Q3 2019: Market Insights for Customs & Global Trade

Each quarter, our specialist Indirect Tax team monitors the number of in-house vacancies released onto the job market across Europe to provide you with a quarterly overview of recruiting trends. The data below provides a digestible snapshot to the in-house market from adverts posted directly from employers.*

What happened in Q3?

It’s come as no surprise that the Global Customs & Trade market has pertained the title of being a consistent market for job seekers. Following Q2’s breakdown, there’s been a rather large quantity of roles open to those at the graduate to junior level.

In what’s been considered a highly uncertain outcome in the divisive topic of Brexit, there have been few consequences on the market. The interesting thing about the market recently, however, has been the fact that hiring managers have considered Customs to become a candidate short market. It could be argued that this comes down to companies’ strong ability to retain and motivate their staff preceding an impending UK departure from the EU.

A View into the Customs Market

The Customs & Global Trade employment market has proven to be extremely buoyant in 2019 with total job listings consistently being more than 100 per quarter. Q1 reflected a total of 100 vacancies, whilst Q3 rallied an increase to 118 new vacancies, not including re-advertised roles or agency-represented vacancies.

The demand is different for different grades in the market, with most roles opening at the junior to mid-grade (mid-level Management). Junior grade roles (Analyst levels) made up 67% of the market, maintaining the trend we’ve seen across the last few quarters.

There’s been a relatively clear distribution of jobs across Europe. Controlling over 50% of the market, the UK, Ireland and the DACH regions were the most active in creating roles across Customs & Global Trade.

Establishing & Analysing the Demand

In the UK & Ireland last quarter, we saw a total of 30 vacancies. Our Report highlights a similar sum (32) of roles, all of which fell at the junior and mid management level. Last quarter saw several mid-management roles open, however moving into the second half of the year, the UK controlled a relatively larger portion of the market.

The BENELUX region has become an extremely attractive place to live and work in as one of our Tax Expats has outlined; this could be thanks to the lucrative 30% tax ruling. The Netherlands in particular, is arguably one of the top destinations in Western Europe – 17 vacancies alone in this region made up 50% of the BENELUX market.

This quarter has seen a significant increase in output from the DACH region. 38 roles have opened in the DACH market. Not only does this indicate a booming DACH market (which is also in line with our reporting for Indirect Tax & Tax Technology jobs), but we were provided with the most variety across all grades. It’s worth noting, however, that most vacancies were still pitched at the junior level.

The Rest of Europe was relatively quiet with a total of only 20 advertised vacancies. However, outside of the UK, BENELUX, and DACH hubs, it’s clear that there’s a higher demand for more Management positions, which is likely because large in-house tax teams are less prevalent in these countries and therefore customs and global trade remain a one-man-band function.


In what’s become a very bottom-heavy market, the junior grade roles again, made up the majority of the vacancies at 67%. This has been the largest share of the market across 2019 and reflects how customs is very much on the agenda for global businesses and that there’s now an appetite to invest in developing junior teams.

Assistant Manager

Following an increase in roles at this level in Q2, there was a drop off as only 3% of roles made up a busy Q3. The lack of vacancies at this level, which can be expected, has replaced an increased need at the junior level.


Mid-management roles, much like the Analyst positions, have maintained their fair share of consistency. Whilst there’s been a slight decrease from last quarter, Manager roles still made up 25% of the total vacancies and suggest that it’s a good time for practice-trained professionals to explore what’s out there on the market.


Unsurprisingly, there was little to no action at this grade with a total of 5 positions opening across Europe. Considering current events, there are still businesses that seek leadership in their Customs functions, however, it’s been clear that there’s been a significant focus towards the other end of the spectrum.


Leading up to what’s likely to be a very controversial October, it’s been interesting to see hiring trends in the Customs and Global Trade market. Considering the buoyant market, it’s been nothing short of a roller coaster ride which will culminate in the UK’s Brexit. In addition to that, we cannot forget the current status of trade talks between the US and China – this has of course created more than enough stir.

Current events have arguably had an extremely positive impact to this niche sector of Indirect Tax and will remain to be a favourable market for any job seekers. It’s become a market that’s done well to hold onto key members of staff (creating the candidate short market), however, once uncertainties in the trade market settle, it’ll be interesting to see how this will impact businesses’ customs departments in the near future.

Please also read our Indirect Tax and FS & Insurance Indirect Tax insights.


*We omit the number of confidential mandates that HJ are assigned or job adverts posted by other recruitment firms. It should also be highlighted that many vacancies go unadvertised due to confidential or highly sensitive searches.


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