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The Classified Post Career Forum and Hackathon attracted a global array of talented young job seekers

Published on Saturday, 02 Nov 2019

The graduate recruitment market is a key source of talent for employers who are hungry for new ideas and perspectives which will make a positive impact on their business. Over 12 editions, the Classified Post Career Forum has established itself as the most effective place for graduates and students to meet prospective employers. Held on October 12, the 12th edition occupied the entire space of the conference hall on the fourth floor of the Hong Kong Productivity Council headquarters in Kowloon Tong.

The event attracted senior university graduates as well as local and overseas students and graduates. Year One and Two university students who were curious about recruitment and employment trends also attended. Attendees mainly came from Hong Kong and China, with a strong showing from South Korea and India.

With more than 3,000 jobs up for grabs, the Forum offered a wide range of opportunities. Exhibitors included those from insurance, consultancy, logistics, real estate, government, finance, and telecommunications. Employers offered graduate trainee (GT) and summer internship programmes, as well as full-time jobs.

First-time exhibitor China Unicom Global said the Forum was a good opportunity to build brand awareness and promote its GT programme. Non-profits also found it useful, and Orbis screened student ambassador videos to recruit volunteers.

Traffic was busy. Confident participants hopped around different booths to gather information and have informal discussions with exhibitors. Proactive companies deployed staffers to interact with those students who seemed overawed by the size of the Forum.  

The highlight of the Forum was the Topical Seminar, during which industry experts and business leaders gathered on stage to exchange new ideas. Some even lifted the curtain on how they had become so successful. Stan Group said it sought talent with passion, noting that it was looking for future employees who could bring change, present challenging ideas and — most importantly — make them happen. AlphaSights lit-up the floor with a brief introduction to its business background and unique modus operandi. UA Finance shared details of the company’s in-depth staff training, its many perks, and the nature of the jobs it was offering.

A CV plays a pivotal role in attracting the attention of employers, and the popular one-on-one CV-enhancing consultation services almost stole the show. There were long queues for these services throughout the exhibition. Each participant spent five to 10 minutes listening to professional consultants who pointed out common mistakes in CVs, like unnecessary length, lack of focus, unclear categorisation of items, and inconsistent font sizes on the printed versions.

The 24-hour Classified Post Hackathon simultaneously staged an informative briefing about the contest. Representatives from Hong Kong Telecom (HKT), the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park (HKSTP) and Hong Kong Polytechnic (PolyU) explained how listeners could upgrade their pitches and smarten-up their presentations. The floor was packed with enthusiastic contestants from a diverse range of countries, including India, Kazakhstan, France, and South Korea, while the majority were from Hong Kong and China. On October 18 to 19, all were required to build winning digital solutions for HKT on the topic of Smart Living, based on data provided by HKSTP’s Data Studio.

The Middle Way

AlphaSights differs to most consultancies because it does not advise its clients directly. Instead, it plays the role of a middleman and connects clients to experts who have the knowledge that they need. The 11-year-old company, which has its headquarters in the UK, has made a name for itself by connecting highly qualified experts with clients for one-on-one conversations. Armed with the insights gained from these conversations, clients can outthink the competition, generate new ideas, and make smarter and faster decisions.

AlphaSights has 700 staff working in nine different locations including the UK, the US and Asia. The company launched in Hong Kong four years ago, and is hiring graduates for full-time client services associate positions, as well as promoting a summer intern programme for 2020. According to Carrie Lam, recruitment lead at AlphaSights, client services associates perform a valuable project management role. Their main task is to manage different projects and make sure they close the deal, Lam said during a presentation at the Classified Post Career Forum.

Associates learn how to fully comprehend what clients need to know before they search for the right expert. A typical day for an associate involves being assigned a relevant project in the morning. In the afternoon, the associate will discuss the project with the client and work out the best way to find the information they need. This is followed by a meeting in the evening with the manger to discuss strategy and ask questions, before connecting the client with the expert. Projects are varied, and have included helping the UAE Olympic National Committee work out what needed to be provided for Dubai to apply to host the 2024 Olympic Games.

“We work with top-tier clients like top-ten private equity funds and consultancy firms, including a management consultancy and a strategic consultancy,” Lam said. “We help them find experts to formulate solutions for their end clients. Our projects span nearly every industry, and include aviation, energy, construction and pharmacy. Our diverse range of clients means that we are always informed about hot topics like Artificial Intelligence, Bitcoin, Big Data and Blockchain,” said Lam.  

Job candidates must be very flexible, must have a broad range of knowledge, and possess an ability to understand different issues very quickly, Lam said. AlphaSights’ training programme can last for six months for new employees, and the pass rate is restricted to five percent to ensure that only the most dedicated applicants are selected. After a two-year stint as an associate, workers can apply for a managerial position, or take advantage of options like the company’s 18-month Global Associate Programme, which entitles them to work in an AlphaSights overseas office.

“Our company has a flat hierarchy and culture, and you may find the vice president sitting beside you,” said Lam. “We encourage feedback, and our 360-degree communication arrangements work both ways, up and down. We are a diverse group with a strong team base, and we have a monthly team event. Every year, our Asia office staffers go away for a week, and our last visit was to Osaka in Japan. We also want to give back to society, so we have a team of people dedicated to helping non-profit organisations for free,” Lam said. 

Balancing Act

United Asia Finance made its Classified Post Career Forum debut with the aim of building its brand and making attendees aware of what of job opportunities and staff benefits it can offer them. The ambitious company had a booth to meet young university students and graduates, and gave a 10-minute presentation in the Topical Seminar.

Max Mak, the company’s training specialist, explained that his role was to focus on learning and development. He also talked about how customers discovered the company, noting that they often learned about it from TV advertisements about personal loan services. “People need to know more about us, so we are thankful for the opportunity to present at the Career Forum and tell attendees about the careers we offer,” said Mak. “We are looking for new graduates, and openings with the company range from graduate trainee (GT) for our branch operations, programmer/analyst programmer (fintech), customer service associates, associates/assistant for electronic credit, and debt collection at our operation centres,” he said.

“Some Year One and Year Two students inquired about our internship programme, and we told them to contact us later because our part-time internship programme takes place in summer with an intake of only around six to 10 interns,” Mak added. “On the brighter side, our GT programme 2019 started in September, and that has become a key source for new employees. I was delighted to see many Year Three and Year Four students drop by to learn more about our jobs. That was a great way to build our brand,” he said.

Mak unveiled many lesser-known facets of the company during the seminar. Apart from describing its 26-year ‘Customer First’ business model, which is committed to providing the most caring personal loan service to its customers, Mak also outlined the company’s solid foundation in Hong Kong. It has 49 branches throughout the city, nine of which stay open on Sundays to serve the Filipino market. Over 600 staff work in the city, and its fully owned United Asia Finance specialisation for SMEs and private loans now employs 1,700 staff in 15 cities.

“Training is a key focus for us, and that’s why we allocate resources to boost staff skillsets by means of regular training about services and product knowledge,” said Mak. “It’s vital to ensure that staff possess the know-how to meet the industry trends of the future. That’s why we fund individual staff members who want to pursue further studies, which include attending seminars and taking annual courses. Moreover, our coaching programme is led by senior executives who help staff members resolve problems collectively. Other plus factors for our staff include wedding leave and volunteer leave,” he said.

UA Finance believes that its people are a key asset, and it encourages a work/life balance with big and small initiatives. There are staff outings, and a wellness programme to help staff relax. The company also encourages staff to develop better physical and psychological skills.

The company has made a commitment to give back to society with the UA volunteer team, which partners with charity organisations to stage events and help people in need. Even here, it makes sure it creates a safe and comfortable work environment for its staff, and ensures they are treated fairly. 

Choosing the Best

The 12th Edition of the Classified Post Career Forum certainly attracted a wide range of attendees. Local and overseas graduates, and final-year university students attended, as well as mature job seekers. All were keen to take the pulse of the job market by discussing recent developments with exhibiting companies, and many took advantage of the on-site CV doctors.

Guangxi-born Zoey Zhong is a third-year Human Resources (HR) Management student at Hong Kong Baptist University. This was her first visit to the Career Forum, and she decided to attend after a strong recommendation from her lecturer.  

“I’m looking for an internship in the finance sector, and as some CV doctors were on site to offer free advice to participants, I prepared mine for a professional review. I was looking for advice on the format and overall presentation of my CV. So far feedback has been quite positive, and I was advised to beef-up the contents with a short personal profile to catch the attention of employers,” Zoey said.

“Exhibitors had an enthusiastic attitude, and they spent a lot of time talking to us. Many insurance companies were there to hunt for new and potential recruits, and I noticed that job seekers with a good command of Mandarin had an immediate advantage,” Zoey said.

Kelly Leung is a Year Four student in Business Intelligence at the Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK). Kelly attended the event for the first time after reading an invitation on the campus noticeboard. Kelly is interested in accounting and the banking sector. “But I remain open to the various types of industries and career opportunities on offer here,” she said. “Most importantly, I would like to enhance my CV and prepare for job applications after graduation.”

William Li achieved his masters in the UK, where he has also attended job fairs. “Finance and accounting are my desired jobs, and I had discussions with companies like Sun Life Hong Kong and Grant Thornton Hong Kong,” he said. The CV doctor session proved useful, despite a long queue: “The ‘doctors’ were very helpful and spent several minutes going through my CV. They made some constructive suggestions, and said I should add a brief description to my list of career goals, and rearrange some items based on their relative importance,” William said.

Veronica Leung, who recently graduated in psychology in the UK, has been living overseas for more than seven years. Veronica said she wanted to find more information about the job market in Hong Kong. “When I approached company booths like AIA International, AlphaSights, and Manulife (International), I was surrounded by zealous staff who detailed what career prospects were on offer, and told me about the nature of the job involved. I asked them how my academic background could work in a human resources job,” Veronica said. A seminar on innovation by Mark Sims, executive vice president of Stan Group Ventures, was also inspiring. “As a new graduate without much work experience, I treasured this occasion,” Veronica said.

Eddie Hong completed his masters in Multi-media and Entertainment Technology at Polytechnic University (PolyU) last August. Originally a full-time graphic designer, Eddie is keen to try something new. Eddie attended the event to gain information about the job market, and to seek advice from the CV doctors. “It was a productive visit, as my CV was totally revamped. The CV doctor taught me how to write an effective CV, and provided a template by reshuffling the contents to make an impactful sequence. My original version was quite lengthy because it listed my previous work experience, software skills, and awards in no particular order,” Eddie said.

Forward-looking junior university students also attended the forum. Guangzhou-born Vanilla Ng has just started a double degree in Business Management and Psychology, and attended the forum to learn more about the Hong Kong job market, so she could plan ahead. Likewise, first-year OUHK student Berry Yan wants to develop a better understanding of what employers are looking for, so she can begin to prepare her skill sets. “My ultimate goal is to develop my career in Hong Kong,” she explains.

Ava Lee, a Year Two student at the Hong Kong Community College who specialises in Hospitality Management, said she was mainly looking for information about future employers. “I’m looking to see what’s new,” she said. “For instance, I had not heard about AlphaSights before, and their seminar told us what the company does, and the kind of talent it looks for.” Ava also found United Asia Finance of interest: “The company representative shed more light the kind of hires they make at a lower entry level. Some of their staff benefits were new to me, so I learned some quite useful things,” Ava said. 

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