Re-entering the Workforce in the Financial Services Sector

200350296-001As the financial market has seen some signs of improvement,there is a new profile of job seeking candidates who are looking to re-enter the financial services workforce. Who are these groups of people? What is the job outlook for them? Lastly, what can they do or not do to increase their candidacy and stay relevant to the market during their job hunt.

Many of these job seekers are senior level professionals (MDs, Directors, senior VPs who often with long years of service) who have been retrenched due to cost-cutting exercise across the market, parents who have taken time-off to take care of their family and individuals who have gone away to take full-time courses or sabbatical.

At this stage, many banks or financial institutions are still undergoing cost-cutting measures and are hiring cautiously.  This makes it challenging for these professionals to find suitable or equivalent type of jobs. In addition, Hong Kong is not a place where part-time work or flexible working hours or job sharing are commonly practiced – further limiting employment options for parents seeking a work life balance due to family commitments.

We have seen such candidates who have been away from the workforce for extensive periods between 1 to 2 years and depending on the reasons for absence, many of our clients would not consider candidates who have been out of the market for more than 2 years.

Employers are becoming increasingly less flexible on candidate selection as they want candidates who are 100% fit. So how do these professionals make sure they fully maximize their career break, prepare themselves to re-enter the workforce and stay competitive?


  • Make good use of the break – study, upgrade or pick up new skills with professional courses/certifications.Keep yourself up to date with what’s going on in the market (especially for those from job areas where the market practice  / regulations change constantly)
  • Partner with a trusted recruitment consultant to advise you on your career moves and stay on your recruiter’s radar for potential jobs.
  • Keep an open mind to accept a pay-cut for jobs which may enable you to learn new skills or move into a new professional area that you seek.
  • Look out for relevant job opportunities by regularly checking on job boards / websites.
  • Take on contract / project roles which may enable you to learn new skills, allow you to stay in the job market or potentially be converted intoa permanent role.
  • Spend time with your family and recuperate from being burnt-out (especially those who had jobs which required long hours and intensive business travelling)
  • Keep yourself busy by actively networking with ex-colleagues, industry peers and professional bodies related to your field.
  • Stay-tuned to companies’ recruitment program – some international firms are coming up with diversity programs to attract candidates of various background, return mothers / fathers etc. to re-enter the workforce or into senior jobs.


  • Do not send your CV to every potential employer out there. It is best to go through a trusted recruitment consultant or through your own connections and keep track of where your CV has been sent (an important point to note – if you have applied for jobs directly to a potential employer, recruiters are often not able to represent you again to the same company)
  • Do not become desperate and apply to every job you see.
  • Have some flexibility in your job search on the job nature and expected salary but this does not necessary mean downgrading yourself to jobs which are too junior for you.

Amy Ho
Amy Ho is Hong Kong Director of Financial Services Recruitment at Ambition.

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