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5 Recruitment Tips for Breaking into Asia

09 January 2020

by Megan Walsh

Breaking into a new market can be tough, especially if you’re an overseas candidate. Here we speak to Abbi Wilcock, senior consultant at Oliver James Hong Kong, on what you can do to speed up the process and secure yourself a role in the APAC markets:


Become fully qualified

To work in Asia, you’re going to need a sponsorship. But for a company to sponsor you, you need to prove you have a set of skills that can’t be found amongst candidates in the local market.

If you’re a UK-based actuary, for example, being fully qualified will go a long way when it comes to getting sponsored. Not yet fully qualified? Check out our latest webinar to find out which qualifications are the most favourable across the Asian market.


Make yourself known to the market

If you already work for an international organisation, try to negotiate a relocation to the company’s APAC division. If that’s not possible, ask your UK employer if you can cover the APAC market or work on any regional projects that come up.

Market exposure will put you in good stead when looking for a local role. By making yourself known in the market you wish to enter, employers will be able to put a face to your name and your employment will feel like less of a risk to your prospective company.


Be flexible

Instead of setting your sights on your long-term goals and aspirations, be open minded and apply for positions where your skills can be used to your advantage.

Research skill shortages and see where your experience is a match. For example, if you’re an actuary with strong modelling skills, you’ll be more attractive because of the shortage of this skill in the APAC markets.

And while you might have your sights set on another role, utilising your current skills will raise your chances of international employment and could guarantee a foot in the door.


Motivation is key

Relocating a candidate overseas is an expensive task, so you need to be able to convince your prospective employer that you are committed to making a life in Asia and not just looking for a temporary change of scenery.

If what you’re looking for is the latter, it will come across in your interview and will be detrimental in your efforts to break into the APAC markets. Be sure to create a plan including a set of goals and motivations that are pulling you towards a career in Asia.


Consider contracting

One of the most effective routes into APAC is through short-term employment. As a contractor, you’ll not only be trying out the market before you commit to any particular area; you’ll also be gaining a wealth of exposure and varied market knowledge. Many contract positions also develop into permanent roles, so it’s a good idea to partner with a recruitment company like Oliver James Consulting, like this candidate did, so you are not alone in this journey.

All in all, the Asian markets offer boundless for opportunities for ambitious individuals who are serious about a career in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.


So, are you ready to make the move?

Oliver James has offices in both Hong Kong and Singapore, with a team of expert consultants ready to assist you in your search. To find out more, give Abbi Wilcock a call on +852 3018 4612 or send an email to

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