Justin Leung is director of Ambition.
Settling for second best won’t jump-start your job hunt in Hong Kong
I’m an architectural designer who has been unemployed for several months now and I’m beginning to feel frustrated. I have had several interviews, and a few second interviews, but have not got any further. In the past I’ve never had trouble getting jobs, but I’ve usually been employed at the time. I recently heard that unemployed jobseekers are less likely to be successful in getting jobs than those who are employed, so I’m wondering if I should just apply for positions that I’m less interested in and then look for something more suitable when I’ve returned to the workforce. Is this is a good strategy?
Let me assure you that you are not alone. Uncertainties about the current economy in Hong Kong, and indeed the global economy, have led to added caution when it comes to employers making hiring decisions, causing considerable frustrations for many jobseekers.
Contrary to common belief, unemployed jobseekers are often more appealing to employers. Contractually, notice periods usually range from one to three months and, if you include the length of a typical interview process, a position can often be available for six months or more before a suitable candidate is able to step into the role.
As a result, employers prefer to hire candidates with a shorter notice period or – ideally – someone who is immediately available.
However, if you are unemployed for an extended period of time (such as six months or more), it may raise some questions on the employer’s end. That being said, if there is a reasonable justification for a candidate’s prolonged absence from the job market – such as further education or volunteering – it should not have an impact on his or her ability to secure a job offer.
Taking on a position that you are less interested in may address your short-term need for income and add to your résumé, but it doesn’t necessarily improve your job-hunting prospects.
If possible, I always encourage jobseekers to join an organisation only if they are passionate about the opportunity being offered. It is difficult to enjoy your work and perform well when you have little or no interest in your job. It yields no benefits to you, nor the employer, and it often leads to an undesirable outcome for both parties.
If you perform poorly or leave the role after a short period of time, you risk leaving a bad impression on your colleagues and superiors, which may affect your career in the future.
Since you have been actively interviewing without much success, you may want to consider short-term contracts, temporary positions or volunteer work – preferably in an area that relates to your career.
This could add value to your résumé while offering flexibility, and potentially an income, while you seek your next role.
This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Settling for second best won’t jump-start a job hunt.