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Working overseas Q&A: Alton Chin, Researcher, Hong Kong

17 May 2016


Working overseas: What’s it like to work for Oliver James Associates Hong Kong?

Q&A: Alton Chin, Researcher, Oliver James Associates

Originally from Canada, Alton Chin moved to Hong Kong in September 2015 and joined Oliver James Associates as a Researcher.

What motivated you to seek employment overseas?

My main motivation was due to personal reasons. I was in a long distance relationship with my now wife and we decided on Hong Kong as a place to settle because it was in between both our locations. I had always been fascinated by living and working in Hong Kong so the move really appealed to me.

What attracted you to Hong Kong in particular?

The culture. However, one of my initial concerns about moving overseas was whether it would be challenging to connect with a different culture and language. When I spoke to my connections in Asia about Hong Kong and experienced the city for myself, I realised that it was so easy to embrace the culture here and as English is widely spoken, there are no language barriers at all.

How did you come across your role at Oliver James Associates?

I was very open to different recruitment roles and actually interviewed with several different recruitment firms. However, it was Oliver James Associates that stood out to me during the interview process. The brilliant training function provides you with a solid foundation of knowledge and expertise which improves consistently throughout your time with OJ. The working culture and office environment also appealed to me; it’s an intimate, family-style environment where everyone is supporting and encouraging on both a professional and personal level.

What were the main challenges you faced when moving to Hong Kong?

The main challenges for me were the culture and language; it’s very different to Toronto but in a positive way. It’s a much faster pace of life, which I like as there are always new opportunities available to you. There are also so many places to explore so I’d suggest familiarising yourself with the geography of Hong Kong when you arrive.

What were the main differences you found working in Hong Kong compared to Canada?

I had started a small telecoms business in Toronto so was working very closely with my partners. The industry and environment was different compared to my working life now. Moving into recruitment meant essentially starting all over again in terms of networking and making solid connections but it’s an exciting, prosperous industry and I'm really enjoying it.

How can people considering a move to Hong Kong familiarise themselves with the working culture in Asia to ensure they’re prepared when interviewing?

There’s no denying that the working culture is tough with plenty of competition. You need to be prepared for long working hours if you want to succeed. Be sure to keep an open mind as the culture, people and life here is fantastic and something that you need to experience for yourself rather than relying on research.

What’s the best thing about working for Oliver James Associates Hong Kong?

The senior leadership team - Jonny and Toby. They’re excellent role models, living and breathing OJ’s values and inspiring all of us to succeed to be the best recruiters we can possibly be. They work to the same degree as all the consultants and encourage the team spirit that we thrive on.

How did you find settling in to Oliver James Associates?

I found that everyone was so welcoming and friendly. It also helps that there are numerous social events so you can relax with people at Friday drinks and get to know everyone properly. It's also reassuring to know that people here are always willing to help you if you have a problem; this type of environment makes it such a lovely place to work.

What’s the Oliver James culture like?

It’s incredibly diverse and innovative; you always have to think outside of the recruitment box. It’s imperative to be tactful in nature due to the seniority of clients and candidates that we deal with.

What are the key attributes and skills someone would need to work for Oliver James Hong Kong?

Resilience. You have to be able to pick yourself up if things get though and not to give up. It’s key to be adaptable too, to fit in with the schedules and business needs of clients and candidates. I’d say personality is key too! Being easy to talk to and having the ability to connect with your clients and candidates is what will separate you from the competition.

Do you have any advice for recruitment professionals who may be considering an overseas move?

I would say that life is far too short and it’s worth venturing outside of your comfort zone and exploring. Besides working for Oliver James Associates, Hong Kong is a truly beautiful city. From the fantastic weather to the variety of things to do, you’ll never be bored!

Are you interested in a rewarding recruitment career with Oliver James Associates Hong Kong?

If so, contact Jessica Schwier, Head of Internal Recruitment at Oliver James Associates, on +44 (0)161 8307836 /

Visit to view current global opportunities.

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