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Foreigners seeking HK jobs need unique skills

Published on Friday, 05 Oct 2012
Christopher Aukland

I'm an Indian who can only speak English and Hindi. For the past 10 years, I have been living in Australia and New Zealand. I gained some experience in the hospitality industry, but at a fairly low grade, as I was not only working but also travelling in these two countries.

Now I am 33 years old and I think it's time for me to settle down. I don't have any managerial experience and only basic restaurant and hotel experience. I'm ready to develop my career and willing to start with any job, and in particular I'm looking for hospitality jobs in Hong Kong. Please give me some detailed advice on job hunting, CV preparation as per the Hong Kong market, and any other tips which you think are suitable. vj

As a foreigner, trying to find work in Hong Kong can be very challenging due to a variety of factors.

First of all, if you are not a resident of Hong Kong, you will require a company to sponsor you for a work permit. Unless you have specific experience in the sector you are looking to enter, this will be difficult. You will need to demonstrate you have professional experience and skills that are not readily available in the local market.

Cantonese and Putonghua language skills are also common requirements for a lot of roles in Hong Kong and, if you are not physically based in the country to attend interviews, my view is that it will be extremely difficult to find a position.

My suggestions are to first of all explore the issues surrounding a working visa and then, if you are not already based in Hong Kong, consider visiting for an extended period to give you a better chance of success with your job hunting.

Once in Hong Kong, you will need to leverage your experience and skills. If your skills are in the hospitality sector, you can research major hotel chains and hospitality groups, as they all generally recruit directly through the media, by referral and direct applications.

You can also visit local online job boards such as and - both of which fall under the umbrella of the South China Morning Post Group - as well as use social media channels to keep on top of job opportunities.

Another way many foreigners arrive in Hong Kong for work is by joining a company overseas and then transferring with that company to Asia. Depending on your circumstances, this may be an option for you.

Christopher Aukland is regional director of Michael Page International and Page Personnel (a subsidiary of Michael Page International) in Hong Kong. Michael Page International is one of the world’s leading recruitment companies operating in 164 offices in 34 countries worldwide.

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