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by Christina Tai

Catherine Fong, senior human resources manager, Yahoo! Hong Kong Limited
Photo: Lewis Wong

Product engineers shaping the new world of Internet technology

New gadgets, applications and technology relating to use of the Internet just keep on emerging. Most are designed to be user-friendly and easy to learn and, together with enabling features, such as RSS Feed and Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX), are creating a whole new world of communications.

For instance, content publishing systems are being considerably enhanced to provide real-time news and links to blogs, while today's powerful search engines also make it possible to offer functions which facilitate highly promising media services, online advertisements, search marketing and e-commerce. All of these have created demand for a new breed of technical professionals, and companies are scouring the market for candidates who fit the bill.

"The job market has revived, but our focus is still on quality, not quantity," says Catherine Fong, senior human resources manager for Yahoo! Hong Kong Limited. "When filling key positions, we consider both internal and external applicants and also welcome referrals from current members of staff, who know the standards we expect."

Not surprisingly, besides the print media and recruitment agencies, the company also uses the Internet to advertise vacancies. This provides another way of attracting the attention of people who may not be actively job seeking but are nevertheless open to an interesting new challenge. Those in this general category include Hong Kong-born professionals now studying or working in the US, who see the future in Asia and are waiting for the right opportunity to come up.

Engineers with brilliant technical backgrounds also require good soft skills

"Now may be the time, provided they have passion and vision about the development of the Internet," says Ms Fong. "Currently, we have openings in product support, software development, IT applications and systems engineering." She adds that the company looks for high-calibre candidates, since Internet technology is changing very fast. Therefore, she points out, applicants should be self-starters, business-minded, innovative, and able to develop and execute new ideas.

To a large extent, the challenge of these jobs lies in the lack of sources of reference. For this reason, the incumbents must be ready to break new ground and have the drive to make things happen. Apart from extensive technical knowledge, they should be dedicated to building a long-term career and, in line with the company's mission, want to provide the best products and services for users and to optimise platforms for advertisers.

"Many features have been invented or perfected by our engineers," notes Ms Fong. "These include Knowledge Plus, the new Personals Homepage and building one of the most frequently visited blog sites."

Product support engineers, in particular, must be adept at responding to technical issues originating from internal business units and external partners. They also need to liaise closely with colleagues in customer service, direct sales, content solutions, international markets and other groups to resolve advertiser- and customer-related technical issues.

"Engineers with brilliant technical backgrounds also require good soft skills, and anyone who joins us must be outstanding in both areas," says Ms Fong. She adds that Hong Kong-trained engineers often have superb technical knowledge, but have to enhance their soft skills as well if they want to advance their career. On the same theme, she notes that mainland computer engineers are highly motivated, but tend to hop between jobs as they look for new opportunities to learn.

"We believe that what separates Yahoo! HK from the competition is that our people get job satisfaction from leading trends in the next generation of Internet developments," says Ms Fong. "Also, there is our company culture of openness and sharing which encourages innovation and makes it easier to turn new ideas into possible new business initiatives. If you can accept challenges like this, then this company is the place for you."

Necessary qualifications and technical skills

  • Minimum 2-3 years' experience in dealing with customers on a technical help desk or in a product support environment
  • Bachelor's degree in computer science or the equivalent
  • Experience in a programming language and a working knowledge of SOAP/XML
  • Sound knowledge of Java or Perl, Linux, and Yahoo! Search marketing products, and an in-depth understanding of search engines and allied technology
The essentials for product support engineers

  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Able to perform well in a relationship-based service environment Eager to learn and generate new ideas
  • Outgoing personality
  • Good business acumen
  • Ready to take the initiative in identifying, analysing and resolving problems
  • Excellent team player and able to work with minimum supervision
  • Capable of influencing and motivating others effectively

Taken from Career Times 13 October 2006
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