Published on 24th February 2016
The easiest and least risky way to secure a finance role in Hong Kong if you are based overseas is to internally transfer within your current organisation.
This not only means that you will have a guaranteed position but also it provides an immediate support network, familiarity with work processes and allows you time to master your new role in the comfort zone of your existing employer whilst settling into a new country. However, International Transfers are not always possible or may take a long time to materialise, so if you are keen to secure a role in Hong Kong asap then these our top tips are:
- Know Your Market - It is vital that you conduct research on Hong Kong to understand if your skills set and experience will be in demand. For in-demand, highly capable, experienced qualified finance professionals securing a finance role is usually very possible but there are some challenges to securing a role. It is important to bear in mind that Hong Kong is a highly competitive job market and that often employers do look at local talent or individuals with regional experience, or those with Cantonese or Mandarin languages skills first before looking for overseas applicants. However, this obviously varies according to the level of the role and the skills set required and many organisations are happy to look at candidates based outside of Hong Kong without Chinese language skills where relevant. Having internationally recognised qualifications such as ACA, CPA or CFA will increase your chances. The key here is to do your research before you start applying! At a junior / entry level it is also worth checking work permit requirements and for senior level executives bear in mind that there are less senior finance opportunities in the market so it may take a lot longer to secure a role.
- Visit for an Extended Period - Although not impossible, it can be difficult to secure a role in Hong Kong when you are based overseas. Demonstrate your commitment to employers that you want to work in Hong Kong by visiting for an extended period. This allows you to meet employers, actively network and allows you to investigate in person the standard and cost of living. It also helps to work out your likely expenses (and this can help allow you to keep an open mind when it comes to salary negotiations.)
- Network, Network, Network - As above, if possible visit for an extended period as there is no substitute for actually being in Hong Kong to network in person. However, with today’s social media and online tools such as LinkedIn, you can easily pinpoint specifically your target audience and network without being here. We would recommend reaching out to your network: colleagues, your social circle or alumni of your school, college or university. In addition, you can utilise online networks by joining various professional groups. When you are here, organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce for various countries hold regular events, connecting like-minded members and providing advice. These may not lead you instantly to a job opportunity but can no doubt point you to the right contact and direction.
- Be Realistic - Typically, the days of landing a high paying role on a full expat package including a host of benefits such as housing, schooling etc. are behind us unless it is an executive level appointment or an internal transfer (and even then localised packages are often the norm these days). Whilst some relocation assistance may be possible it is important to be realistic and flexible. Bear in mind that securing a promotion, a change in industry or job type, a 30%+ pay rise and extra benefits is not going to happen at the same time as moving country! Hong Kong is a highly competitive employment market so If you want to move here then you may need to be prepared to accept a role and/or salary that are not your perfect choice. Our advice is to stay flexible, get a foot in the door, build your experience level and you can quickly accelerate your career in Hong Kong.
- Partner with a Recruiter - Register your interest with a global recruitment firm such as Ambition as this could also provide you with invaluable local market knowledge, advice and updates. They will also be able to advise on the likelihood of your securing a role in Hong Kong as well as a recommended approach.