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Finding a Job, CVs, Interviews and Etiquette for Expats in Hong Kong

Submitted: August 2013

Finding a job

The most convenient way to search for jobs in Hong Kong is by using online job portals. These enable you to filter your search according to job function, industry, salary and location, or search for keywords. Typically, job advertisements include information on whether the job is open to English-speaking applicants or Chinese-speaking applicants only. Note that most jobs for English speakers are advertised in the economic, financial, real estate and legal sectors.

Among the most prominent job search sites in Hong Kong are:

Other specialised job search sites include:

Native-speaking English teachers might also be interested in the Native-speaking English Teachers (NET) scheme which recruits teachers for primary and secondary schools. To find out more about the application procedure have a look at the Education Bureau guidelines on the NET scheme.  

Certain daily newspapers also publish job advertisements in their print issues and online. Examples of Hong Kong newspapers that feature Career sections are:

Another good option for job seekers in Hong Kong is to turn to recruitment agencies which can help you find suitable jobs and guide you through the entire application process. For a list of accredited employment agencies see the Labour Department’s factsheet.

Finally, make sure to look directly on the websites of companies/organisations that interest you. These will often include a section called Employment or Vacancies, where their present job openings are announced. You might also be interested in having a look at the Randstad list of 75 top companies to work for in Hong Kong.

CVs

First impressions count. Your CV (curriculum vitae) is your introduction to the employer, therefore it is essential to have a strong CV, highlighting your academic qualifications and professional experience.  Although there is no general CV template and different companies have different preferences, there are some core characteristics that all good CVs have in common.

First of all, your CV should be concise. Ideally, a standard non-academic CV in Hong Kong is around 2 pages long.  An academic CV can be longer since it is common to list all publications and conferences attended.

It is also essential that your CV is well-structured. This is easily achieved by dividing the CV into various sections and using subheadings to denote these sections. Typically, CVs in Hong Kong include the following sections: Personal Details, Education, Work Experience, Further Qualifications, IT Skills, Language Skills and Interests. Unless otherwise specified in the job advertisement, your CV does not need to include References. You may, however, include a section on Career Objectives.  

Generally, your personal details should be listed first with your name and surname on top and your contact details (address, telephone number and email) underneath. In Hong Kong, you are not legally required to include your date of birth, nationality or marital status on the CV, therefore these can be left out. It is also not common to include a photograph unless specifically requested.

Sections devoted to education and work experience should be arranged in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent and any gaps should be accounted for. When listing your academic qualifications, make sure to include the dates attended, the name of the educational institution and the study programme, the degree obtained and any relevant focus during your studies. In terms of work experience, remember to indicate the start and end date, job title and name of the company/organisation you worked for. It is also recommendable to include one or two lines about primary responsibilities and achievements in your recent jobs.

Last but not least, make sure that your spelling and grammar are correct, avoid using informal language and explain any abbreviations used. Furthermore, your CV should be written in a positive tone, emphasising strengths and achievements throughout.

Additional information on writing CVs for Hong Kong-based jobs can be found on the Government Website at Job Tips or on the online job portal Jobs DB.

Cover Letters

Employers will typically request a cover letter as part of your job application. Cover letters should be one to two A4-pages long and drawn up as a formal business letter. The purpose of a cover letter is to explain your motivation for applying for the position, how your skills and qualifications match the employer’s requirements and what you will bring to that particular role. When writing cover letters, pay attention to the requirements mentioned in the job advertisement and comment on how you fulfil these. Note that certain employers might also require you to specify your salary expectations in your cover letter.

Interviews

Job interview types in Hong Kong vary from employer to employer. They differ in length, interviewing technique and the size of the panel. Usually they take place in person. However, in recent years telephone and Skype interviews have also become common, in particular if interviewees are located abroad at the time of interview.

Generally, interviewers will first give you the opportunity to introduce yourself, present your motivation and argue why you are a good candidate for the position. Following on from this, employers will ask questions about your previous employment and test how your skills match their requirements. Finally, you will have the opportunity to ask questions about your potential future role. All in all, it is key to show that you understand how the company/organisation operates, what its objectives are, and how you could contribute to its success.

Multinational companies based in Hong Kong as well as large domestic companies often use assessment centres for recruiting purposes. Such assessment centres last a day or two and include a range of tasks, such as presentations, group activities and written tests, to test your suitability for the position.

For more information on interviewing techniques and sample interview questions see the Government Website on Job Hunting Tips or on the online job portal Jobs DB.

Etiquette

When applying for jobs in Hong Kong make sure to use formal language and polite wording throughout the application process. Avoid using slang and colloquial expressions and explain all abbreviations you use. In written applications, short versions such as “don’t” or “isn’t” should be avoided and instead spelled out as “do not” or “is not”.

When attending a job interview, remember that punctuality is key! It is better to arrive a few minutes early than keep your employer waiting. Another important rule is to dress appropriately. Even if the company/organisation does not have a specific dress code it is still advisable to opt for business-wear in discreet colours and avoid using eye-catching jewellery or heavy make-up. Throughout the interview make sure to sit straight and make appropriate eye-contact with the interviewers. Show that you are professional and do not forget that a smile can take you a long way!

Finally, note that it is considered polite to send a thank you email after your interview, in which you should typically reaffirm your interest in the position, state that you are looking forward to hearing from them and that you are available for further information if needed.

 

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