The accelerating change in the work landscape also sees new mindsets of jobseekers. When once it was thought that an employee should stay with an organisation for a few years at a time to be taken seriously, candidates are now moving between roles at a much quicker pace.

It’s not all negative – some candidates are working to build broader skillsets or are simply keeping up with the rapid change and future-proofing their careers. Which industries in Singapore have seen more of this behaviour, what drives it, and how can both candidates and employers navigate this new trend effectively?

Our experts weighed in on the matter and were featured in The Straits Times for their comments.

Read: Singapore Employers’ Attitudes to Job Hoppers Changing Amid Rising Trend

Read: 5 tips for job hoppers to fend off scepticism from employers, colleagues

Jobseeker movement & impacted sectors

Jobseeker movement has been highly dependent on the state of the pandemic, skillsets and on the dynamism of an industry. Some industries that saw high movement include the legal and tech sectors. In tech, hiring activity was particularly high for roles such as technology engineering, software engineers and DevOps.

Linus Choo, Executive Director of Legal, Risk and Compliance of Ethos BeathChapman (EBC) shares “as highly specialised legal talent in the professional services (legal private practice), tech, financial services (banking and fintech) space are always in demand, movement is high with talent commanding better roles and pay packages; it is not uncommon to hear of 30-40% pay increments”.

The banking and financial services industry travelled through phases of low then high jobseeker movement. Christopher Poh, Principal Consultant, Private Banking & Wealth Management of EBC, attributes the low activity at the start of the pandemic to market uncertainty. “Employees realised the value of stability, especially if they witnessed cost cutting within their organisation.” Uncertainty was especially noted in client facing sales positions as covid restrictions impacted face to face engagements and travel, creating a lack of confidence in building new sales pipelines for current or prospective employers.

However, as the pandemic began to stablise, “highly skilled talent recognised opportunities or market trends to capitalise on their existing and future skillsets and the lower competition at the time to fast-track their professional success. These individuals successfully made switches without compromise, even substantially raising their pay packages” adds Martina Potocar, Director of Private Banking & Wealth Management of EBC. “In fact, those choosing to make their move late potentially risk facing increased competition. For those with skillsets less in demand this may result in smaller rewards.”

There has been a trend of jobseekers moving from traditional banking to tech-driven platforms such as fintech and digital asset driven companies to transition their skill sets in an industry that they view as the new era of business.

The supply chain industry noted little movement. Featured in the Straits Times, Rob Wisdom, Director of Supply Chain & Procurement of EBC explains, “this industry was under pressure to navigate the barriers that arose due to the pandemic – an example being the food and beverage sector which took relatively longer to recover. Many who stayed in their jobs were later rewarded with promotions, succession plans, pay increments and better bonuses. Some who left their roles found it difficult to find new employment until more recently”

Factors driving job switching frequency

The pandemic affected people professionally and personally. With risk and uncertainty at raised levels, charting career moves would feel more urgent. Circumstantial factors such as long work hours and a lack of work life balance were further exacerbated by the pandemic. Anxiety related to layoffs and company stability were also reasons why candidates looked to jump ship.

Many others also took the pandemic as a signal to explore opportunities in new burgeoning industries that were ‘the future’ or more ‘pandemic proof’. With the rise of remote work and other hybrid work models, individuals sought to find roles that offered them arrangements more suited to their lives.

The impact of turnover

Turnover is disruptive as almost all roles are linked to productivity directly or indirectly. However, generally administrative or operational role turnover is slightly less disruptive as these roles hold less obstacles to overcome for new incumbents to make an impact than revenue generating positions.

Nonetheless all turnover carries labour, time and financial costs, often, borne more by the employer than candidate. Ankit Kochar, Senior Director of Technology, shares that “placing the right individuals in the right roles is highly valuable to any organisation, exceptionally so in today’s rapidly evolving world and uncertain economic and geo-political environment”

How candidates can manage employer bias to mitigate negative perceptions

Employer bias will have a role in determining the success of any candidate. Employers may tend to have a negative perception of ‘job hoppers’ and most employers will prefer candidates with a stable career history. Each individual’s definition of what is moving too frequently varies, as do the reasons a person may have for job hopping. Tolerance for job hopping also varies between sectors.

“Talent are looking to accumulate knowledge and skills in an everchanging market to align their careers with the pace of today’s technologically advanced world” says Martina. Developing new skillsets through new roles and industries can accelerate or future proof their career progression. “These candidates should demonstrate their learnings and the impact they can make to the potential new employer. Take care to build your intentions into your resume and cover letter, and prepare to address your career moves in interviews.”

Still, candidates should “understand the risk of diminished credibility and be careful to stay focused on learning and development and making the right career decisions over short term financial uplift. This way they will have a right reasoning for next role even at a small tenure” shares Ankit.

Linus, featured in The Straits Times, advises that candidates having trouble finding the right fit should do their due diligence in learning about the role, company and business expectations when evaluating a job. This can be achieved through research, speaking with industry contacts and headhunters, and returning questions to the interviewer – interviews are a two-way process.

What employers can do to make better placements in a talent short market

Employers will gain from keeping up with the changing needs of the talent market. “It is important to recognise the difference between multiple movements that hold high value in the form of product knowledge, transferrable skills, client relationships and so forth, versus multiple movements that are simply failed transitions.” Martina emphasises. Martina’s comment was picked up by The Straits Times.

More success in placing the right talent can be found through “evaluating candidates on having made meaningful, structured and successful transitions into new companies by asking competency-based questions around company culture and business adaptations, stakeholder relationships and how they have specifically achieved key results” shares Martina.

“Employers should also take care to craft accurate role descriptions as opposed to using templated descriptions, or exaggerating requirements or benefits to capture a better candidate than required for the role” Linus adds. “We have seen cases where roles were grossly oversold, and the actual picture was nowhere near what was described. Matched expectations are critical to building trust and finding appropriate talent.”