Hong Kong SAR is a popular destination for many companies looking to fast-track their entry into Greater China.

According to the Global Innovation Index, the Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Guangzhou science and technology cluster – ranked as the world’s second top science and technology cluster in 2021, after Tokyo-Yokohoma.

Owing to attractive government funds, schemes and tax incentives, the number of start-ups quadrupled in less than 10 years and the number of information and communication technologies (ICT)  employees increased by 35%.

The city had also introduced workforce development initiatives like the Technology Talent Admission Scheme, Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme and Research Talent Hub to attract global talent and fund the employment and development of the local workforce.

Entering Hong Kong SAR’s business landscape is an intuitive process. However, expanding in the city’s poses a challenge to companies that are unfamiliar with local regulations, especially where employment is concerned. This area is where a trusted recruitment partner can be of great support.

In this article, we discuss some of the key advantages of partnering with a recruitment agency when it comes to supporting human resources with their industry expertise, recruiting challenges and the common hiring mistakes that start-ups can avoid. Find out how start-up companies in Hong Kong SAR can hire top tech talent even during a talent crunch.

dealing with the recruitment challenges in tech start-ups

With more and more companies setting up shops in Hong Kong SAR to capitalise on growth opportunities, new jobs are constantly being created too.

CPA Australia’s regional survey found that 73% of companies in Hong Kong SAR have a digital transformation strategy, but 35% struggled to find the right talent.

search for tech talent  to drive digital transformation
search for tech talent  to drive digital transformation

Research released by PwC also reported that Hongkongers have a weaker desire to upskill or re-skill compared to other Asian cities, despite perceiving automation as a threat to their job.

When hiring talent, early stage technology companies often find themselves competing against larger firms with greater resources and afford higher pay.

In order to attract tech top talent in a competitive job market, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and start-ups in Hong Kong SAR must be willing to offer an attractive and competitive remuneration package that includes flexible work arrangements such as remote working options, flextime, and compressed hours.

1. competing with giant tech companies on salary

Given the surplus of job opportunities, ICT workers have a strong preference to work with multinational companies. 45% of respondents in our 2021 Tech Talent Expectations survey said that they would prefer to work with a western global company. 30% said that they would prefer to work for an Asian multinational firm.

The preference for big companies could stem from higher salaries and better benefits. In the past few years, Southeast Asian tech companies have begun offering salary increments of 10% to 20% for in-demand jobs, especially in fast-growing sectors like fintech.

Working with a large global company also means that ICT workers have the opportunity to spearhead new technologies, which would help them build experience and negotiate for higher pay and bonus.

2. tech start-ups are seen to lack job security and stability

Many workers tend to avoid joining start-ups because of the perceived instability in their jobs and the company.

Tech giants like Tencent and Google will almost never go out of business because of the sheer scale they operate on. On the other hand, a start-up may be acquired by a larger company or go bust altogether if they run out of funds.

However, there are also some unicorns like Grab and Klook that have found the niche to chart sustainable business growth. Since their incubation, these start-ups have matured their business by developing a viable business structure that offers strong job stability to their employees.

3. lack of career growth in start-ups

One other factor that stands out to tech talent when applying for new jobs is how interesting and meaningful it can be for them. IT professionals want to work in jobs that allow them to hone their tech skills and enhance their capabilities so they can stay agile and competitive.

According to our Tech Talent Expectations survey, 96% of IT professionals are highly interested in exploring other high-growth areas, saying that they would change their specialisations if given the choice.

When retaining young talent, employers must work hand-in-hand with their younger workforce and provide upskilling and development opportunities to align with their rising expectations.

This includes ensuring that employees are working on projects they’re passionate about, while giving them a transparent view of how they can progress in the company.

start-ups are particularly attractive to younger generations as they provide more opportunities for professionals to learn and upskill in hands-on roles. In contrast, advanced professionals prefer companies with a structured environment and career progression.

common mistakes tech start-ups make in hiring

From the corporate team who works behind the scenes to front office salespeople, your workforce comprises critical talent that work together to build your employer brand.

There’s immense pressure for hiring managers to land the best possible candidate - after all, depending on the role, a bad hire can cost anywhere from six to 12 months of their salary.

Common hiring mistakes can be avoided if you get involved with a recruitment agency at the beginning of your recruitment process.

the cost of a bad hire
the cost of a bad hire

1. start-ups lack a strong employer brand

start-ups face tougher challenges in new talent acquisition, because they have to convince suitable candidates that they are a better employer compared to larger companies.

For instance, take a software developer who’s browsing for a new job online. They might stumble across a job advertisement from a big bank they’re very familiar with, followed by one from a new fintech company they’ve never heard of. The developer is much more likely to apply to the job offered by a more established company, whose offer seems more secure.

Companies who want to attract highly skilled talent should first strengthen their employer brand. This includes getting the word out about their company culture, opportunities and incentives, and spotlighting a more agile environment that’s not as common in larger, more conservative MNCs.

In order to stand out more from your competitors, working with a recruitment agency might be better than hiring directly. It allows you to partner with an organisation that will take the time to understand your company values, business goals and hiring requirements. They would also serve as effective ambassadors for your employer brand, encouraging ideal candidates to consider opportunities at your organisation.

2. discriminatory hiring practices in start-ups

Beyond being able to tap a wider pool of talent and foster a culture of inclusivity, there are other factors that will impact your hiring strategy - one of which is Hong Kong SAR’s regulations to ensure that employers do not engage in discriminatory hiring.

One of the most common issues talent encounter during the hiring process is being discriminated against for their personal attributes, such as age, race, gender, pregnancy or marital status, disability and mental health conditions.

You can avoid the headaches associated with employment laws and the human resources issues that some start-up companies face. In order to maintain compliance and secure talent without worrying, it’s easier to work with recruiting agencies who are already familiar with the local regulatory landscape. 

Recruitment agencies like Randstad provide highly-specialised recruiters who are trained to screen, shortlist and place highly-qualified candidates in front of you for an interview, allowing you to focus solely on making the right hire. We also have an in-house contract administrative team to help you with labour-intensive tasks such as contractors’ leave, payroll and employment visas.

In today’s candidate-short market, it’s especially important to look beyond the traditional “ideal hire” and keep an open mind not just for talent diversity but career backgrounds.

By focusing your recruitment strategy on finding the best-fit talent for your team, your business will grow to be more innovative, resilient and adaptive to change.

3. longer hiring process

A common pitfall for tech companies is believing that in order to succeed, they must hire people like FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google). Consequently, they fall into the trap of frustrating top candidates by conducting too many interviews.

The Tech Talent Expectations survey also showed that Hong Kong SAR’s tech workers are rejecting job offers due to a fundamental disconnect between hiring managers and tech candidates.

42% of respondents said that they rejected job offers during the interview process because they did not have a positive impression of the hiring manager. Meanwhile, 34% of respondents rejected offers because the interviewer did not have an adequate understanding of the job or role that they were hiring for.

Hence, it is crucial for interview processes to be efficient and thorough. Hiring managers need to ask the right questions, be transparent and provide detailed information about the company and the available role. If there are no compelling reasons for them to change jobs, tech candidates are likely to stick with their current companies where they can continue to be engaged and upskilled.

Having a meaningful human touch can help employers stand out, especially when they are trying to engage and attract top candidates.

Our experienced recruiters use the interview process to ascertain if a candidate’s interests and relevant skills are a good culture fit for the company and the job opportunity, while sharing much-needed first-hand information about the business to make candidates feel valued.

hiring strategies for tech start-ups

Should start-up companies work with a recruitment agency to hire the talent they want? In short - yes.

With the tech talent shortage in Hong Kong SAR, start-up companies can work with recruitment agencies to build a strong employer brand and effectively market their organisation - two crucial elements for any company looking to navigate a new business landscape with unfamiliar regulations.

The recruiting process involves more than just giving recruiters the job description and budgeted salary, and requesting a shortlist of qualified candidates. Instead, if you know how to work with a recruitment firm, it’s a comprehensive, high-touch process that helps you find, screen, and successfully hire top-performing talent for your business.

Partnering with us means you get access to a talent pool of IT professionals and recruitment experts who know your industry inside out. Rather than being interviewed by someone who may not fully understand industry-specific roles, your candidates will connect to a recruitment specialist who can determine if they’re truly a good fit for the role and the organisation.

It also ensures that you stay on track with relevant candidates at all times. Besides undergoing a more comprehensive screening and application process, job seekers can expect a tighter feedback loop, because we will check in frequently to ensure a smooth onboarding process.

get access to the best IT talent
get access to the best IT talent

When you work with us, you also benefit from their experience in attracting top talent, understanding how to attract candidates and helping you make the best decisions about your company’s future. Furthermore, having a workforce with the right candidate will lead to lower employee turnover, higher productivity and improved business performance.

That being said, our specialists are tasked to find the best talent for your teams - but it takes an organisation with a strong employer brand to properly engage and retain them.

partner with randstad

If you’re looking to increase your headcount or hiring in Hong Kong SAR for the first time, let us help you source specialised tech talent for your recruitment needs. You can speak with our recruitment specialists to learn more about how you can improve your employer brand within a highly competitive tech landscape.

Need to tap into contract workers to support your business growth plan? Work with us for a tailored end to end recruitment and HR services solutions. Alternatively, if you are an active candidate, explore your options in tech space. Check out our latest job listings and apply for jobs.

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