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Preferred Cantonese/Mandarin in Job Postings - still worth applying?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Preferred Cantonese/Mandarin in Job Postings - still worth applying?

    Greetings -

    My fiance recently got a transfer to HK and we are in the process of moving and I am on the job hunt. For context, I am wrapping up my MBA at a top-tier US university and have about 9 years in consultative sales experience, specifically in the technology insight sector. I am targeting management consulting roles as well as sales management in my past industry BUT so many of the postings have a Cantonese/Mandarin language listed as either a requirement or advantage. I got fairly far with one company already (who btw didn't have Chinese listed as a requirement) but was told that language would be an issue so they are pursuing other candidates.

    My question is - when Chinese is listed as a preference by the employer, is it even worth applying? What about if it's listed as a requirement? I would imagine for the former they are more flexible but in others' experiences, is it even worth my time applying for those positions?

    Thanks in advance for everyone's insight, can't wait to start our new chapter together in HK!


  2. #2

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    the technology insight sector
    Do you mean Gartner / IDG type outfits? I'd assume this sector would need local language skills to cover the local / China region companies.

    There is a small niche - in regional roles which cover global clients in the tech sector. However, an increasing number of bi and tri lingual candidates are available and you're competing with them.

    In my experience, the more niche your job the less likely you're going to encounter language issues (and fewer jobs) OR if you're transferred over from the US/UK wherever for a specific role.
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  3. #3

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    Gartner/IDG-esque yes, that is the industry I'm referring to, albeit from a smaller boutique consultancy.

    So it sounds like it's not worth applying unless it is niche and directly aligned to my background and I can really differentiate from others.

    Or, use my MBA to career change into something that is less client-facing, perhaps on the analytics side. Luckily my experience is broad enough I can pitch transferrable skills to lots of other roles, and use my MBA as a bolster.

    Any industries/roles in particular you are finding in particular need where language will not be an issue? Appreciate any further insight you can provide.


  4. #4

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    When Chinese is listed as a preference, there will be two types of people they may consider, people with the right to work in HK without Chinese language and people without both the right to work in HK and Chinese language. Which type they prefer? You will have to guess or know the people working there or applied before. Listed as a requirement, don't apply.


  5. #5

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    Any industries/roles in particular you are finding in particular need where language will not be an issue? Appreciate any further insight you can provide.
    Get married and you'll find a lot more roles opening up for you as a dependent who can work without any further sponsorship.
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  6. #6

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    Mar 2016
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    Companies with a foreign background are what you should be looking for. And they are where most expats earning good money working at in HK.

    Quote Originally Posted by devilishprude
    Any industries/roles in particular you are finding in particular need where language will not be an issue? Appreciate any further insight you can provide.

  7. #7

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    May 2019
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    Marriage is certainly an option, we're planning for early next year but could pull it forward if need be. I don't think that really solves my underlying problem though of not speaking the language. FWIW I haven't gotten much push back on visa sponsorship, it's really just been on language skills.