Jobs in Hong Kong

Opportunities for foreigners

Hong Kong has attracted foreigners for many decades. Low tax, stable government and its geographic location have made Hong Kong home to many international companies. There are still many work opportunities for expatriates, but the job market has become tighter in recent years due to increased work permit regulations and competition from local and mainland Chinese employees.

Allaying fears of negative effects of Hong Kong’s return to China, the economic boom on the ‘mainland’ has spilt over to Hong Kong; pushing up rents, boosting construction and the stock market.

Things are not as easy in the job market for expatriates as they used to be. Previously foreign workers walked straight into jobs and often didn’t need a visa to work. Today, companies have to prove that the job cannot be filled out by a local employee and obtain an employment visa for their foreign employees. This administrative hassle tends to be avoided by most companies if they can find a local employee.

Another source of employees has been opened up as the government launched a talent scheme to allow people from the mainland China with specific experience or work experience in other countries to work in Hong Kong. Expatriates are today facing increasing competition from Chinese applicants. Native language speakers have an advantage as language skills are increasingly important as commerce with mainland China grows.

Increasing competition has also had affected compensation. In the past, expats in Hong Kong received a range of perks and benefits, many now just get a basic salary. Some companies, especially investment banks, still offer generous packages that include medical insurance, accommodation, paid annual holidays to the home country and private education for children. Others perks include luxury apartments, a car and driver, entertainment allowances and club membership. Today, most of these deals are restricted for short assignments or very senior positions. In many circumstances, you will be offered a local package that often does not include housing, medical insurance, education or annual home leave.

Job opportunities for expats in Hong Kong

Job opportunities for foreigners in Hong Kong range from junior, through medium to high-end executive positions. The increase in the local talent pool does mean that it is tougher to get jobs at the lower end of the scale. The main sectors of work for expats are finance, accountancy, sales and marketing, IT, human resources, legal, telecommunications, logistics and engineering.

To be competitive in the job market, expats looking to work in Hong Kong should be able to demonstrate a high degree of professionalism, experience and specialist knowledge. If not, it may be hard to find a position that cannot be filled by a Chinese employee. Language is another important requirement: most jobs require either Cantonese or Mandarin, or both, as well as English. It is an advantage to have a degree from a well-ranked university, as this is highly regarded in Hong Kong.

Further reading

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