Working in Hong Kong
Expats working in Hong Kong have long found themselves in one of the more attractive destinations for moving abroad, at least as far as employment is concerned. Multinational companies abound, and its laissez-faire capitalist economy, a legacy of British rule, still opens up opportunities for ambitious foreign nationals.
Although its return to Chinese sovereignty over a decade ago led to more jobs being localised, with mainland Chinese allowed to work in the region as well, there are still opportunities for expatriates. This is especially true for expats working in banking and finance, highly skilled expats, those who wish to teach English in Hong Kong and volunteers. Degrees from American and British universities are also still highly respected by the local population, and working in the Fragrant Harbour is generally thought to be a positive career move.
That said, immigration procedures can be fairly tedious. To get a work permit, expats will need to find an employer sponsor, meaning that they'll need a solid a job offer beforehand. The Immigration Department also needs proof that the applicant will contribute to the Hong Kong economy in a way that a local could not.
Expats accepting a job in Hong Kong should do their research before negotiating a contract and secure a high enough salary to support themselves and their family.
Job market in Hong Kong
While most expats still work in the financial sector, more are being employed in other, developing areas of business such as management and IT. With one of the largest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region, however, there's plenty of space for expats to find a niche.
Having some knowledge of Mandarin or Cantonese will help expat job applicants, but there are some industries that don’t require a Chinese language. This is especially true for transnational companies. Expats from industries in which skills are in short supply such as IT, digital advertising, HR and the legal sphere will also have an added advantage. Investment banks, in particular, continue to entice many abroad, although lucrative expat packages are becoming increasingly rare aside from those employed to senior positions.
Westerners working in Hong Kong will probably experience some degree of culture shock. For starters, the working week is much longer than they may be used to – it isn't unusual for this to run above 50 hours. The “work hard, play hard” ethos is a hallmark of the Chinese special administrative region.
It is also important to be aware of the finer intricacies of doing business. For example, giving and receiving business cards with both hands is important and bosses should always foot the bill for their staff during social occasions.
Finding a job in Hong Kong
Many expats move to Hong Kong with a job contract already in place. The largest and most reputable companies tend to headhunt employees, and lure them abroad with high salaries and the promise of luxury living.
That said, even for those who aren't one of the lucky international candidates to be recruited in advance, there’s an assortment of avenues that can lead to a well-landed job. There are many recruitment companies, and online job portals are also in no short supply. The Standard, Hong Kong's largest English newspaper, also has a designated careers section. Finally, companies tend to advertise positions directly on their websites. By consulting a few targeted organisations regularly, opportunities for application won't be too difficult to find.