My first 6 months' journey as a Data Recruiter in Hong Kong

20 Feb 8:00 by Paris Herard

After living in Dublin for two amazing years, I knew it’s time for a change, I wanted something more, something bigger, something new and exciting, which is why I came to Hong Kong in August 2019.

Coming off the plane, the first thing that hit me was the heat, it was like seeing your favourite team score their winning goal. I found myself smiling as different feelings rush through me. I was excited to venture into the unknown but a part of me was scared of what it might be. But that is what life should be, it’s too early for me to resort to a boring life back in Marseille (my hometown, located in the South of France).

Being in the city for the second time and having interviewed with a number of recruitment firms, I decided to join Argyll Scott, a well-established and reputable firm. After getting my visa and accommodation sorted, all there’s left was for me to trim my beard and I’d be all set!

First day in the office, after some greetings and chitchats, I quickly realised what the biggest challenge would be. Culture. I’ll have to understand and adapt to it so as to enable myself to deliver quantifiable results in the end. If you’re not familiar with the recruitment industry, you might think it’s a cookie-cutter role that operates the same way anywhere in the world, that it’s just about finding profiles to fill roles. If that’s the case, then you can’t be more wrong.

The recruitment industry is like any other businesses, there are rules and those can be changed or modified depending on the culture. You don’t deal with an HR from Sao Paolo the same way you do with an HR from Osaka. This is what I call a business culture gap. The challenge for me was then to quickly adapt to this new environment and its culture without compromising my own identity.

Taking a closer look at the differences between working as a recruiter in Hong Kong and in Europe, the first thing I’d say would be environment. While I’ve only visited a few recruitment firms in Europe, they are usually very busy, loud and dynamic, to a point where you can even hear your colleagues from another room or floor.

Apart from that, what shocked me the most during my first week as that it’s not all about making phone calls. In Hong Kong, we stay close with candidates and clients through the use of apps like Whatsapp. That’s right, my readers, email communication is considered old-fashioned and only occasionally used in Hong Kong. Here, you can get responses from your candidates within an hour instead of waiting a full two days to arrange interviews with unresponsive people. Wechat is also used when candidates travel to Mainland China.

However, don’t be too naive and believe that the whole recruitment process is smoother and easier. Yes, it can be faster on the candidate side, especially because 80% of them are “open to the market” after one year in the company (even the managers!); relationships with companies/clients are a lot harder to manage. Indeed, you can often find yourself with hiring managers or HRs who don’t want to work with you if they don’t know you personally, regardless if terms are already in place.

Here in Hong Kong, you can be a good recruiter if you have the skills, which takes time for you to accumulate, but most importantly, the core strength would come from your network and reputation. Building trust is key is you if want to stay in the game in the long run. As a recruiter, you cannot afford to make any major business mistakes without risking your reputation being ruined.

Hong Kong remains an amazing and thriving city where working hard is the very least that you can do. As an international hub, business is still there despite political unrest, a not-so-great global economy as well as the recent epidemic. Would you like to know more about what is the current state of Data Science field in the city?

Well I guess, you will have to follow the next article!