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Candidates advised to upgrade qualifications in competitive sector
Nancy Ko
update on Saturday, August 21, 2010

As public confidence in the local housing sector continues to grow, industry professionals believe market improvements will prompt employers to aggressively expand their operations, and the majority of roles with developers are for strong project managers.

According to Chris Urban, property and construction manager at Michael Page, those with solid mixed-use development experience and long-term exposure to the mainland are in demand.

He believes that, as retailers continue positioning themselves for the mainland's long-term growth prospects, there will be a rising demand for expansion strategists in the property sector.

Urban recalls that last year saw many difficulties for the property sector, with many projects and jobs being put on hold. But, with the focus on growth again, he is optimistic that hiring will increase to match employers' development plans. Most employers are looking for candidates with specific or rare skill sets, a proven track record, solid exposure to the mainland, and an extensive mainland network.

Urban points out that although the market is fundamentally candidate-driven, job-seekers would do well to upgrade their skills in an increasingly competitive sector. "There is a growing emphasis on recognised professional memberships, such as RICS or HKIA, and candidates should not delay in obtaining these [credentials]."

He says salaries will rise for strong candidates with specialist skills. "The necessity for companies to ensure that they are well positioned and properly staffed to take advantage of China's potential growth prospects will mean candidates have the comfort of being more selective about opportunities."

Chris Armstrong, managing consultant at property recruitment firm Judd Farris, believes that hiring will be more focused on plugging the talent gap in the near future.

"Employers are seeking to fill immediate skill gaps for strategic staff ... and recent changes in the property job market have seen the few employers that are genuinely hiring being more decisive about who they want to target and asking for a lot more of a match than in the past few years."

He agrees that the market is still biased towards candidates. "This is due to general skills lacking in the small, remaining talent pool that is actively or even passively looking for a new role."

What bosses want  

  • Fluency in Putonghua
  • A very tight set of skills
  • A balance of Western exposure and regional experience
  • Expansion strategists
  • Connectors to the extensive mainland networks

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