Hong Kong — Shahrzad Moaven quit a public relations job in London and moved to this teeming metropolis four months ago to take up what she saw as a more exciting post: communications director at the exclusive jeweler Carnet.
Jan Mezlik, 29, moved here from the Czech Republic in late April for a job as a trainer in a physical therapy studio called Stretch. For him, the move brought a secure job and the chance to learn to become a yoga instructor.
Charlotte Sumner, a lawyer, arrived eight months ago, thanks to a transfer within her firm. She had spent six months in London and another six in Moscow and had jumped at the chance of a stint in Asia, which she felt would lead to more opportunities than a posting elsewhere.
Before the global financial crisis, none of the three had thought seriously about moving to Asia. But growth in China, India, South Korea and many other countries in the region is outpacing that of Europe and the United States. Many local companies are enjoying rapid expansion, while international employers are shifting positions to Asia and are hiring again. So increasingly, European and American job seekers are hoping that Asia is a place where opportunities match their ambitions…
Landing a position in Asia, though, is not just a matter of being willing to make a new life halfway around the world. Many employers prefer candidates who have track records in the region and who bring language skills and local contacts to the job.
Mike Game, chief executive in Asia for Hudson, an international recruitment agency, said the number of Westerners actually making the move was still fairly small. Many employers, he said, are more demanding than they were during the economic peak of 2007 and are “setting the bar very high in terms of what they want.”
Nevertheless, many Westerners seem to be looking to make the move…
Local language skills are a plus — and often a must — for anything China-related…
“Employers don’t want to have to do a lot of baby-sitting and training,” said Matthew Hoyle, who runs his own company, which specializes in hiring senior staff members for banks and hedge funds. “There are plenty of local people with good qualifications who speak Mandarin and Cantonese — you’d have to bring something pretty special to the table to top that.”
I recall watching a tech panel on TV a while back – when the CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, mentioned he was pushing his grandkids to learn to speak Chinese.
Go East, young man – and young woman, Go East.