Asia Chronicles, Job Searches, Sponsored Content

The Asia Chronicles: Candidate-Financed Interview Trips – Back in Style

[Ed. note: This post is authored by Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting, sponsor of the Asia Chronicles. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates and partners in Asia than any other firm in the past two years. You can reach them by email: asia at kinneyrecruiting dot com.]

Robert Kinney here, writing from my hometown, Austin, Texas. We’re enjoying fine weather for our music conference, South by Southwest (SXSW) this this week, and I’m having a slow week (on purpose) at work. Slow, for me, is about 9 calls a day with candidates and clients, instead of 20 or 30. One of the strange paradoxes about going from law practice to a recruiting practice is that you wind up working like a lawyer all the same, provided you want to really excel at the work. You have the same requirements from clients that come up at all hours, you deal with smart people and sometimes have difficult situations to navigate, and you have to travel to do it right. As a matter of fact, for the first time in what seems like several months I’m not currently feeling any jetlag. I had hoped to return to Hong Kong for Rugby 7’s at the end of next week, for my third trip to Asia this year, but I’m taking a few weeks off of travel. 200,000 miles last year made for a sore backside, and I’m on pace for another year like that. So is Evan Jowers; as he described in his article last week, he’s been tearing up runways around the world as well. Thankfully, doing so is paying off for our clients and candidates. We won’t stop because it is a major key to our success.

We received a complimentary note last weekend from a senior partner at a client law firm in Asia. I think it sums up why it’s a good idea to work with us if you’re looking to hire or move overseas (or within any of our domestic markets):

“We work with you guys for four reasons: (i) quality of candidates; (ii) detailed involvement in the interview/decision process; (iii) valuable market information; and (iv) we prefer to work with dudes we like — life’s too short.”

Of course, our detractors out there may assume one of us drafted the above quote. We could not have come up with a better testimonial if we had. But we don’t solicit testimonials, let alone make them up, and most clients probably assume that, having sent us a check, we’ve been complimented enough. When something like this comes in, it means something to us.

Because we are known to send excellent candidates for the open positions we represent, you can be assured that if you are one of our candidates and we have said that we can represent you, your candidacy will be seriously considered by clients in our markets, whether in Asia, the Middle East, Texas, or New York. I would like to thank the people who get in touch with us every day to ask for our advice and assistance with their job searches. We do our best to shoot straight with people and provide everyone with what market knowledge we can so that they get the full benefit of our experience. But, ultimately, it is those people who place their trust in us who provide us with the ability to provide quality candidates in the first place. Any lucky recruiter could come up with a good candidate now and again. It takes a special situation to be able to do so repeatedly to the point where you have a reputation for always doing so. In many of the cases of our recent placements we were representing each of the four or five finalists for the positions that were filled.

In several of the cases of our recent Asia placements, the candidates are people with whom we had worked for over a year prior to placing them. Some of them contacted us in the doldrums of Winter 2009, when very little placement activity (or even legal activity) was afoot in Asia. We knew we would eventually be successful and spent the year keeping the candidates informed about the market. When the market began to come back to life we, and our candidates, were ready. We have a ready backlog of people we are working with now, and we are very thankful to those people for their patience. We are confident that the market will continue to improve in Asia and that we will be able to help all of our candidates eventually. Many of them are interviewing.

Before getting to a list of current openings, one thing is worth noting about our current approach to the market in Asia: the value of the candidate-financed trip has gone up recently to the point where we now again recommend this method of attacking the market. As was the case in 2006-2008, in several recent cases we have selectively recommended that the candidate plan a trip to Asia and allow us to work scheduling interviews into the available time in the market. This really can be an effective way to break the ice. Of course it’s still the case that firms will fly out candidates they are interested in seeing, but such a trip on the nickel of a firm can be limiting. Ironically, if a firm buys your business class ticket, as some still do, this sometimes creates an expectation on the part of the firm that you will only see them, or if you see other firms that the other firms will pitch in. This can be awkward with both the third party law firm and the firm that flew you out; we have seen what appeared to be a generous offer to fly a candidate out in business class turn into a situation where the momentum was lost with the firm that made the offer to cover travel and no other firms stepped up to the plate to see the candidate. Conversely, we have seen an investment of as little as $800 for a plane ticket and less than $100/night for a hotel room materialize into multiple offers after we go to work setting up interviews.

So, with that extended introduction, here’s a random walk among needs and openings we’re working on in Asia:

* One of our US based clients is looking for ’08 native Korean US associate in HK – mix of
cap markets and m&a work;
* A UK firm client is looking for a junior to mid-level US cap markets associate in HK and BJ;
* An international firm is looking for US cap markets associates in HK;
* A US middle bracket firm says they will soon hire a mid level US cap markets associate in
HK (but we are not sure when they will actually start interviewing);
* A high quality NY firm is looking for junior to mid-level US corporate associate in BJ;
* A big US firm’s office in Singapore is interviewing (since they are interviewing one of our
candidates – but they also say they are not hiring, so the situation is not totally clear);
* The same firm’s BJ office is interviewing US M&A associates;
* Another Amlaw 20 firm’s HK office needs a mid-level project finance US associate;
* A new entrant to the market with three China offices needs a 2 to 4 year US cap markets
associate in HK, SHG or BJ
* (new hire’s choice);
* An established player with US roots needs HK qualified associates in HK;
* A big player from the US needs 3 HK qualified associates in HK;
* The same player is interviewing US corporate associates in SHG;
* An international firm needs mid-level M&A US associate in SHG;
* The same firm needs a mid-level to senior M&A US associate in BJ;
* Another firm needs mid-level to senior associates with a mix of M&A and cap markets
experience in HK;
* The same firm also needs a senior cap markets associate in HK with US experience;
* Another UK firm is starting to interview mid-level US corporate associates in HK;
* Yet another Amlaw 20 firm is starting to interview M&A US associates in HK;
* Another established US firm is interviewing senior M&A associates in HK;
* The same firm is interviewing mix M&A / cap markets senior US associates in HK;
* They are also interviewing mid-level cap markets US associates in HK;
* Another top US firm still needs junior Korean associate in HK (but the partners are not sure
when they will get clearance to make such a hire);
* The same firm still needs a junior US associate in HK (again, not sure when they will get
clearance to make such a hire);
* A major US-based firm needs a fund formation mid-level to senior associate in both BJ and
* Another firm from the US still needs a junior to mid-level US cap markets associate in HK
We look forward to hearing from you. Contact our Asia team at