According to recruitment firm Robert Walters, over the past six months, within the banking and finance sector, support services including legal, information technology, marketing and communications have experienced a downturn on the permanent hiring side in favour of an upturn in contract recruitment, or temporary hires, also known as temps.
"There is still a need for non-core financial roles, but banks are less willing to commit to long-term head count," says John Mullally, Robert Walters banking manager for alternative finance. "In the current environment, with less banking and finance jobs coming on to the market, job seekers will find it is more difficult to pick and choose jobs as readily as they did previously. Contract work is something that job candidates should keep in mind when they are talking to recruiters or looking for employment opportunities within the market," says Mullally.
He adds that the concept of hiring contract workers is another indicator that Hong Kong banks are closely reviewing their hiring policies regarding jobs not directly linked to revenue-creation roles. While contract hiring is widely utilised in major finance centres such as London, New York and Sydney, Mullally says the concept is still fairly new in Hong Kong.
"There is sometimes a perception that a contract worker is not quite good enough to be offered a permanent position. But line managers are realising that by hiring professionals on a contract basis, they are able to complete projects within a budget that may not be available to recruit a permanent member of staff," says Mullally.
He adds that contract work provides employees and employers with flexibility. For example, for people with IT, legal and marketing skills, the attraction of contract work could fit in with other lifestyle pursuits. "For those with the right mindset, contract work can appeal to their mercenary instincts where they become a sort of `gun for hire' professional who seeks out different opportunities," says Mullally.
For employers, Mullally says the attraction of hiring contract workers means there are fewer obligations compared with long-term employ