Career Path

Choosing the right path

by Ada Ng

Amy Ho, manager
banking and financial services
Ambition Hong Kong
Photo: Nolly Leung

It is not uncommon for young graduates to enter a profession directly connected to their academic training and later find themselves unsatisfied and stuck.

Amy Ho believes there is a way out. She broke the psychological obstacles six years ago and took a different career path — one that is challenging and rewarding and allows her to draw upon her strengths and academic training.

Ms Ho graduated from the University of Cambridge in the UK with a degree in architecture. After working as an architect trainee for one year, she felt that the profession was not stimulating and decided to move into the recruitment consultancy industry.

Currently a banking and financial services manager at executive recruitment firm Ambition Hong Kong, Ms Ho believes making the switch from the architecture industry to her current field was the right move.

"My career change wasn't a reckless decision," she says. "I thought it through, working out how my architecture training and skills could be transferred to the field of recruitment consultancy."

She started as a researcher in an executive search firm, assisting in sourcing of candidates through cold calls and headhunting in the initial years of her recruitment career. She then moved on to become a recruitment consultant with Ambition and worked her way up to the post of manager, specialising in the banking and finance practice.

Essentially, she found an outlet for her people-oriented nature and strong project and relationship management skills as a recruitment consultant.

Managing expectations

Leading a team of four consultants, Ms Ho now helps hundreds of people who desire a similar change.

She readily admits that choosing the right candidates for clients and vice versa is no easy task. "There are always positive and negative aspects in any job. It is therefore crucial to set the expectations of candidates and make them aware of how the good aspects can advance their career development and improve their lives," she stresses.

Similarly, it is important to set clients' expectations for the type of available candidates based on the market situation, the terms and the environment the company can offer to candidates.

"Expectations and relationship management are the most critical elements," Ms Ho emphasises. "We're not here to upsell a candidate or a company; we follow through the whole process from understanding our clients' needs and concerns and placing the job advertisements to reviewing candidates' profiles and matching their expectations with the clients'."

"Be alert to company directions and market trends at all times"

Long term relationships

With a keen belief that there are no "bad" candidates and there is a right job for everyone, Ms Ho considers the people-oriented aspect of the job her strength.

"We're dealing with people and people's emotions can be unpredictable," she says. "Candidates who initially express interest in a job may withdraw from it at the last minute. So, it is always important to set candidates' expectations and go through all the details with them."

Part of Ms Ho's job involves staff coaching. She places a great deal of importance on helping to grow the potential of her team. "Just as we want candidates to be satisfied with their job placements, I want my team to look forward to coming to work every day," she says.

Her other responsibilities include team budgeting, revenue forecast, training and negotiating with clients," Ms Ho says. "These duties are quite different from the typical role of a consultant, and challenging in a sense that it takes a great deal of leadership skills."

People who are consistently successful in the recruitment field share a number of qualities, Ms Ho reveals. They love working with people and enjoy relationship management. Being resourceful and having experience in the industry one chooses to specialise in is an asset too, she adds.

More importantly, recruitment consultancy demands hard work and long hours. "It's a competitive industry and we often interview candidates at lunch hours or even after hours. We also need to be alert to company directions and market trends at all times," she concludes.


Taken from Career Times 20 February 2009, p. B2
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