Job Hunting in Hong Kong
If you're planning to move to Hong Kong, one of the first thing you'll need to do your research on is the job market.
We’re going to be straight with you – employment opportunities for expats are hard to secure in Hong Kong because companies can only employ you if they can prove that the role could not be filled by a local. But having said this, there are several industries hiring expats almost exclusively over locals in Hong Kong, and the jobs market is still growing. So if you’re not being transferred to your Hong Kong office but still want to move here for work, it’s time to get on with your job search – with our help of course.
A brief word on visas, though check out our helpful article here that’ll give you the lowdown on all the conditions for every HK visa you might need. Put simply though, there are three ways to get an employment visa for Hong Kong.
- Find a job before coming to Hong Kong. Your new employer is now responsible for sponsoring your visa, though remember what we said about employers having to prove they couldn’t offer your job to the local workforce
- Ask for a transfer to the Hong Kong branch of your business
- Come to Hong Kong with a Visitor Visa and seek work once here, through networking. This is a riskier option of course, so we would recommend options one and two over this
Banking and finance are the biggest expat employers in Hong Kong today, often placing expats on relocation contracts from other major banking cities like London and New York. There’s also good demand in HK for legal and accountancy professionals, and all these expat-heavy industries are relatively easy to navigate without speaking Cantonese, though it won’t hurt your application to have some basic Cantonese at least – it’s widely accepted as the language of business in Hong Kong, alongside English. You will struggle to find employment outside finance, legal and accountancy without being able to speak some Cantonese, though. Time for some lessons?
Teaching is another high demand industry for expats coming to Hong Kong, so your best bet is to seek the help of an agency if you wish to take your teaching career to Asia. The Native- speaking English Teacher (NET) Scheme recruits qualified teachers internationally for year-long contracts in public schools, and is worth checking out, too.
Salaries in Hong Kong
Below you’ll find average salaries for some of Hong Kong’s most in demand occupations amongst expats today.
|Real Estate||50,000 HKD|
|Executive and Management||116,883 HKD|
Some of the major expat employers in Hong Kong are: Bank of China (BOC) Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific Airways, Cheung Kong, China Mobile, China Netcom Group, China Unicom, CLP Holdings, Cnooc, Henderson Land, Hutchison Whampoa, Jardine Matheson, Sun Hung Kai Properties, Swire Pacific.
CVs and applications
Start by looking online for positions coming up in Hong Kong – XpatJobs and the Career Times are just a couple of the sites popular with our expats, but do a quick Google search and you’ll find Hong Kong sections for the sites you’re already familiar with, such as Indeed, Adecco, Reed and Monster. If you start to look for work once you arrive in Hong Kong with a Visitor Visa, spend time looking through classified adverts in the local and national papers as well as in trade magazines for your sector.
A Business Directory also exists for those wishing to send out speculative applications and CVs to employers in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce publishes this, and is another great place to start networking if you’re already in HK and on the job hunt. Other organisations worth contacting are the Council of Hong Kong Professional Associations and the Hong Kong Coalition of Professional Services.
Sending out a speculative CV or application is the ‘done’ thing in HK, though recruitment agencies are also a solid option for finding work out there. If you sign up to agencies while still at home, you will of course need to prove your commitment to moving to Hong Kong if you want them to take you seriously. A bit of a chicken and egg situation, we’ll admit.
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Advertised positions will normally ask for a CV with accompanying covering letter, though email is fast becoming the preferred mode. CVs should be three pages long at the most, using reverse chronological order with the most recent employment and education at the top, working downwards. All academic results are vitally important on your CV and may need to be proven at a later stage. Bear in mind that the education system in Hong Kong is similar to that of the UK, so you will most likely be competing with a well-qualified local for your position. You will also need to state your language abilities in spoken and written Cantonese and English, and declare whether you hold residency in HK.
Not that networking only happens in person these days, but if you do find yourself job seeking in Hong Kong, there are plenty of opportunities to join expat groups, clubs and professional organizations that will open doors both socially and vocationally. Normally you will need to sign up or register to become a member of a network, and pay a subscription fee of some sort. In return, you will be invited to networking events, receive publications and access to useful online resources and even free or discounted consultation services. Joining your country’s Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong is a good place to start.
Are you an expat living and working in Hong Kong, or have you already been there, done that and got the T-shirt? We’d love to know your best bits of advice for getting on and finding work in Hong Kong, so drop us a comment below!