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Local talent tops the shortlist: Hong Kong follows Singapore in its preference for locals to fill jobs

Updated: 02 Jun 2014

More foreigners are expected to consider job opportunities in Hong Kong, but local employers prefer to hire local candidates, says recruiting experts Hays in Hong Kong.

“Singapore has a very strict policy when it comes to hiring foreigners, which has seen more interest from overseas candidates in Hong Kong jobs,” says Marc Burrage, Regional Director of Hays in Hong Kong.

“But it’s now also very difficult for foreign candidates to gain work here in Hong Kong, particularly when they are looking to move to the region and not based here. Employers have a strong preference for local candidates who are on the ground and who have Chinese, especially Mandarin, language skills and PRC experience.

“They are wary of a candidate who has yet to commit to living in Hong Kong because they could decide not to relocate after all. The logistics involved in terms of securing a valid work visa also puts some employers off.

“The Hong Kong government also advocates that local candidates must be considered first, with the exception being highly skilled candidates who are in short supply locally.

“Our advice to expats looking for a job in Hong Kong is to base yourself here, or at least fly out to meet with recruiters and employers. If you meet people face-to-face it shows you are committed to the move and you can explain your motivations for moving in person,” says Marc.

Hong Kong’s legal sector is just one example where local hires are preferred. “China and Hong Kong experienced and Chinese-speaking Lawyers are increasingly preferred over foreign and foreign-sourced Lawyers,” says Marc.

“The exception is areas where skills are in short supply locally, such as US capital markets and US securities legal practices, and certain specialist areas within banking & finance.

“And while a high number of senior lawyers and practice heads at law firms, as well as senior regional counsels at multinational and large financial institutions, are expatriate hires this will change in the years ahead as a growing number of local lawyers take up partner and senior legal counsel positions.

This movement towards local Chinese-speaking lawyers will continue, particularly since as a former British Common Law jurisdiction, there are thousands of well-educated, superbly qualified and roundly experienced lawyers locally available.

Hays is located in Hong Kong at Unit 5803-7, The Centre, 99 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong.

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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