactions. Strategy consulting firms, especially transformation and turnaround, are also witnessing a lot of activity with hires at both senior leadership and mid management levels. The other leadership functions that have seen plenty of action have been Finance and Digital. Mumbai is a little unique, being the capital of Corporate India. The headquarters of several of the Fortune 500 being in Mumbai, we see more activity at the leadership levels compared to other Metro cities.


“I believe the roles that will be in [most] demand over the next 12 months could be for Strategy and Finance. We should also be seeing more changes being made at the company leadership level; the growth agenda will gain prominence for the coming year and that may involve making some key changes.”

Suresh Raina – Managing Partner at Hunt Partners Mumbai


This year, Consultancy & Management professionals are the most in-demand in Tokyo, with 20.2% of vacancies currently being in this sector, up from 8.3% last year. Significant growth also happened in the Sales & Marketing, and Communications sectors, with the latter growing from 2.9% of opportunities in 2016 to 16.9% in 2017. Interestingly, in Tokyo, 100% of the jobs advertisements for Consultancy & Marketing professionals were for mid-level positions, with no interest in low or high-level workers found. Those looking for Food Processing/Factory positions should avoid the world’s largest city, as there are currently no opportunities.

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur’s job market is currently dominated by Sales & Marketing positions, which account for 19.9% of the available jobs. This is a slight rise from last year’s report when the figure was at 19.1%. Demand for those in Finance has dropped considerably, from 14.8% last year, to 7.4%. The need for Entry and Top-Level workers is higher in Kuala Lumpur than some other cities, as they make up 5.2% of the advertised Sales & Marketing jobs. Positions in Aviation and Agriculture make up just 0.07% and 0.04% of vacancies, respectively.


Last year, Human Resources professionals were the most in-demand in Singapore, as jobs in this industry accounted for 14.0% of advertisements; however, this year the figure has dropped to 2.8%. Conversely, the demand for Consultancy & Management workers has grown, from 10.3% to 22.1%, meaning that this is now the industry with the most vacancies in Singapore. 99.9% of job opportunities in the Consultancy & Management field are for Middle-Level professionals with the remaining 0.1% advertised for Top-Level specialists. Unsurprisingly for a country which imports nearly everything, Food Process/Factory workers are the least in demand, making up just 0.01% of jobs.

“To start with the Consultancy – we are seeing growth in demand, especially from the IT sector. Management roles are coming mostly from middle management positions to build stronger succession planning pipelines internally. Sales roles are always the top priority for clients. We see a trend of more start-ups entering the Singapore market and they start their operations from sales people first. The biggest focus within sales roles is hunters and active sales, rather than Business Development or Key Account Management. Last but not least, we see huge demand coming from FinTech and Insurance Tech start-ups. They are the only two sectors where clients are open to considering C-level candidates from established companies, to bring their knowledge of business structure and strategy.


“Needs within the HR space have shifted to the specialist level instead of Head of HR / HRDs. We see a lot of internal transfers from other locations as well. However, the first half of 2017 was actually very successful for the HR practice within Hudson Singapore, as we focused on start-ups who are placing Heads of HR to start that function from scratch. We think the main reason [that the number of jobs available for low and top-level talents is reducing] is the outsourcing and offshoring of roles to cheaper locations across South-East Asia.”

Alena Salakhova – Regional Director for Hudson Singapore


Seoul is another city on the hunt for Finance professionals, which account for 21.3% of the opportunities found. Other industries such as Consultancy & Management, Sales & Marketing and Communication are also in demand, accounting for 15.0%, 13.7% and 10.3% of vacancies, respectively. As with all of the other cities in this report, the industry with the most demand is primarily looking for Middle-Level workers (98.0% of availabilities), as opposed to entry and Top-Level professionals. As with Tokyo, there are no job opportunities for Food Processing/Factory workers, and very little for those in Public Affairs, Health & Beauty, and Aviation.

All data was collected between 11/09/2017 and 14/09/2017.