Monthly Update – December 2010

Market News

Not one, not two but three new super-tall skyscrapers will be built in China over the next 5 years it was announced this month. First to be revealed was the project from Shanghai Greenland Group who will construct the world’s third-tallest building in Wuhan standing at 606 metres. It will be a mixed use project consisting of commercial space, hotels and luxury apartments. Next up was the 500m, 122 floor skyscraper announced to become Beijing’s tallest building. Again a commercial, apartment and hotel mixed use scheme. Finally revealed was Green Central Plaza in Zhengzhou, Henan. This will be a twin tower development offering mainly commercial and entertainment spaces in two 300m towers. We will be publishing a blog article on some of China’s latest high rise projects in development in the coming months. This week China Daily published an interesting article on skyscrapers in China the link to which can be found here:

In infrastructure news it was announced that a high-speed rail link between China and Myanmar would begin construction in 2 months. Work has continued apace on China’s high-speed rail projects in 2010 with it’s most expensive and difficult rail project linking Yichang and Wanzhou finally beginning operations in December after 7 years of construction. 73% of the link’s length runs through bridges or tunnels. Also in December it was announced that the final links of the track linking Beijing to Shanghai were laid. This line will commence operations in 2011 with journey times between the two cities cut from 10 to 4 hours.

Honqiao Railway Stationphoto © 2010 Drew | more info (via: Wylio)

What’s Hot

Despite December traditionally being a quieter month for hiring in the run up to the Christmas holidays, we have found demand in a few key areas still remains very high. Clients are finding there is a real shortage of quality engineering candidates, particularly in the M&E, Structural and Civil sectors. Consultancies and contractors are keen to attract experienced candidates to service building projects in Hong Kong and China. There seems to be more of a focus on candidates with strong buildings delivery experience rather than those with infrastructure experience. However, clients still remain on the lookout for quality candidates with rail and tunnel backgrounds in all disciplines.

On the design side it seems demand remains very high for experienced architects with Mandarin language ability. These people can be based in Hong Kong or China. A couple of companies also seem to be looking to strengthen their teams with key strategic hires, particularly focussing on those with China business development experience. Most companies anticipate a increased demand for people after the Chinese New Year holidays in February and some are starting to look at their needs early in anticipation of a shortage of good design candidates then.

Most Urgent Requirements

We have outlined below the urgent vacancies we have had through from clients over the last month.

  • Lead Architect – Shanghai – US practice with new and growing Asia presence
  • Principle Structural Engineer – Hong Kong – International engineering consultancy
  • Senior Architect – Hong Kong – Hong Kong and International architectural practice
  • Senior Building Services Engineer – Hong Kong – International building service and consulting company
  • Senior Project Planning Engineer – Macau – International contracting and construction company

In addition we are keen to hear from engineers at all levels with strong structural, M&E and MEP experience for positions in Hong Kong.

Please visit our website for more information on the above roles and our other vacancies:

If you wish to enquire about a position please send an email and your CV to

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Chinese City Fact: Chengdu

    Chengdu is known for a number of things but not many people realise that it is recognised as a real centre for Chinese tea culture. There are thousands of tea houses in the city where the local population like to go to socialise, play Mah Jong and cards and even listen to Sichuan opera performances. They were originally set up as working clubs for men where business transactions and deals were done.

Chengdu Day 1photo © 2007 Prince Roy | more info (via: Wylio)

For more on Chengdu please visit:

Writing a Good CV

By James Long

There are numerous articles and sites giving advice on how to write a CV. I have put together this guide to give an insight into what I have found makes a successful CV from my dealings with candidates and clients in Asia. I will be publishing a similar guide specifically for graduate’s at a later date which will provide some tips for those candidates with little or no professional experience.

If you are working in the design industry, it’s worthwhile creating a graphical CV and I’ve provided guidance on this later in the article. This should be something which visually shows your creativity whilst also ensuring that you include as much information about yourself as possible.

If your CV is to include graphical touches I recommend that you start with a simple written CV and then design around that. I shall therefore firstly outline the structure and written content that I think you should include. This written structure can be used for candidates working within the construction and property fields where the majority of candidates will have a selection of projects to describe.

Start with your personal information, full name (English and other language), contact details etc. A photo is not necessary but sometimes asked for by clients – this is a matter of personal taste. If you use one, please ensure it is not too artistic or fanciful, a simple portrait image, about the size of a passport picture should suffice. I have seen some extreme examples but none more so than the hopeful graduate who sent a CV with a photo of him in a chicken hat and funny glasses…a talking point perhaps, an aid to him finding work? Perhaps not!

Following on from your personal information, write a brief professional profile. Outline your strengths, skills and the experience you have. When talking about your experience, give a brief chronological overview of your career history and how you have arrived in your current position e.g. “I started as a graduate with a large engineering consultancy where I was promoted to principal engineer within 5 years. I then took up the position of project director with a leading developer where I led their residential projects in China. I was recently promoted to General Manager….” and so on.

Also highlight your personal characteristics and any aspirations. Be slightly careful with the aspirations – highlighting “a desire to work with a big name architect or developer” only to then send your CV to a small boutique company can send conflicting messages. Therefore do not be afraid to tailor the profile to suit the application you are making and make sure you keep track of the CV’s you send to different companies. Also mention any significant languages spoken in the profile.

Next outline your education. Detail your years of study both as an undergraduate and postgraduate, the institutions and grades achieved (expected). If you have recently graduated or have limited professional experience then briefly outline your significant academic projects and grades here. There is no need to list all your school grades/exams – simply provide an overview. e.g. 11 GCSE’s grade A-C. You should also include any awards/medals you received during your studies.

Curriculum Vitaephoto © 2008 Desi | more info (via: Wylio)

Following on from your education, now outline your work history. This should include your dates of employment (month and year), the company, your position and then a brief description of your role. Next add a project list and breakdown for each position – make sure you outline what you did specifically on these projects, even if it was detailing toilets early in your career! Include both individual projects and those completed as part of a team. This should only include your significant projects and does not need to include a 1 week study, unless of course it’s extremely relevant. Outline the project brief, your approach, how the project developed and the end result, including any awards. If working as a team, highlight your specific contribution to the project. With each project include facts and figures – it’s value, size and what type of project it was. You may you include some images of the projects here – remember be subtle and relevant. You don’t need hundreds, save that for a portfolio if you are a design candidate.

It’s now time to detail other specific skills. For example your CAD competency, IT knowledge, hand drawing ability etc. Outline each software package you can use including a level of proficiency for each. In the design industry for example a lot of firms are looking for experience with the newer software packages such as Rhino, Maya and Revit.

Following this now outline your language proficiency – if you are only English speaking it is not necessary to have this as a skill – it should be obvious by the CV you have written! But do include any other languages you speak at a decent level of proficiency, indicating the level of proficiency and whether it is spoken or written.

Finally it’s time to talk about your interests or any other relevant information. Here you should include things such as team membership at university, any leadership positions you have had or extra-curricular activities undertaken in any of your roles.

You can include reference information at the end of your CV if you wish. Most firms in Asia will require references, sometimes quite early on in the selection process. Having written references to take to interview is the best bet. If you put referee contact information on your CV please do check with them to make sure they are aware that someone may be contacting them – you’d be surprised how many people don’t check and I’ve had instances where companies have called to take references only to find the referee can barely remember the person. Never a good sign!

If you decide to create a CV with graphics, I’d recommend being creative but subtle. Sometimes, people will try to counteract a lack of practical work experience by overloading their CV with images, colourful flourishes and a visual barrage. Be careful here, it’s important to have a balance which gives enough of a flavour of your design skills but also allows for the written information to be easily accessible, not hidden in a mass of drawings. Remember the most important thing is that you impart relevant and easy to find information to the person reading the CV. Be detailed and allow them to see how you could add value to their business. Let the graphics complement this.

The information above should form the basis of your CV and as a graduate should probably be around 1 ½ pages to 2 pages long and for more experienced candidates up to 4 or 5 pages. It does not need to be any longer than this and avoid writing a CV containing a lot of pages – people simply won’t read all of it!

I hope you have found this guide useful – please feel free to post any comments or questions you have about writing a CV.

Chinese City Fact: Tianjin

    Tianjin was selected by Airbus to be the location of their first aircraft factory outside of Europe to manufacture their A320 model. A clear indication from the aircraft builder as to which market they see being their biggest in the future.

    FAL A380photo © 2010 Laurent Jégou | more info (via: Wylio)


    For more on Tianjin, please visit:


Know Your Cities!

By James Long

If you are looking to relocate to Asia, particularly China, it goes without saying that you really need to do your research. Not necessarily just about the city you are planning to live in but also about the region you are planning to work in.

Take China for example. There are over 160 cities with more than 1 million people. For those of you reading in the UK, that’s 160 cities the same size or bigger than Birmingham. In the US that’s 160 cities the same size or bigger than Detroit. In the UK there are 3 cities with more than 1 million people and 10 in the US. And most of these are MUCH bigger than their Western counterparts. In China there are 12 cities alone with populations of more than 5 million people! If you’re looking at an Administrative Area (equivalent to a “Greater Manchester” type area) then the biggest in China has more than 32,000,000 inhabitants – and I would bet that not many of you could guess which area that was…Chongqing!

There are these vast cities which outsiders have rarely heard of which are developing at a pace not seen in the West since the industrial revolution. Ask someone to name 5 big US cities and most people will do so with no problem. Do the same with China and most people can get to 3, maybe 4 but not often more than that. What’s more, they’re only going to continue to grow and develop over the coming decades.

Why is all this important? Well if you are coming to China you will probably be based in either Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. These are large, well developed and Westernised cities. They are relatively easy to move and settle into and their skylines, infrastructure and buildings are similar to other cities around the world. The pace of growth in these cities is good but has been slowing. As such, most companies based in these hubs are now focusing on developing projects in other cities in China, the so called second and third tier cities. Developers, architects, engineering firms and many other construction related companies are all pushing hard to win contracts and projects in places such as Tianjin, Shenyang, Wuhan, Dalian…the list is almost endless. These companies need their staff to travel to these unusual sounding cities, to understand what is being planned and to try to help them take advantage of the staggering potential.

Take Shenzhen as an example. Now known globally for being the manufacturing hub for pretty much anything, it’s population has swelled from a few thousand inhabitants in 1978 (see fig. 1) to more than 14 million in 2008 (see fig. 2)! There is one factory that employs more than 400,000 people alone, or the population of Bristol in the UK or Minneapolis in the US!


Fig 1. Shenzhen 1978 -  credit to:


Fig 2. Shenzhen 2008 -  credit to:

But what of all these numbers and facts? What does it all mean to those thinking of making the move to China? Well it’s about being informed and prepared, much more so than you would need to be almost anywhere else. It’s about realising that a client meeting in Chengdu will be vastly different to a client meeting in Xiamen. It’s about understanding what the different cities and people want from their buildings and infrastructure. True, most big cities want large scale retail malls, but does the average non-Chinese candidate realise why a mall in Shenyang will be very different to a mall in Chonqing*? It’s about understanding that this is a country with a way of doing business that is alien to most Westerners. A lot of companies have come to China and failed, simply because they haven’t understood the vast differences that exist between cities located geographically very close together. Some cities plan to be cultural hubs, others manufacturing centres. Each city has it’s own ambitions, government institutes and local businesses and taking the time to look outside of the big three (Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong) can make all the difference both for your company in China and for you personally and professionally.

I’ll leave you with two examples I have personally experienced which I think highlight what I’ve been describing. The first is about a candidate I placed who was relocating over from the UK to work with a company in Shanghai. He stepped off the plane on the Sunday only to step onto another plane on the Monday to fly to Chongqing (he hadn’t heard of it either) to meet a client. In that meeting the client said very little and smoked, my candidate said very little and smiled. At the end they shook hands and the client was satisfied with the person that had been appointed to his project and has since done a great deal of work with him, all from sitting down and just quietly sounding him out.

The second is from a meeting with a client of mine in Shenzhen. Whilst in his office on the 30th floor of one of the many towers, he took me to his office window and pointed at the skyline and asked “James, do you know what we need to do here in China in the next decade? We need to build a new United States.” When I asked what he meant by this he explained:

“Do you realise that more than 300 million people, the same number of people as in the US, will move from the countryside to cities in the next 10-15 years? That’s people that need housing, infrastructure, hospitals, schools, shops…and most of these people will be based in cities you probably haven’t even heard of.”

I thought about this for a few seconds and I admitted that I did not realise this, not even close. But I have since started to learn about my Xi’an’s, my Nanjing’s, my Qingdao’s and my Hangzhou’s. For anyone thinking about the move over I’d highly recommend you do the same!

PS. From now on I will post one interesting fact each week about a city in China.

* I’ll give you a clue, it’s to do with the vast differences in their climates

Welcome to our blog

In this, our first post to our Ellicott Long blog, let me just outline what we hope to achieve with this blog. We set this up to act as a useful source of information for people interested in or thinking about working in the Property and Construction sector in Asia.

Over the coming weeks and months we will publish a series of articles that aim to give you an insight into the Asia Property and Construction industry. These won’t be limited to just providing tips on how to find work but will also include articles with information on projects, news and the markets in general. We hope to be able to provide a genuinely useful selection of posts that you can refer to and read with interest.

We actively encourage real interaction and feedback through our blog. Each month we will provide you with an update on the job market in the region which will include our latest job postings, news and views on how we have seen things develop over that month. In addition we will be posting regular polls and surveys to encourage comment and debate on various topics.

You can interact with us at Ellicott Long by subscribing to our blog. Please enter your email address in the “Email Subscription” box on the right side of this blog site. You will then receive a notification whenever we post a new article.

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