Competency-based interviews and the fight for top tech talent: This is how Malaysia’s job market will change in 2019, according to Randstad

Competency-based interviews have gained popularity in Malaysia as companies are looking for candidates who possess “high levels of empathy and strong people management and leadership skills”, Randstad said.
Berita Harian

As more firms in Malaysia start their digitalisation journey, the in-demand skills that employers are looking for will differ greatly from what the current workforce is equipped with currently, the country manager of Randstad in Malaysia has said.

In a report published by the multinational human resources consulting firm on Thursday (Jan 17), Ryan Carroll said that in the face of slower economic growth, companies in Malaysia will take the opportunity to focus on narrowing this skills gap.

According to him, the only way to do so is to “provide robust and thorough learning and development programmes to the local workforce in the form of mentorship programmes, on-the-job training and internal mobility opportunities”.

He also suggests that employers leverage Malaysians’ high commitment to learning by providing specialised training programmes for employees and upskill them as quickly as possible.

And while Malaysians have in the past ranked salary and benefits as the most important factors in choosing an employer, Carroll says positive employee experiences such as work-life initiatives are equally critical.

“While salary and benefits remain an important factor for Malaysian employees, a positive employee experience is the key reason why people want to keep working for you,” he said.

Candidate requirements are changing

When it comes to the hiring process, competency-based interviews have gained popularity in Malaysia as companies are looking for candidates who possess “high levels of empathy and strong people management and leadership skills”.

“Instead of putting candidates through a technical test, interviewers are spending more time asking job seekers how they have managed a difficult situation at work and what they have learned from such experiences,” Carroll said in the report.

“As technology evolves to be more innovative and interactive, there are some mental skills that will become less valuable, such as having a good memory or recording a mass volume of information and regurgitating it back on reports. This means that employees will need to focus more on added-value activities that machines cannot do,” he added.

According to him, in-demand candidates are also those who are “critical thinkers, creative and innovative in the way they work, and able to have open conversations with others”.

Foreign investment will also provide opportunities for overseas Malaysians to return home to work, and Randstad expects a “high demand for returning Malaysians”.


Tech opportunities and salaries are rising

For the tech industry in Malaysia, there will be a lot more opportunities within the application development space as companies are aggressively expanding their team to develop or improve products in 2019, the report said.

Some of the job types that will see increased demand include Java developers and professionals efficient in popular programming languages such as Ruby on Rails, Python and Golang .

According to Carroll, recruitment of high-performing and innovative technology talent will continue to be a challenge for Malaysian hirers this year.

“Hyper-growth segments such as fintech startups and technology firms that are powered by blockchain are likely to see higher levels of hiring as they compete for the best tech talent in the candidate-short market,” he said.

As large companies are usually unable to meet the rising salary expectations of experienced professionals fast enough, technology professionals tend to look for opportunities in startups or SMEs that are willing to invest in good talent, especially after they have gained some work experience with a global company, the report added.

Specialised technology professionals can command a monthly salary of up to 25,000 ringgit (US$6,000) in Malaysia, Randstad said. This is much higher than the typical 3,000 ringgit fresh graduate pay.

Tech professionals in Malaysia have also seen significant salary increases in recent years. A few years ago, a “generous” package for a senior developer would include a monthly salary of 10,000 ringgit. But many senior developers now take home 70 per cent more at around 17,000 ringgit, reported Randstad.

Workers in this industry will need to continually look for ways to develop their knowledge and expertise so that they can close the skills gap and meet the demand for specialist talent quickly, they added.