The job market in Hong Kong from the perspective of a final year student

By Ambrose Wong – Associate Consultant, Asset Management, Links International Hong Kong

For most university students who are applying for jobs in Hong Kong, earning the first bucket of money used to be a fantasy.

In recent years, however, it has become a headache, or even worse a nightmare for graduates. Friends of mine have been trying to prolong their academic life by deferring their studies, in order to avoid facing the painful reality of the job search, while some others opt for a working-holiday instead. As for those who ‘unluckily’ graduate, the reality kicks in and they are thrown into a fierce, savage and highly competitive job market where the supply is always greater than the demand.

For final year students, it has become routine to keep sending out CVs and to pick up calls at the first ring with the full expectation that they will be interview calls, only to realize, however, that they are simply marketing calls. It is also part of the routine to prepare for interviews and then receive continuous rejections. In a world where banks and corporations are firing rather than hiring, life has become much tougher for fresh graduates.

I am no expert in this area, nor am I holding a graduate position in an international firm. I am just a final year student who happens to have had a peek into the current job market through working at a recruitment agency in Hong Kong and would like to share some insights.

As a graduate, it is important for us to identify our own edge. Multinational banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan etc., receive tons of applications for their very few openings every year. These corporations have significant bargaining power when it comes to job offers, as they can easily switch to other candidates due to the massive number of applications. Therefore, it is crucial for us as graduates to identify our own uniqueness which makes us stand out from the others. It may be a special talent, or a distinctive experience, but it MUST be something that will impress the interviewer. Such uniqueness varies among candidates, but we ought to think outside the box.

Interviews can be tense and it is common for graduates to recite their own profiles and answers to avoid a loss of words in the process. Please avoid reciting. Hiring managers are not looking for machines with exceptional brain power in memorising phrases and numbers; they are seeking candidates with creativity who can provide logical answers under pressure. The only way to train yourself up in this specific aspect is by exposing yourself to various areas of knowledge through reading books, magazines, newspapers and so on.

Last but not least, do update your LinkedIn profile. Upon receiving applications, the HR staff is likely to screen candidates by checking their LinkedIn profiles. Thus, it will help if your LinkedIn profile provides a detailed description of your past experiences, special talents, qualifications and so on. A comprehensive LinkedIn profile may also attract hiring managers or recruiters to contact you directly for job openings when they see fit.

The job market is inevitably competitive. We can complain about it, but there is not much that we can do to change it. What we can do, however, is better equip ourselves to emerge as winners and beat the competition.

To speak to one of our consultants about how we can help take your career to the next level, please do not hesitate to contact us.