Moving to Hong Kong


HR in Hong Kong has changed in a number of ways over the years and has moved on from the old Personnel functions of the past. Mainly thanks to an increasingly competitive market, employers nowadays have to be far more alert to HR talent than they ever have been.

This has meant a number of people coming into Hong Kong from overseas in the past, however due to an increase in talent here in Hong Kong we’re not quite seeing the influx of days gone by.

Still, we are still getting a number of CV’s from overseas, of people who are fed up with life in slow growth areas of the world.

Therefore candidates from overseas have to be able to identify ways in which they will make themselves stand out from the crowd.

Within this article we look at the best ways to make a move happen and what to think about if you start to have those initial phone conversations.

Why Hong Kong?

Most employers are interested to hear about the market in other locations of the world, but what they really want to know is why Hong Kong and Asia appeals to you.

Therefore your answers have to concentrate on the plus points of being here, not just saying that things are a little down in your location and you thought you would take a look at the market.

Think about the market here and the business style compared to where you are. The main things to think about before speaking to someone in Asia are:

  • Growth figures in the relevant country you are applying
  • Exchange Rate, is it high or low? What would this mean for you and the company hiring you?
  • Interest Rates
  • Taxes
  • Cost of living
  • Your main reason for applying
  • How easy would it be for you to move?
  • Is there a family or partner to think about in a move?
  • Have you been to Hong Kong?

Being Flexible

Clients love candidates that are just passionate about being here and see this as a place where they can truly develop their career. Clients do have options on good talent based in Hong Kong and therefore you need to work out what your selling point is and what makes you different from the rest. If you want the experience, sometimes it’s worth considering a role in a higher demanding area that you may have covered in the past.

High Demand Positions in 2011 for Expatriates

  • Graduate Recruitment – we understand that there is a similarity between this role and those based in other locations, however there is also a shortage of candidates in this growing space, a sideways career move now could pay off long term.
  • Senior Experienced Hire Recruitment Managers – people with at least 3-5years in-house experience within a recruitment function. Management experience of people is a plus as would be Finance experience.
  • Reward Managers – always a tricky area, but clients are more likely to take people from overseas due to the technical requirements of the function.


Once you have looked at and considered all of the above points think about a trip here. It can be a lot easier to get in front of a client and be considered for a role if you are going to be in Hong Kong at some stage.

Searching for a job from overseas can be exceptionally tricky unless you possess Cantonese or Mandarin language skills so you need to think about making yourself available for meetings. Ask people the best time to come, in all of this you need to treat any trip as a social trip with a view that you hope to get some meetings scheduled.


There is still a very good market for Expatriates in Hong Kong but you have to be smart with your search and take opportunities when they arise. The days of the big Expat salary have well and truly gone and you are up against some good talent based here that might have a language or two that you don’t.

Be flexible, know your market and above all, be excited about it!

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