Making the move to Asia - A few handy hints...

So you are looking for your next adventure and always fancied a stint overseas. Asia might seem an obvious option and it can be a great place to gain some excellent experience. However, do be prepared. These tips below should help set you on your way.


Ensure you use a head-hunter/agent who knows the local market.

Singapore is a small and close-knit market. Using a head-hunter who has direct knowledge of the market and who personally knows the partners and the culture of the teams is fundamental. An agent who knows the market well will be able to give you in depth advice. They will also be able to give you the low-down on what the firm is like locally as firms’ overseas offices are often very different to back home.

Find a recruiter you trust and go exclusive.

A good agent will know her or his market well. Singapore in particular is small, and a successful consultant should have all the necessary connections. Working this way enables you to manage the interview process efficiently. You will also gain from getting unbiased advice on the firms you are applying to.

Keep a list of where your CV has gone and be selective.

Take a careful and selective approach. Before sending out your CV ensure the firm has an active role or has shown express interest in your specific profile.

Give yourself enough time.

Given the smaller markets in Asia, the fact that much of the recruitment is led by the partners, and bearing in mind that you are moving countries, your application process can take significantly longer than it would in London. I would suggest giving yourself at least 6 months before your ideal move date. Firms also really value face-to-face meetings, so if you can, book yourself a two week trip to your intended destination and get your agent to set up a number of meetings.

Think through your reasons behind the move.

As the Asian markets develop, firms are now looking for candidates with genuine ties to the region. Saying that you are looking for a new experience is not enough. Give examples of family, friends or work exposure to the region, and make sure you have visited the country and know what you are getting into. In addition, if you are in a relationship, make sure you have discussed it properly and that you have explored career options for both of you.

Language skills.

Be aware that different regions require different skills. For Hong Kong & China, fluent Mandarin is almost always necessary. In Singapore the primary language is English; Bahasa Indonesia and Melayu are very attractive; Mandarin can be desirable but there is not the emphasis on it like there is in Hong Kong.


Charlotte Brooks is a Managing Consultant in our London office. She spent 5 years covering the legal market in Hong Kong & Singapore and has extensive knowledge of the markets. For a confidential discussion, please contact her at

Marsden Group is a leading international legal recruitment firm, with offices in London, Australia, and Canada.  Our London office has a high end practice dealing with leading law firms, corporations and financial institutions.

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