Retail in Asia

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54pc of HK employers intend to hire staff

According to the JobsDB Q2 2012 Hiring Index, 54 percent of employers in Hong Kong intend to hire staff in the coming three months, a 14 percent decline compared with the second quarter of 2011. The survey reveals that 37 percent of employers think the expected salary of fresh university graduates is too high. Among those who will hire secondary school graduates this year, 89 percent do not have preference for A-level or DSE (Diploma of Secondary Education) graduates. It is also found that 32 percent of respondents say fresh graduates are "Unable to demonstrate adequate company knowledge during interview". "Cover letter/ resume not well organised" is regarded as the most common job hunting mistake made by fresh graduates.

JobsDB conducted an online survey in July 2012 to gather information on hiring intention in the coming three months. The hiring preference for fresh graduates is also covered. A total of 124 companies participated in the survey.

The survey reveals that 54 percent of employers intend to hire staff in the coming three months, a 13 percent decline over the last quarter and 14 percent over the same quarter last year. Twenty three percent of employers plan to freeze headcount and 6 percent are likely to cut headcount.

Justin Yiu, JobsDB Hong Kong’s General Manager of Sales and Marketing, comments: "The decline in hiring intention indicates a slowdown in the labour market. With reference to government statistics, we see that there was a drop in exports to the European Union market in 2Q as a result of the Eurozone crisis. I believe employers will continue to control hiring costs by adopting a cautious approach.

"Despite the external uncertainties, the local economy is supported by strong economic fundamentals. The low unemployment rate together with the growth of visitors to Hong Kong have boosted local consumption, providing support to the Hong Kong economy. Based on these favourable factors, I think the labour market is not likely to experience a sharp decline in the short term. Therefore I advise job seekers not to be too pessimistic."

For employers who have hired fresh university graduates in the past 12 months, 37 percent claim that their expected salary is too high, about 11 percent higher than the actual salary offered. For those who plan to hire secondary school graduates, 81 percent intend to offer the same salary to A-level and DSE graduates and 89 percent have no preference for graduates under these two academic systems.

Justin Yiu says: "I recommend fresh graduates to study salary trends before they determine the expected salary since 37 percent of employers think their expected salary is too high. In view of weakening hiring expectations, fresh graduates are advised to make career choices carefully by taking into account both salary and career prospects.

"For A-level and DSE graduates who plan to enter the job market this year, the competition would be intense because they are likely to compete for entry level positions. Although it is reported that employers are not familiar with the DSE grading standard, we do not see a notable difference between the intentions of recruiting A-level and DSE graduates. As the survey finds that most employers would not give priority to A-level graduates, we believe A-level graduates may be not in a better position when competing for a job with DSE graduates. Employers tend to focus on the personal interests, abilities and work attitudes of candidates."

Respondents were asked to choose the experience they had when dealing with fresh graduates. 32 percent of respondents choose "Unable to demonstrate adequate company knowledge during interview", followed by "Unable to adapt to the working environment" (28 percent) and "Bad attitude during interview" (26 percent).

According to the survey, the most common mistakes made by fresh graduates when applying for jobs are "Cover letter/ resume is not well organised" (40 percent), "Forgot to specify the position they apply for" (33 percent) and "Grammatical mistakes in cover letter/ resume" (30 percent).

Justin Yiu adds: "It is essential for youngsters to equip themselves for the job market and develop a positive mind to deal with work challenges. As shown by this survey, the top three qualities employers look for in fresh graduates are ‘Positive working attitude’ (77 percent), ‘Willing to learn’ (75 percent) and ‘Responsible’ (67 percent). To make a good impression on employers, youngsters should demonstrate a sense of responsibility and avoid careless mistakes. I think employers place a high value on those who have a positive attitude towards work and challenges."