3 Things You Didn’t Know About Talent Acquisition in Hong Kong

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Sep 23, 2016
This article is part of a series called Wake-up Call.

Employers from Europe and the Americas provide jobs for over 1.5 Million Hong Kongers, a population of more than 7 Million. We typically follows the cycle of more mature regions; disruption is needed here.

The biggest mistake made by international employers is failing to completely localize their Asian recruiting strategies. It’s a very different animal here. Without further ado, here are three things you may not have known about talent acquisiton in our part of the world.

Agency Recruitment Lives On

Human resources departments in Hong Kong have been experiencing increased pressure to control recruiting costs, and over the past two years we have seen numerous employers create standalone recruitment roles and departments for their businesses. Unfortunately for many HR departments, the end of agency recruitment isn’t about to come anytime soon.

Currently over 40 percent of the talent in Hong Kong’s job market have recruitment companies as their first choice as a channel for exploring new opportunities. That’s because it’s convenient. Outsourcing reigns supreme in the city.

What Candidate Experience?

Candidate experience is hotly discussed at the moment in the city, but still has a long way to improve. Hong Kong’s recruiting infrastructure is noisy and congested. The biggest worry that hasn’t been realized yet for companies here is candidate churn before they hit an employer’s recruitment funnel and throughout the process.

Job descriptions here don’t tell candidates what they want to see, and whenever something takes more than 10 minutes to read people inevitably struggle. The guiltiest of parties are the large, international employers who for a long time have relied on their positioning as a multinational to attract talent. These lackluster efforts are doomed to fail.

Applicant tracking systems have made some strides to improving returns for their clients, but none have made any progress delivering a better candidate experience. Anytime you ask a candidate to upload a CV and then ask them to fill out that same information on the next page you are going to churn out lots of your prospects.

Interviews in Hong Kong are still positioned as “screening sessions, not dreaming sessions.” The typical first interview in Hong Kong will ask candidates to recite their CV and account for their movement between employers in the past.

Hong Kong’s hiring market in the professional sectors is fast, and the city boasts one of the highest rates of staff attrition globally. Employers have for a long time needed to scale out their hiring capabilities to match the levels of turnover and what has resulted is interviews which are driven by too much process while lacking any personality.

Not enough internal recruiters in Hong Kong are positioned as marketers and sellers to match Hong Kong’s candidate-driven market.

What Is “Social” Over There Isn’t Here

Social recruiting in Hong Kong is still in the process of being figured out. Generating referrals from more personal platforms such as Facebook remains an unsolved puzzle. Most in the city keep work and their social network separate, and a majority of people don’t list their current place of work on Facebook.

LinkedIn has solved many problems with hiring in Hong Kong, but it struggles with poor engagement. Anonymity around one’s career situation is valued globally and in Hong Kong even more so, resulting in a large wasteland of unfinished and out-of-date profiles.

Hong Kong’s talent acquisition scene is a blue ocean with sourcing technologies ripe for disruption. The personalization and localization of the candidate experience has only just begun (and only by a few). Talent acquisition here is experiencing an exciting period, employers now know they need to take it seriously, invest, or risk falling short and shutting up the shop. 

This article is part of a series called Wake-up Call.
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