Working in Hong Kong is a unique experience. Hong Kong contains one of the largest skilled expat populations in the world. There is an abundance of expat career opportunities in Hong Kong for overseas job hunters in most industries, from multinational corporations to start-ups. There are plenty of jobs in Hong Kong for English speakers, and Chinese language experts alike.
But what are the practicalities of job-hunting and working in Hong Kong? Are there any conventions you need to know, which may differ to home? Are there any restrictions affecting foreigners? Read on for some tips to help get your job search underway.
Finding work in Hong Kong- prior to making the move
No matter what you’re working background is, it is wise to carry out some research within Hong Kong before moving.
It’ll help you scope out the job market, see which companies exist here and what any potential interest may be for expats.
Make use of personal contacts – as with many other expat/ Eastern hubs, knowing the right people in Hong Kong is of utmost importance; it’s a networking hotspot where ‘who you know’ really counts.
Plenty of people get jobs on referrals, from friends, family or friends of friends that are working in Hong Kong. No matter how tenuous the link, tap into anyone you know already working in Hong Kong and see if they can help. Or ask if they know anyone who can.
Although it’s wise to scope the market out as early as possible, don’t be disheartened if you have no feedback. A lot of companies won’t take you seriously until you’ve landed and are a Hong Kong resident full-time. It’s good to make yourself known though.
Once you’ve moved to Hong Kong
Now you can really start getting proactive in looking for a job in Hong Kong.
Register with as many relevant recruitment agencies as possible – there’s an abundance of them here with big international firms like Michael Page and Robert Walters. Chances are you’ll need to have an internal interview with the agency so they can ascertain what it is you’re looking for.
Check Gateway Global Careers
Go direct – make contact with any companies you’re interested in. Seek out people working there, whether it’s via Linkedin, Twitter or personal contacts. Message them and ask about available opportunities.
The job application process
A lot of jobs in Hong Kong are advertised for English and Chinese speakers only. It’s not worth applying for these roles unless you have extensive knowledge of the language. Where this isn’t mentioned it’s safe to assume that they are jobs for english speakers.
State your position clearly – explain that you’re an expat, newly relocated but highlight experience overseas, this is often welcomed. Make clear as well what sort of pass you’re on, whether it’ s a dependent pass, long term or short term visit pass. Potential employers will want to know this so it’s worth putting in your application.
Job interviews – the process in Hong Kong is much like anywhere else in the world. Shortlist – interview – second interview (occasionally third) – job offer.
The job offer
Unlike most other countries, expat salaries are offered in monthly amounts, rather than annual. Because of tax differences it’ll be difficult to compare back to salaries in your home country but it’s safe to say the tax is favourable (see our tax section). Some companies offer salary estimates for various industries but take the information with a pinch of salt, it’s hard to know who is getting paid what unless you know what peers are earning or someone here has told you what the average is for you age/experience/relevant industry. If you get the chance ask a recruitment consultant, they’ll be able to give some steer on this.
The Employment Visa
Once you’ve accepted this will be conditional, based on the successful issue of an visa. This can take anything from a few days to a couple of weeks to come though so you may need to sit tight for a start date.
For more information on visas, check out our visa section.
A growing need for expat workers in Hong Kong
Earlier in 2012 the Hong Kong Government highlighted a skilled employee shortfall of 14,000 by 2018 and has committed itself to increasing incentives for foreign skilled workers to move to and work in Hong Kong.
Finally, don’t expect overnight success. Job-hunting anywhere in the world is hard work and can consume your days. Expect to search for at least three months. Don’t be too choosy about what you apply for, send of for as much as possible and see what comes back.
If you’re doing everything mentioned above then it’s matter of time. Good luck!