Hong Kong: the last 2 months

I knew it would happen, I wanted it to happen, but it happened much faster than I thought it would.

We are leaving Hong Kong at the end of July to return to the UK.

I love Hong Kong to bits, it’s such an amazing city full of contrasts and adventures, yet there are a few issues that mean it may not be the place where we settle.

These issues are:

  • The job market: simply put, I currently do not fit in.

I am a New Product Development Project Manager, but food companies with manufacturing operations in Hong Kong can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The few times I did see an offer, they regarded Chinese food, which I have no knowledge of…  Additionally, I do not speak, read or write Cantonese AND Mandarin fluently.

Mastering both Chinese languages is becoming increasingly mandatory and only a few sectors are exempt (banking being one of them).

 

  • Housing: renting a small apartment at high price doesn’t bother me too much. However, we want to eventually buy property, yet buying anything in Hong Kong seems unachievable. Not only is the price very high, the flats are tiny and the deposit is hefty. It simply isn’t achievable for us in the short/medium term.

 

  • Work culture: this one concerns Jeff rather than me. People at work are extremely competitive and do not hesitate to backstab colleagues and shoe-shine managers in order to get promoted. I’ve been told this behaviour is very common in certain industries/teams with local staff as it is instilled in people since kindergarten.

You see, there are only a handful of universities in Hong Kong, so parents put extreme pressure on their children to stand out from their classmates. This starts at a very young age with kids being enrolled in music, sport, arts & language classes, the only goal being to enter a prestigious primary school, then a prestigious high school and finally university. Children compete with one another on all aspects and this behaviour is carried over into their working lives.

 Hong Kong has so many good points: it’s safe, has easily reachable countryside, varied landscapes and no end of activities to try. Let’s not forget the food, central location for Asian holidays and warm weather.

 

I’ve learnt in the past seven years that no place is perfect and that it’s not about finding the place that ticks all the boxes, but the one that ticks the most important boxes…

I don’t know if England will tick the most important boxes (I’ll be honest and say I am concerned about safety)…but we thought we had to try, so when the opportunity came, we grabbed it.

 

We will try our best, but I would not be surprised if we eventually return to Hong Kong or try another country.

 

 

P.S: I do not plan on stopping the blog for now, even after I return to the UK

 

 

Finding a job in Hong Kong: be an expert

Recruiters in Hong Kong look for people who are specialists in one industry and one type of role. They look for experts.

 

Candidates with broader experience from different backgrounds are not valued as much as the ones who have specific experience in line with the position.

The emphasis is very much on expertise and less on transferrable skills.

 

For people looking to move to Hong Kong and finding a job here, it is necessary to look at the market and put a career plan into action several years before making the move.

While in your home country, chose a type of role; chose an industry and only take on positions that match this career plan.

Once you move to Hong Kong your experience will be highly focused and recruiters will value your expertise.

 

More about job hunting in Hong Kong: differences with Europe

 

 

Finding a job in Hong Kong : differences with Europe

 

I am currently looking for a new job in Hong Kong, so I thought I would chronicle the process.

In this first post, I give an insight into the difference with job hunts in Europe (from my experience of course).

Lull in the market between December and February

Just like Europe, the job market comes to a stall at the end of the year until February.

The reason is most Chinese companies give out employee bonuses around Chinese New Year so employees wait until then to resign from their roles.

In the same logic, the market really picks up just after Chinese New Year as many positions are vacated.

 

Online job boards are not very useful

In Europe I got all my positions by applying via online job boards, either directly to the company or a recruitment agency.

This technique isn’t very successful in Hong Kong, in particular for expats or senior roles. I have read in many articles that networking is a lot more efficient. I haven’t tried myself just yet.

 

Recruitment agents do not read your CV

I’ve had several phone calls from agents where I instantly realised the recruiter had only read the title of my CV before calling . The agent usually asks questions to which the answers are clearly stated on my CV.

I fully understand the recruiter wanting more details about my experience, but asking me what degree I have and what language I speak shows my profile hasn’t been studied before the call was made.

 

Recruitment agents will not waste their and your time

If an agent realises mid phone call or interview you are not a good match for the job they have on hand, they will tell you immediately and will end the interview.

This is quite the opposite of what I experienced in the UK where agents are happy to have quite lengthy conversations and get to know you as a person, but will not get in touch again if you do not fit the position.

 

Job hunting is never easy, recruitment techniques are evolving with technology and being in a foreign country without speaking the language or a visa makes it even harder!