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Should I Stay or Should I Go: When is the Best Time to Change Jobs?

There is no easy answer in taking the decision to change jobs and often your decision will be influenced by a number of factors. However, one of the key factors affecting your ability to change jobs will be the current market conditions and availability of jobs in your sector. In the construction industry availability of jobs usually stems from new major project awards, and this is certainly true of the construction jobs market in Hong Kong. Let’s take a closer look at the availability and job prospects for the different types of jobs seekers in Hong Kong.

Broadly speaking we usually see 2 types of jobseekers in Hong Kong: EXPATRIATES and LOCAL CANTONESE HONG KONG RESIDENTS

EXPATRIATES

Ever since the construction of the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok in the 1990s Hong Kong has provided excellent job opportunities for expatriate construction professionals, and many of those people who came to Hong Kong in the 1990s remain here today. So how does today’s job market in Hong Kong for expatriates compare to the boom period in the 90s.

Over the past 6-12 months Hong Kong has seen a decrease in the number of job opportunities for construction professional, particularly in the case of expatriates. This could be due to a lack of confidence in the market associated with a lack of recent major project awards and significant delays to landmark projects such as the Express Rail Link (XRL) to China. During a period reduced market activity companies will often seek to reduce the number of expatriate staff who can be seen as a bigger risk/expense than employing a local Hong Kong resident, this is particularly true of an expatriate moving to Hong Kong for the first time who has never experienced the working culture and living environment.

However, the outlook for expatriates already living and working in Hong Kong is slightly different. Companies are much more likely to consider expatriates living and working in Hong Kong than those coming from overseas. There is usually reluctance by local companies to interview candidates remotely via Skype/Telephone and they often see going through the process of visa applications as an unnecessary risk and expense when hiring someone. Therefore expatriates already working in Hong Kong have a significant advantage in being able to attend face to face interviews and already having a working visa which can be easily transferred.

Whilst expatriate job opportunities in Hong Kong may be harder to obtain in the current market we remain optimistic that with the award of new major projects in the years to come such as the Hong Kong International Airport 3rd runway that the long term outlook is positive and Hong Kong will remain a leading jobs market for expatriate construction professionals.

LOCAL CANTONESE HONG KONG RESIDENTS

The job market for local Cantonese Hong Kong residents’ remains strong, with opportunities available with both contracting and consultancy companies. In previous years civil engineering project experience has been in high demand, however more recently we have seen high demand in building, fit-out and E&M sectors.

As some companies may be seeking to reduce the number of expatriate workers, the market for local Hong Kong Cantonese speaking qualified Quantity Surveyors, Commercial Managers, Engineers, Construction Managers and other construction professionals remains strong.

OUTLOOK

Although Hong Kong may be going through a relatively quiet period in terms new major project awards there is still a significant number of ongoing large scale construction projects which require skilled construction professionals. If you’re an expatriate or local Hong Kong resident and would like to learn more about the job opportunities available at the moment please get in touch and we’d be happy to discuss if this is right time to look for your next job opportunity.

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Tim Cole
Senior Recruitment Consultant – Hong Kong & Asia

 

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