Kelvin Chong is a manager in the transactional services division at Robert Walters in Hong Kong.
I hate my engineering job and am thinking about leaving. Although I like the industry, I’m not happy at my firm. I have an opportunity in another country, with the same industry and in a similar role, but am one year from getting permanent residency in Hong Kong. Should I wait for permanent residency before making a career move? Or take the position and return to Hong Kong in a year or two, when I’m ready to join another company?
It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to work abroad. However, before you make your final decision, think about your priorities — and your motivation for switching careers. Is it more important for you to switch firms, or to move to a different country?
It sounds to me as though you are simply not happy with your current firm, as opposed to the industry itself. Examine the reasons you have for wanting to leave your position before setting your agenda and beginning the job search. There are plenty of common reasons why people leave companies, such as unpleasant corporate restructuring, lack of career development, long working hours, and insufficient salaries. These problems may be solved by a lateral move to a similar role in a different company.
Similarly, it is important to work out the cost of living and industry prospects in the other country before deciding whether the opportunities available justify the costs involved.
In addition, it would be a good idea for you to start looking at other engineering jobs in Hong Kong. It doesn’t do any harm for you to analyse the market and learn about other practices and opportunities.
There is a constant shortage of good engineers in Hong Kong, as the city is in close proximity to China and a preferred gateway for businesses entering the mainland market. You might be surprised by the opportunities available once you start looking.
Last but not least, you need to think about your long-term goals before considering a move out of the SAR. If you want to stay in Hong Kong for the long run, getting permanent residency will be a definite advantage. Local permanent residents have more options when it comes to job-hunting, as there is no need to apply for a visa. Should you return to Hong Kong after a stint abroad, job-hunting will be more tricky and may limit your choices. Crucially, the six years you have already worked in the SAR will no longer count towards your residency application, and you will have to serve a further seven consecutive years.
Residency also allows professionals in many industries and roles to gain international exposure while retaining the right to live in Hong Kong.
Should you choose to stay in Hong Kong, I am confident that there will be many good opportunities available, as you gain further experience in your current role.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Permanent residency is a door to opportunity for engineers.