Need advice on finding a job in Asia.
June 16, 2011 8:08 AM   Subscribe

Need advice on finding a job in Asia.

I immigrated to the United States from Asia at a young age. Ever since coming to the States, I have never really felt that I quite fit in the American society. With the growth and development going on in Asia in recent years, I am seriously thinking about looking for a job in Asia, and potentially moving back permanently. However, I am not sure where to begin or how to look.

My education/work experience:
I have a B.S. in engineering physics, and a M.S. in industrial engineering. However, the only work experience I have in engineering was working as a co-op engineer at a wafer deposition/fabrication company for a semester. After getting 2 degrees in engineering, I realized that engineering is probably not where my interest lies. I began to take accounting classes and switched to accounting. I worked for an accounting firm as an auditor for about a year and 4 months, and got my CPA license in the process. However I left my accounting job when the economy turned bad a couple years ago (It was either that or face the chopping block). Ever since, I have been working for my family's bookkeeping practice. It's a very small operation, and I can probably take over the business in the future, but accounting is not where my interest lies either. To be honest, I don't know what my interest is. I do want to see if there are better options for me in Asia land (where I think I might fit in a bit more).

More about me:
I am in my early 30s. I am an American citizen and I have the right of abode in Hong Kong. I can speak English, Cantonese, and a little bit of Mandarin.

What I want to know:
What are my options if I just want to be working in Asia? What are my options if I want a job in Asia that would fit my background? What are my options if I still want to explore my career choices a bit? Am I even being realistic in trying to start from scratch in Asia?

More info:
I am also thinking about going on a trip to Hong Kong and Singapore. If I do make the trip, where should I start looking? Any tips on how I should maximize my time while I am there would be appreciated.

Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not get a job in an American company that is looking for someone to work overseas? I know several people that want to stay in the US so theire company sends them over seas only part of the year, but their companies would prefer if they were abroad full time.

But If you just get up and go, it won't be too bad either. My last trip to Thailand a couple years ago, I got a job offer on the spot, but I wasn't ready to move yet, I was just scoping things out while I was there. It seems to me that every company wants a competitive edge and if they hire someone who's familiar with American ways, I'm sure they assume that will give them competitive edge in the american market and create opportunities to make more money.
posted by udon at 7:49 PM on June 16, 2011

I thought this question would have more responses, but since it doesn't, I'll give it a shot.

What are my options if I just want to be working in Asia?

If you are not a citizen of an Asian country, you will need to be sponsored for a work visa. However, you said you immigrated at a young age. Some countries (I know South Korea, Hong Kong, and Macau at least) allow citizens' offspring (who may have been born/raised in another country) to obtain some special kind of visa which offers right of abode as well as right to work. I'm not certain on the details - you can probably find them easily by googling - but requirements are usually some combination of being a blood descendant and having parents who hold/have held passports.

What are my options if I want a job in Asia that would fit my background?

This is much easier, and in my experience, it is not difficult to obtain work visas for many Asian countries. Since your background is in accounting, I would look into international accounting firms (the big 4 are an obvious place to start and have an enormous presence in Asia) and apply to their local offices. Their websites/job banks will have options to sort by location. With your experience and language skills it should be no problem to at least get a few interviews. American-based companies with an international presence prefer to hire, for satellite offices, people educated in America (for a better cultural fit as a large % of senior staff is expats) but of the local ethnicity (for language skills).

What are my options if I still want to explore my career choices a bit?

Go to a headhunting/recruitment agency with your resume and see what they have to offer you. (Again, a google search will turn up many hits.) I've been contacted recently by places I left my resume at years ago when the economy was dead, so I'm guessing the job market is hot again.

Am I even being realistic in trying to start from scratch in Asia?

Oh hell yes. The growth there is no joke and if you can wrangle an expat salary package, you'll be living like a king from day 1.
posted by droolshark at 10:03 PM on June 16, 2011

I'm late to this question but I just want to mention that HK is a large financial city and a good portion of the middle class work in that sector. If you have experience, knowledge or certification in that area, it'll be that much easier for you to get a decent paying job.

CPA + right of adobe will help you get into the big four firms but the hours are brutal and the pay is miserly until you move up. I wouldn't recommend any one I know to transfer to a HK practice unless they were a manager or above. Do you have relatives you can board with? That would make expand your options that much more as rents aren't cheap.

Singapore is kind of similar, kind of not. It's also a large financial city with expensive rents that attracts lots of foreign talent but with generally lower pay and much better air. I can't comment beyond that.

Check the expat forums that cater to the various large, international cities. You're not in a multinational that you can request a transfer with, nor do you have strong financial or managerial experience, so you will have to be persistent and on the lookout for networking opportunities and postings. 30s is definitely not late to move to Asia but you will need to frame your working experience to sound better than the fresh grad returning home from university abroad with a term or two of coop experience.
posted by tksh at 3:37 PM on July 7, 2011

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