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Hiring in Sales & Marketing: Guide and Trends in 2024

2023 has been an eventful year for Sales & Marketing professionals in Indonesia. According to Michelle Tanjung, Senior Manager at Robert Walters Indonesia’s Sales & Marketing division, each sector presented a dynamic hiring landscape and distinctive work conditions influenced by macroeconomic conditions.

Within fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), Michelle noted a shift in consumer behaviours towards a more health-conscious outlook, resulting in dipping demand for less healthy consumption. Consumers were also increasingly price sensitive, and with inflation and rising operating costs, companies also curbed spending by capping or downsizing their teams.

Hiring sentiment for the retail sector, however, remained robust with international borders re-opening and an influx of brands entering or expanding in the Indonesian market. Michelle reveals, 

Many companies are facing increased challenges in recruiting talent. It’s no secret that the retail sector has high turnover rates, and the industry continues to contend with a tight talent pool, making it difficult to meet heightened demands.

Meanwhile, job movers in the healthcare sector would have found that there was less room to negotiate in salary discussions. Michelle relates, “Companies we worked with were more firm on their budget in 2023. However, on the whole, candidates prioritised company stability and they had higher expectations. Government regulations also tightened for multinational corporations (MNCs) in this space, and as a result, pharmaceutical and medical devices companies were hesitant to hire third-party vendors to recruit their talent.”

B2B sectors that are sensitive to government regulations also saw widely contrasting hiring landscapes. Some industries ramped up their headcount extensively, while others also took into account a looming recession and put hiring activities on hold. Michelle points out that the construction and building materials industries have allocated large portions of their budgets to infrastructure projects ahead of the political elections in the coming year.

“Industries such as logistics are leveraging emerging technologies such as automation, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance their capabilities in areas like e-commerce warehouse fulfilment. Investments in these technologies allow them to fulfilling rising e-commerce volumes, and it will also spur demand for talent who can help increase productivity and generate sales. Companies who supply these technologies and automation products also have increased hiring volumes,” says Michelle.

Read on to find out more about Michelle’s expectations for Indonesia’s labour market and hiring trends for Sales & Marketing professionals in 2024. 

More professionals return to the office and to previous firms

One rising trend in the FMCG sector is of ‘boomerang employees’ who re-join their previous companies for permanent or project-based roles. This trend is particularly prevalent among senior employees, and in the retail sector, which needs experienced talent with specific skillsets for different product categories. In 2024, companies in the space that are focusing on restructuring will have a leaner organisational structure, and they will look to bring onboard talent with expansive skillsets. Others that are focusing on new business directions will search for talent with specific skillsets.

In the healthcare sector, Michelle says that the rising popularity of contract roles is set to continue. She also notes that candidates in the sector typically stay in the same line of business, but the industry will continue to be more open to movement, with candidates with a pharmaceutical background moving to the hospital industry, for instance.

More candidates in the B2B sector are also beginning to accept the return to office, so Michelle anticipates that requests for flexible or remote work arrangements will dwindle. More companies in this space will also look to bring back former employees, as they appreciate that these talents possess the right skillsets, experience and familiarity with the company’s culture.

Top roles and skillsets in 2024

According to Michelle, hiring timelines in FMCG will now get longer than before as companies put certain jobs on hold or change their hiring requirements along the way. Candidates, too, are approaching new opportunities with a more critical eye.

The most in-demand skillsets in the sector are account management, distributor management, retail operations, digital marketing and influencer marketing. Roles that are highly sought after in this space include head of marketing, head of sales and retail operation managers (specifically for the luxury fashion and food & beverage sectors).

In healthcare, Michelle anticipates that candidates will maintain higher salary expectations in the year ahead. They will also prioritise work-life balance and flexibility, though there will be less of an emphasis on remote or hybrid work models. The industry will also continue to seek out well-rounded talent with a wide range of skillsets.

There will be strong demand for chief commercial officers or heads of commercial in the medical devices and hospital industries. Hospital groups and clinics will seek out chief operation officers or heads of operation. Across the board, brand managers and product managers are also in high demand.

More B2B companies are turning away from distributors or having only sales representations, and instead starting their own local entities in Indonesia. This will mean a higher demand for local talents to replace expat or foreign employees. Michelle also expects employers to prioritise a candidate’s demonstrable competencies over traditional qualification like degrees, and they will also incorporate more interview methods like skills assessments and coding challenges to evaluate potential hires. 

Roles in business development, sales operations and key account management are in high demand within the sector. Companies are also looking for talent with strong leadership skills and team management experience, as well as strong business acumen and experience building a business or division. 

Advice for talent attraction and retention

No matter what industry they are in, Michelle notes that it is becoming more of a challenge to attract and retain sales and marketing talent.

Salaries are no longer the focal point of consideration for candidates in FMCG who are now also concerned about other factors like flexibility, sustainability and distance. With the talent war going on in the retail and FMCG sectors, Michelle recommends that companies respond to candidates fast and streamline the hiring process where possible to increase their odds of clinching high quality talent. She also adds that it is vital to provide more competitive salaries to attract top candidates, who may feel less incentivised to leave their existing roles where they are well compensated.

Good candidates are also high in demand in healthcare, and success in recruitment often boils down to the personal relationship between the candidate and the recruitment partner. “Companies should communicate salary expectations, work arrangements and location clearly, and understand the candidates’ interests as they also look beyond the salary to consider other factors like cultural fit. A smooth recruitment process tends to be important in the candidates’ decision making process,” says Michelle. “To retain talent, make sure your employees are given opportunities to develop their soft skills or to gain exposure in areas they are interested in.”

In the B2B sectors, professionals are often enticed by job prospects offering personal growth and a strong cultural fit. Senior candidates, in particular, seek workplaces closer to home for reduced commutes and a better work-life balance. Companies investing in training, upskilling, and fostering a safe, healthy work culture stand out in the competitive hiring market, especially when they provide opportunities for personal development and flexible work arrangements. As the younger workforce prioritises work-life balance, flexibility, and meaningful work, companies adapting to these preferences and emphasising employee well-being will excel in attracting and retaining talent. 

Salary increments influenced by many factors

In 2024, FMCG professionals may receive only slight increments in salary as the industry contends with tight budgets.

While candidates in healthcare tend to expect 20% salary increments at minimum when changing jobs, Michelle expects that salaries will rise at the usual market rates.

Salaries in the B2B sector will be influenced by various factors such as foreign direct investment and other market conditions. Despite increased foreign investment, if global or local economic headwinds pick up, salaries are not expected to increase significantly. However, compensation packages will remain competitive in some sectors like logistics, energy, telecommunications, and finance. Candidates in niche

markets such as animal feed additives and agriculture may be able to command larger pay raises due to a shortage of talent.

“Overall, professionals in the B2B space can expect to see salaries increase within the range of 15 – 20%,” concludes Michelle.

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Michelle  Tanjung

Michelle Tanjung

Sales, Indonesia

With over eight years of experience as a Brand Manager at a multinational FMCG company and as a Recruitment Specialist at Robert Walters, Michelle currently leads our Sales & Marketing team.

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