Hong Kong Calling: 8 Tips for a Thriving Career

Hong Kong

A smorgasbord of East meets West.

Hong Kong is an attractive destination for businesses and budding entrepreneurs, with it’s iconic skyline framing the geographic and economic centre of Asia.

Its’ rich heritage makes Hong Kong a unique city, with many idiosyncrasies and customs. For instance, the number 8 is an auspicious one, a homonym for “wealth” (發)! In line with this, here are 8 tips for those thinking of working in Hong Kong.

1) Prepare to Pay Through the Nose

Hong Kong is the second most expensive city in Asia, and the top ten most expensive in the world, in terms of rent, food and petrol. With sky-high real estate prices and limited living spaces, cost of living is a huge factor when negotiating remuneration for those relocating to Hong Kong.

2) Pleasure Doing Business with You

The world’s freest economy for 23 years in a row, Hong Kong is the place for entrepreneurs. With low and simple taxation, free trade, an effective regulatory system, and independent judiciary; it is no wonder the city attracts entrepreneurs and breed magnates.


Networking and exchanging business contacts is an art that demands respect.


3) Network Like a Local

An almost exaggerated confidence is a must when networking in Hong Kong. Always carry crisp business cards (printed in English and Mandarin on both sides is a nice touch), and exchange with a handshake and a slight bow. European cheek-kissing or any other form of physical contact is rare, and an unwarranted hug is an embarrassing faux pas. Unless explicitly asked otherwise, address fellow professionals by their title and surname.

4) Follow the Leader

With the exception of small startups, corporate hierarchies must be adhered to. When mingling in group, be sure to identify senior figures, and greet them before others. Be prepared to follow this, even to your slight detriment. For example, though there might be working hours set in place; it is disrespectful to leave before your boss does!


Chinese food
Yum cha! Cantonese brunch, with endless cups of hot tea and sumptuous dim sum.


5) Live to Eat

The ‘God of Cookery’ presides in Hong Kong. A mecca for gourmands, food is not just for sustenance; it’s a way of life. It is considered bad manners to let a guest go hungry. Business deals and discussions often take place at the dining table, over Michelin-star dim sum or hearty noodles by the roadside. For this reason, it is impolite to eat at your desk or to turn down invitations to corporate lunches.

6) Dress Sharp

Professional dressing in Hong Kong is conservative, with a preference for formal dresses, suits, shirt and ties. The dress code consists of darker, neutral colours, which must be adhered to when conducting all business meetings, even outside of office hours. To avoid sticking out like a sore thumb, keep a neat, polished appearance.

Hong Kong streets
Highly-educated and bilingual graduates are aplenty in Hong Kong.


7) Competition is Steep

Since returning to Chinese sovereignty, there is a general preference to recruit local candidates. There is an increasing number of bilingual, local graduates receiving high-quality education, resulting in less demand for foreigners. However, there are still certain talents that are in short supply…

8) Calling All Tech Talents

Demand for tech talents is on the rise globally, and nowhere is this more prevalent that in ultra-modern Hong Kong. Rapid developments in A.I. and machine learning has created a gap for digital talents. In the Asia Business Council’s Asian Index of Artificial Intelligence, Hong Kong ranks poorly in terms of economic and talent preparedness for and resilience to an A.I. led future. Programmers and developers are highly-sought after, followed by digital marketers.

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