As an international and vibrant city, Hong Kong is definitely an attractive place to start or advance your career. Low tax rates and generous salaries are certainly the icing on the cake for many expatriates considering Hong Kong.
However, exploring job opportunities in Hong Kong requires some time and effort. Here are some strategies for expats to find work in Hong Kong in 9 steps.
- Determine your situation: Before moving to Hong Kong, examine your skills and possibilities. As a major financial hub, much of Hong Kong’s economy is reliant on finance services and real estate, and there has been a rise of tuition services and international schools.
However, Hong Kong has also been affected by an economic crisis in the past years, and companies must sponsor you for a work visa to get a job in Hong Kong. While this may sound negative, there are still opportunities in Hong Kong – but it is important to determine your skills, research the current job market trends, and see how your skills fit into the labour market of Hong Kong.
- Look for employment beforehand: This typically works well in senior levels of the finance field, and in general for the education field. Check out for online job sites, such as LinkedIn and Jobs DB, as well as school and bank websites, and apply. If you land a position after a job interview, companies will guide you through the employment visa process.
- Ask your current employer to transfer you to their branch office in Hong Kong: This is probably the easiest way to work in Hong Kong, and many expats choose this way of working here. Request a transfer and have your company guide you through getting the employment visa.
- Travel on a visitor visa and find job opportunities in Hong Kong: This is not the best option, but there are few courageous expats that have found work this way. With a visitor visa, you are entitled to stay in Hong Kong for 90 days (or 6 months for UK nationals), and you can try your best to navigate job opportunities.
Be prepared that employers may not be willing to sponsor you, as they have to prove to immigration authorities that locals cannot fill your vacancy. However, some have found jobs as English teachers in learning centers and kindergartens.
- Get in touch with recruitment firms: Many household recruitment firms such as Michael Page, Hayes, Hudson, Adecco, Gemini, and Robert Walters have established branches in Hong Kong, as have other specialized and smaller firms. They can guide you through the process of finding jobs in Hong Kong with various industries.
- Brush up your CV Hong Kong style: Each country has its distinctive style when it comes to job applications. For example, most job applications in Hong Kong will ask applicants to state their expected range of monthly salary in their cover letters. Furthermore, salary itself is paid monthly and not hourly, with 15% or minimum of HKD $1250 deducted from your total salary for a Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF), which is an investment fund that goes towards your pension fund – as mandated by the Hong Kong government.
Another trivia fact is that a resume is addressed as curriculum vitae, or CV, in Hong Kong, as opposed to some countries where CVs only apply to applicants in the academia.
Learn about these country-specific facts on job applications, and have a good understanding of salary range for your desired jobs. Then polish your resume and put your best foot forward.
- Learn Mandarin or Cantonese in the meantime: Job searching can be frustrating, but it does not hurt to learn additional languages to open you up to more opportunities during your job search.
Although English is a widely spoken language in Hong Kong, many jobs often require applicants to be fluent in Mandarin and/or Cantonese. If you are fluent in Mandarin or Cantonese, there are more opportunities with local or Chinese companies with businesses in Hong Kong. Several expats with Chinese language skills have reported that their language skills have gotten them further with job opportunities and the advancement process.
- What if I am already in Hong Kong? If you are already in Hong Kong with a valid visa, opportunities are listed in online databases such as Jobs DB and Career Jet, with many listings updated daily.
You can also find opportunities in newspapers, including South China Morning Post, Wall Street Journal, and Career Times. If you can understand Chinese, postings are also updated in Ming Pao, Ta Kung Pao, and Hong Kong Commercial Daily.
- Don’t be afraid to take freelance jobs: If you are in Hong Kong already and are frustrated by this process, don’t worry. Although the ideal job is most often a stable 9-5 jobs, take freelance opportunities to stay current, gain experiences, and learn more about Hong Kong in your time here.
There are regular freelance or hourly opportunities from expatriate forums, such as Asia Xpat and Geo Expat. Moreover, the multitude of tuition and music centres means there is always a steady need for English and music teachers. Don’t forget to network and show yourself at industry and networking events, such as events from your country’s business chambers, consulates, and professional organizations.
In the past few years, Hong Kong’s fluctuating unemployment rate has decreased from over 5% to 3%, so even with the economic slow down, there are still opportunities out there. Furthermore, as Hong Kong is also conveniently connected to other city ports, such as Macau and Shenzhen, widening your job search may lead you to amazing opportunities in these Asian cities.