Hong Kong vs Singapore – A Quick Comparison on Recruitment Agencies

January 27, 2023

HK and SG share striking similarities in many aspects. Both are little islands in Asia. Culturally, more than 70% of the population in both cities are Chinese by ethnicity, and use English as its primary language partially due to its colonial influences. Despite their tiny geographical presence, both economies boast one of the highest GDP in Asia and both have a flourishing Financial sector.

It would make one curious, how are these two cities similar / different in the way they recruit? In this article, we compare the data we collected from the manpower/labour department of both governments to cast a quick comparison to draw some insights.

How are these two cities different in the way they recruit?


1Agencies that recruit maids are excluded from the stats. There are minor differences in the way Singapore and Hong Kong classify their agencies.

2We held a rather low bar here. An agency is considered to have an online presence if its website is not broken, not hacked, and has a SSL certificate.


One obvious pain point shared by employers in both cities is that there are more agencies than local 7-elevens in both cities. It’s difficult for any employer to even find the right recruiters to hire for their job openings.


Both Singapore and Hong Kong are seeing exponential growth in the number of new recruitment agencies. This trend is consistent in the last 10 years. It’s difficult to overstate how excited we are about this trend in the recruitment industry (see our in-depth analysis for Hong Kong). We at Find Recruiter have always envisioned the rise of boutique agencies and remote recruiting to shape the future of recruitment.

Notes: Data for 2020 is incomplete, and is excluded from trend analysis.


Based on the stats we collected, only 22% of agencies in Hong Kong have a proper online presence while 67% of agencies in Singapore have an online presence. It’s safe to say that recruitment firms in Singapore are more forward thinking and are IT savvy enough to adopt modern tools to better their craft. It also indicates that a larger % of agencies in Hong Kong are still primarily relying on their “relationships” to do their business.

The lack of an objective metric on agencies has forced employers to rely on word-of-mouth to select the right recruiters. We believe that this spells bad news for the HK recruitment industry as a whole. If the recruitment industry is to thrive, there must exist objective platforms/methods/metrics to measure the performance of each agency so employers are able to make more well-informed decisions on their recruiter selections.

In comparison, Singapore leads the way in encouraging transparency in the recruitment industry which allows agencies to be compared based on objective performance measures rather than vague marketing words. From Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MoM) website, one can easily find the following statistics on each recruitment agency:

  1. Demerit Point – It tracks the number of times an agency has breached the Employment Agency rules. For example, Michael Page and Kerry Consulting have each breached the rules 6 times. It gives employer more data to consider before engaging with an agency.
  2. Retention Rate
  3. Placement Volume

Note: It’s not difficult to spot that these stats collected by Singapore MoM is far from perfect (we cross-checked its data with some of the information we have internally, and there are some discrepancies). Nevertheless, we believe it’s a great step forward for the betterment of recruitment industry.


The recruitment industry in general is behind in adoption of modern tools in both Singapore and Hong Kong. However, at a glance, Singapore is ahead of Hong Kong in this aspect.

More transparency and objective performance metrics for each agencies should be made public. Without it, employers cannot distinguish a good agency/recruiter from a bad one. If employers aren’t able to make informed decisions when selecting the right recruiter, they are only going to use less, which is a detriment to the recruitment industry as a whole.

A lot of work is needed from all parties if the recruitment industry is to thrive. We at Find Recruiter are committed to do our part to provide more open data, transparency and a safe platform for recruiters and employers to collaborate.

Find Recruiter is a data centric recruitment platform. You can read more about us here. Share us your thoughts, both positive and negative feedback are welcome. If you like this article, follow us on LinkedIn to get the latest updates.

Ted Kuo

The tech guy behind Find Recruiter. Let's build a thriving recruitment community together.

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