Can companies find skilled tech talent during a talent crunch? Here’s how one Singaporean startup did it

Renald Loh
Renald Loh
March 3, 2022

Back in 2020, the team over at Luce Maintenance Group outlined a plan to digitalise their cleaning service business. Their goal? To be “the one-stop solution” for all your cleaning needs; a product that makes it “incredibly convenient to get these services exactly when you want it, at the touch of a button.”

While the vision was grand and the blueprints were in place, reality presented a larger problem: they couldn’t find the right tech talent to execute the plan.

“We needed to build a full-fledged engineering team to support our digitalisation efforts,” recalls Jason Zheng, Luce’s CEO.

“[But] it was very difficult for us to find engineers locally. We tried pinging people and networking. Generally, it was not very successful. If you’re an engineer in Singapore today, there’s a lot of demand for your talents.”

Serious shortage of tech workers in Singapore

Finding and hiring the right workers isn’t an issue that is unique to Luce. According to Glints’ 2021 Southeast Asia Tech Talent Compensation Report, companies around the region are facing a serious tech talent crunch.

Engineering and product manager roles are highly sought after. Yet, they are increasingly elusive. Singapore in particular has an increasing number of home-grown, tech-based startups, and is hit especially hard by this shortage.

With more resources at their disposal, large enterprises have had the upper hand in the battle for this tightening local talent pool of skilled workers, offering attractive benefits and even showing a tendency to pay above market rates. For instance, companies like Google and Facebook (now Meta) are known to bump up compensation levels for technical employees, creating a ripple effect for the rest of the industry who are forced to follow suit.

The competitive landscape doesn’t appear to favour resource-strapped startups like Luce.

Need help building a team? Glints can help match you with skilled tech talent across Southeast Asia quickly and affordably. Visit our website to find out more about our talent solutions.

Sourcing skilled tech talent from abroad

To tackle this issue, companies are increasingly open to the idea of hiring tech talent from overseas to fill the local talent gap. A recent survey of 1,500 business leaders across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region found that 55% of companies were willing to engage overseas talent remotely.

Most of the time when employers think of remote teams, they not only see them as complementary to tIn Singapore, that figure is 57%. Crucially, however, almost half of these businesses were not equipped with the resources and expertise for remote hiring. For instance, each country has its own unique manpower laws to contend with and new businesses are unlikely to have contacts or sufficient talent insights in every market.

Furthermore, there tends to be an initial (albeit understandable) scepticism when it comes to utilising remote talent. Do they have the right skills and experience? What if they become uncontactable during crucial periods? What about the administrative nightmare that comes with ensuring compliance?

Related: 5 myths about offshore remote teams

Jason and his team at Luce asked the same questions.

“This was pre-COVID, and normally you see the people you work with every day. So there were definitely some concerns about whether a remote team was going to work. Secondly, [I worried about] language ability and engineering ability. It’s a bit of an unknown.”

Faced with a bottleneck in their efforts to find the right hires and the pressure to digitalise quickly, Jason and his team decided to turn to Glints for help with their recruitment process.

Cleaning up their ‘acq’

Fast forward to the present, and Luce works closely with a remote team based out of Batam, Indonesia. With the help of their new hires, the startup recently launched their brand new consumer platform, with optimism all around that the company will achieve a top-line growth of at least 50% by next year. An instrumental contribution.

What changed, and how did they manage to acquire the tech talent that eluded them in order to grow their business?

“We had put off digitalisation for some time simply because we weren’t sure that we could build the team that could sustain that effort,” Jason recalls. “After the last year or so with Glints, we had finally been able to do so, and that’s very much due to the increase of the talent pool that we were able to access.”

Previously, Luce had relied on traditional job postings and their existing connections to fill their roles. That process was long, cumbersome, and ultimately unproductive.

On average, recruiters take about 3-6 months to hire skilled workers, with 38 hours spent on sourcing, screening, and interviewing per role. Glints’ regional network of more than 2 million interview-ready talent meant that Luce could find what they were looking for in a fraction of that time.

“This year was when we really started building that digital transformation capability, and I think the rate at which we’re able to iterate and improve as a business has also gone up.”

But how did they deal with the multitude of complications that come with hiring a remote team?

For Jason and Luce, the appeal of working with Glints was the fact that it provided a tailored suite of HR solutions in addition to the initial talent acquisition process. “Trying to have a HR department that figures out all the idiosyncratic rules to each region would have been fairly challenging,” he says.

From onboarding and managing payrolls, to employee benefits and even compliance, engaging Glints as an employer of record would prevent them from having to juggle too many balls at once. This can provide startups like themselves with the crucial bandwidth to focus on business development.

Moreover, their initial fears concerning reliability and assimilation were put to bed rather quickly. Glints’ Managed Talent service assists businesses with their onboarding processes, and helps integrate new hires with their existing teams in various ways – such as weekly check-ins and community engagement programs, to name a few.

Luce also made it a point to celebrate special occasions together with their remote team to deepen connections beyond a working capacity. Jason believes that these efforts have made the employees feel more comfortable and their physical distance a non-issue.

To date, none of their remote employees have “ghosted” – and that, according to Luce, is a testament to Glints’ comprehensive vetting process as well.

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“I think there have always been these solutions that help you hire a team under their payroll. But if they don’t help you source the people, that’s not really helpful,” he adds.

“There are a lot of recruiters as well, but after you recruit the person, who’s going to help you manage and administrate the whole thing? Those two halves hadn’t come together very well. The fact that Glints does end-to-end is very helpful especially to a company that’s just starting out.”

Need help building a team? Glints can help match you with skilled tech talent across Southeast Asia quickly and affordably. Visit our website to find out more about our talent solutions.

The case for building a remote tech team

Last year, an article on Forbes described remote talent pools as an “oasis” for software development team builders – and it’s not difficult to see why.

The global shift towards remote work processes during the pandemic has helped recruitment managers feel less apprehensive about tapping on regional talent.

Additionally, the wide range of salaries across Southeast Asia means that startups in the region can take advantage of the diversity of skill sets – all without having to worry about competing in an uneven local playing field when it comes to compensation.

In today’s world, a regionally distributed talent strategy is a winning strategy, and Luce has taken that approach in their stride.

“As a startup, what drives your growth is talent,” Jason concludes. “And I think that having a broader talent pool that you can reach out and recruit from is only going to be a competitive advantage.”

Fast track your growth today with Glints

As Southeast Asia’s largest talent recruitment and management platform, Glints can help connect you with skilled talent from Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines – so you can focus on growing your business without the hassle.

Hire anyone, anywhere in Southeast Asia. Start your remote hiring journey with Glints.

This article is brought to you by Glints TalentHub. Leading companies are actively building their borderless teams in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, and beyond. However, the prospect of going borderless can be daunting due to complex regulations and cultural ambiguities. With Glints TalentHub, you’ll have a dedicated team of in-market legal, HR, and talent experts by your side at every step of the way.

Glints TalentHub offers an end-to-end, tech-enabled talent solution that encompasses talent acquisition, EOR, and talent development. We empower businesses to leverage the strengths of regional talent efficiently to build high-performing, cost-efficient teams.

Schedule a no-obligation consultation with our experts to receive a tailored proposal today. 

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