Navigating your career to Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a wonderful city, it is also an economic powerhouse, a global financial centre and the gateway to China.  The culture is unique, the streets are safe at night, it hustles and bustles 24/7 with activity and don't forget as many do that it has some incredible countryside and mountains and scenery.  Search online and you will find a wealth of information on the many wonders you could experience as a tourist, however one thing that is missing from this picture is how an expat find their way to Hong Kong to work!

There is a thriving and sizeable ex-pat community in Hong Kong, the United States, UK, Europe, Australia, Canada and more have large numbers of people who found there way to this tiny island and made a life here.  How did they do that, what's the secret, are they all the top of their fields, leading bankers etc?

Simple answer is no, they are simply people who yes obviously have skills and are sought after to but really they are no more specially talented than thousands of other people out there.

So what is the secret, let me explain a little history about me.

I am a Headhunter, I have been in Hong Kong for the last 5 years and during that time I have moved many people across the planet to join us on our crowded little island known to the local Chinese as "Fragrant Harbor".  I have also seen many many more people try and fail to secure a role here, what separated the people who made it those that did not?  Well it wasn't my intervention, well maybe a little, but for the most part it was that they followed some key rules and principles, they did their research and they were consistent in their approach.

The Networked City

Hong Kong itself is a networked and small city, many here refer to it as a village, it is hard to walk through the streets of Central Hong Kong and not see a face or two that you recognize (at least when you meet as many people as I do). So with that in mind let me lay down a few simple yet effective strategies for finding work in Hong Kong and realizing that dream of taking a step into Asia and boosting your career (and quite possibly lowering your taxes).

  1. Map your market, understand the size and scope of your particular profession, do your research
  2. Make contact with some reputable and knowledgable recruiters in the city, don't rely on email, pick up the phone.  This is a vital point to make, as I said in a previous article this is about you qualifying the recruiter, seeing if he or she really knows your market. They are your eyes and ears in the city, find some good ones and build a relationship with them
  3. Start networking on Linked In, research the key figures in your space and drop them a message or connect with them, at the very least join the groups that they are a member of
  4. Find peers in your space and network with them online, they are in Hong Kong, they know the market and will likely be able to give you valuable information. Just ask, if you don't as you don't get.
  5. Now notice that until this point I have not even suggested that you send a CV anywhere or use a job board, this is deliberate. A succesful strategy for entry into any market does not begin without intelligence and research, without finding the shape of the market and devising a plan of attack. During this fact finding and networking you should be recording both new information and contacts that you make.
  6. Job boards are not great here in Hong Kong, they are either aimed at the local and low end of the market or they are limited in scope i.e. they are showing but a tiny portion of the available roles for hire in the city.  Use them for background information or interesting leads only, resist spamming your CV through the job boards wherever possible. 
  7. Go direct or work through a very reputable Headhunter who can represent you professionally even if there is no job advertised (yes they can do that) but not all will.
  8. Record every single little thing in detail, and I mean everything it will be important later
  9. Be prepared that in order to really show commitment you may have to travel here at your own expense for a week in order to both interview and meet those recruiters and peers that I mentioned before.  There is likely going to have to be a follow up week for actual job interviews at a later date.  This seems a little committing and expensive, well yes it is but nothing screams I am serious about this like getting on a plane and flying here to shake hands in person.  Believe me it is powerful and it works!

There is a lot more on this subject but for ow please be mindful that this advice works, it worked for countless people before you and it remains a powerful and effective way to arrive in Hong Kong to take a quantum leap forward in your career.

I wish you all the best in your search


Getting a lift to where you want to be in Hong Kong

Hong Kong TaxiCredit: Ben FoxCredit: Ben Fox