With an impressively strong economy, a high volume of job opportunities, and fast-track career opportunities, Hong Kong is looking like an excellent place to carve out a career. These favourable conditions in the Hong Kong economy are helping to catch the eye of one large group in particular: Hong Kongers who are studying, working and living abroad. They are returning home for various reasons, but strong job opportunities and economic growth surely help with the transition.

Straight from the PageGroup office in Hong Kong, here are some insights on what these professionals can expect when they return home, what the hiring market is like overall, and whether the opportunities in Hong Kong are really as good as they seem.

High interest in returnees

Many companies in Hong Kong favour overseas graduates, especially for jobs within the finance function. Multinational firms and financial services firms in particular are looking for skill sets and experience developed abroad.

In many cases, simply an overseas education is a draw for major companies looking to fill junior to mid-level roles. As Natalie Lau, Managing Consultant at Page Personnel Hong Kong points out, “The top three advantages of overseas-educated graduates lie in their international perspective, foreign language and cross-culture communication skills.”

In general, companies prefer to hire those who have lived, worked or studied in areas where they are either based or do business. For example, Chinese firms tend to prefer returnees from China, while foreign firms prefer Western returnees. However, in the end, these things are only a bonus - the real deciding factors are the professionals themselves, how the interview goes and how they fit into the company culture.

Lau says, “A background of working or studying overseas can help them get an interview easier, but if they want the job, it’s really up to performance in the interview.”

Challenges facing returnees at home

When returning home, there are certainly going to be challenges of all kinds. From a professional standpoint, the biggest challenge can be getting up to speed with changes in the Hong Kong market – and convincing prospective employers that they are able to keep up.

While searching for jobs, Lau has observed that “some overseas returnees saw a lack of adaptation to Chinese society and market environment as disadvantages at the beginning of a job search.” Returnees may lack knowledge about employer’s demands in Hong Kong and what is expected in the work environment. However, this challenge can be quickly rectified with some market research and seeking out resources and people that can provide a background on the local market and help guide their career direction.

These challenges are not insurmountable, and in many cases, they are far outweighed by the advantages in coming back.

Advantages for those coming home

Returnees usually have highly developed soft skill sets that are a major advantage in the Hong Kong workplace. These include having an international perspective, being confident in foreign languages and excelling in cross-culture communication. As Lau explains, “Returnees can be a bridge between senior management who are expats and local operations staff due to their multi-culture mix and background.”

Generally, we have seen that professionals with this background can command higher basic salaries, if they clearly stand out from the other candidates due to their experiences abroad.

The advantage of contracting for returnees

Contract or short-term roles within companies can be an ideal solution for returnees who are just getting started in the market again. Because many contract roles can lead to full time roles, they are being seen as real positives, allowing returnees to try out the market and work with an employer before settling into a long-term, permanent position. Contracting gives that extra bit of flexibility to those who returning to the market, to adapt to the pace of Hong Kong again.  

Demand is growing

Both the advantages and disadvantages to Hong Kong returnees are clear. Because of the overall business landscape, the demand for those with an international perspective is naturally growing. As Lau says, “The workforce is becoming more sophisticated and the quality of professionals in Hong Kong is getting higher. As competition grows in various sectors, including finance and banking, returnees will see they are more and more in demand.”

Hong Kong is still home

With its challenges and triumphs, returning home after some time abroad is full of ups and downs. However, Hong Kong is a strong economy, an important part of the Asian and global markets and fast-paced with plenty of career opportunities. And with everything, no matter how the return experience is, Hong Kong is always home for these professionals.

If you're overseas, looking to return home to work, we would like to talk to you. We understand your needs as a returning talent and can facilitate a successful match with Hong Kong’s biggest brands across growth industries. Get in touch 

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