Malaysia salary guide 2019: What you should be asking from your bosses

Digitalisation and improved compliance regulation are predicted to be the key drivers of recruitment activity in Malaysia next year. According to the Salary Survey 2019 by Robert Walters, greater clarity on the new government's policies and direction will pave the way for more positive market conditions in 2019. Meanwhile, job seekers can expect an approximate 20% to 30% salary increase in 2019.

In the B2C space within Kuala Lumpur, marketing professionals with strong profit and loss management skills will be in demand as companies seek expertise in driving profit margins, cost savings initiatives and campaign execution and implementation over creativity. Recruitment is expected to remain active and competitive across consultative sales, corporate communications, digital marketing and professional writing.

Individuals with strong skills in digital marketing and digital solutions sales will also be highly sought after, due to continued investment in digital and the increased adoption of technology. In light of this, hiring managers are advised to be clear, open-minded and reasonable with their expectations during the recruitment process.

Expectations that B2B corporate communications should possess combined expertise in government affairs, media and internal and external relations will prove to be a challenge for hiring managers next year. Meanwhile, recruitment of sales and marketing professionals for industrial sectors will continue next year, with strong demand in the mechanical and electrical, chemical coating and mechanical components sectors.

To attract talent in this B2B market, the survey recommends that hiring managers address company culture and fit at the start of the recruitment process. Also, mid-sized companies that are unable to match the monetary and fringe benefits of global organisations can consider offering alternative incentives, such as flexible working hours or health and wellness-related benefits. Professional development and training opportunities will be crucial in keeping quality employees engaged and relevant, particularly for those with specialised digital skill sets.

The survey described high job satisfaction to be a common sentiment among sales and marketing professionals in the B2B market in Kuala Lumpur. Hence, effective and constant communication between line managers and employees can effectively address present and future expectations. Job seekers are expected to receive an average salary increment of 20% to 30%.

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The demand for skills in emerging technologies such as robotics process automation, AI, big data and blockchain, will continue in 2019. As such, there will be strong hiring demand for skillsets in cyber security, digital forensics and cloud services. Increased investment in new systems and talent development can be expected in 2019, as technology continues to be a main business driver.

Hiring managers will be on the lookout for candidates with multiple skillsets, such as development operations and full stack development. The IT talent pool, according to the survey, will remain limited next year. Hence, hiring managers are advised to consider candidates with transferrable skills when filling a niche role. Individuals in this sector can also expect to receive a 20% to 30% salary increment when they switch jobs.

Meanwhile in Penang, sales and marketing positions in customer service and general product sales were in fair demand throughout 2018. In 2019, hiring managers will continue to search for candidates who are not only skilled in their respective functions but also possess good leadership and communication skills.
Recruitment for sales and marketing and HR professionals in Penang is expected to be "unusually challenging" next year.

This is due to lengthy interview processes in some organisations. As such, the survey recommends that hiring managers remain flexible in their criteria and expedite the hiring process to attract quality candidates and keep them engaged. Companies will also need to acknowledge that flexible working hours and career development opportunities are crucial to retain their best employees and consider making these options available. Job movers with sought after skill sets may be able to command salary increments above the average of 15% to 20%.

To retain quality employees,  companies should offer consistent training and career development plans. Meanwhile, hiring managers can keep staff engaged through cross-functional job rotations or regional exposure for junior and mid-level executives and work-life balance or empowerment initiatives for senior-level employees. Salary increments are expected to remain at 15% to 20% in 2019, with the exception of senior-level sales and marketing professionals within the consumer sectors forecast to receive hikes of 10% to 15% when moving jobs.