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Working in Hong Kong
Job Opportunities in Hong Kong
Since Hong Kong is a major global hub for trade and finance, expats often hope to benefit from its generous salaries, low taxes, and the local labor market. However, exploring job opportunities in Hong Kong requires some time and effort. Our article gives tips on options and strategies for expats.
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If you are trying to find work in Hong Kong, you need to explore the current labor market in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the economy – with its strong financial service industry – was affected by the various crises of the past few years. Nonetheless, Hong Kong’s GDP grew by up to 5% in 2011, 1.5% in 2012, and an estimated 3% in 2013. So even with a slowdown in economic growth, overly pessimistic predictions concerning the labor market don’t seem to have come true. There are still job opportunities in Hong Kong.
However, despite the relatively positive climate, job opportunities in Hong Kong aren’t that easy to come by for expatriates. Companies have to prove that no local can fill the position and sponsor a foreigner’s visa for Hong Kong. Most expats therefore move to Hong Kong on foreign assignments.
If your company doesn’t have a subsidiary in Hong Kong, you need to figure out alternative job opportunities in Hong Kong. Finding a vacancy and a willing visa sponsor is hard, but not impossible.
Options for Expats
There are three ways to obtain an employment visa for Hong Kong. Try to look for work before arriving in Hong Kong. The company is then responsible for sponsoring your visa and helping you with the application. It’s also their responsibility to prove that no local employee could fill the position.
The second option is to ask your current employer to transfer you to their branch office. This is probably the easiest way to take advantage of job opportunities in Hong Kong. Most expats choose this way if they want to work there.
The third option is trickier and not particularly recommended. You can travel on a visitor visa and investigate job opportunities in Hong Kong once you’re there. However, you have a limited time frame and limited resources. Moreover, as mentioned above, employers will not agree to sponsor you unless there are no locals for a vacancy. It’s up to you to prove you are worth being sponsored. While this option is not advisable, there are a few bold expats who have found employment in this way.
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Job Search Strategies
Without an employment visa and any knowledge of Cantonese, it can be difficult to tap into job opportunities in Hong Kong. Although English is widespread in the business world, many companies may insist that you be able to speak Cantonese. If your Cantonese is less than perfect, you may be luckier with expat-run businesses.
You should definitely get acquainted with the economy before looking into job opportunities in Hong Kong. Here are some good resources:
- The Wall Street Journal Asia provides extensive coverage of business news from Greater China. It also features a career section.
- The South China Morning Post is among Hong Kong’s biggest English papers. In addition to local business news, it has classified ads with plenty of job advertisements listed.
- Another big English newspaper is The Standard, with its dedicated finance section. Although its employment market is rather small, it still offers some job opportunities in Hong Kong.
- The Hong Kong Commercial Daily is a Chinese-language broadsheet with a business focus.
- Ta Kung Pao is the oldest Chinese newspaper. It can be especially helpful for expats with Chinese language skills.
As long as you reside at home, searching online for job opportunities in Hong Kong is the most effective way. XpatJobs and the Career Times are only two among numerous websites listing jobs that are currently advertised in Hong Kong. Upon arrival in Hong Kong, you should check local trade magazines and classified ads.
Alternatively, check out the business directory offered by the Hong Kong Chamber of Commerce. By contacting individual companies about unsolicited applications, you can discover new job opportunities in Hong Kong. Networking at foreign CoCs or professional associations is another strategy. You can find relevant business organizations via the Council of Hong Kong Professional Associations and the Hong Kong Coalition of Professional Services.
Lastly, get in touch with recruitment firms to enquire about job opportunities in Hong Kong. Household names such as Adecco, Gemini, Hays, Hudson, Michael Page, Morgan McKinley, or Robert Walters are active in Hong Kong, as are various smaller, specialized agencies. They’ll help you figure out which industries are hiring expats.
The Hong Kong Labor Market
With an economy that depends on the service sector for more than 90% of the GDP, there are certain industries that offer most job opportunities in Hong Kong: accounting and finance, architecture and urban planning, banking, healthcare and life sciences, management and human resources, ICT and e-commerce, and international law. Although manufacturing isn’t that important in general, specialists in advanced manufacturing as well as engineers have decent chances.
In the last few years, Hong Kong’s fluctuating unemployment rate decreased from over 4% and seems to have now stabilized at around 3%. So even with the huge GDP growth of the past few years coming to an economic slowdown, dire scenarios for the employment market have not come to pass. If the labor market can accommodate recent graduates, there’s no reason to despair with regard to finding work in Hong Kong.
- Social Security in Hong Kong
- Cost of Living in Hong Kong
- Government Services for Job Seekers