SJ Team不時都收到一些刁鑽問題，不時拋磚引玉希望吸引到臥虎藏龍的 SJ 讀者回答。今次讀者是一位23歲即將畢業的大學生，他手上已經有一間他十分鍾愛的工作offer (Feasiblity analyst)，佢認為呢份工的性質同做政府AO有些共同點，不同在AO是政府工，而他做的是商界。他想瞭解2018年的香港，綜合殘酷的社會現實，入政府做AO還有前景嗎？
“I would be also grateful if I can raise a “SJ Discuss” topic about Administrative Officer (AO) in the HKSAR Government as I believe this is the best platform that attracts the right people to join the discussion.
My question is simple – “Is it still good to be an AO in HK today?”. I understand that AO is deemed to be one of the most prestigious jobs in HK. To name a few factors contributing that, it could be the competitive compensation package, clear and structured career path, exciting job nature and rotation opportunities, a platform to practice and exercise leadership skills, meaningful job nature and being able to serve the society, job satisfaction/ pride in contributing to the HK development, great recognition from others. However, I wonder if the AO position is still worth taking today. This is due to the increasing job pressure from the general public/ LegCo members, incompetent leader/ colleagues in the government, uncertainties of Hong Kong development after 2047, and bureaucratic and inefficient working culture. Personally, one may become less innovative, unambitious, physically and mentally exhausted because of the long working hours, and the potential cost of receiving a better compensation package if you become successful in commercial sector (i.e. top management in a listed company or a successful entrepreneur). As the earliest batch of AO offers will be released in May, I believe many SJ readers are dying to receive an offer these days. But I also believe that many of them have received multiple offers at this stage. By looking deeply into the pros and cons of an AO offer in short and long-term perspectives, I hope this inspires many of the best talents in HK to make a better career decision, choose their own path and contribute to the society.
補充：To add on to the AO discussion topic, I would also like to raise a few more questions. Currently, I am a final-year student who will soon graduate in July. Recently, I have received a feasibility analyst offer that I really love – from the job nature, company, compensation package, career path and team dynamics/ culture. In fact, I had actually worked there as an intern before. So I am very sure that I love my job and the team, and I am very grateful to have received an offer from them again.
On the other side, I felt the job nature of AO is actually somehow similar to my offer– both are strategic planning. While my offer is about business research, interview/ meetings, data/ information analysis, report writing, AO is about policy research, stakeholder meetings, data/ information analysis and answering enquiries/ writing press release/ reports. Forget the initial 2-3 times differences in terms of compensation benefits, the only difference for the two positions is about “the sector”- either commercial or government.
Therefore, compared to a very generic question in previous email, I would like to ask some personal questions now.
1. Considering the fact that I will be turning to 23 this year, there is still 2-3 years time for me to make changes in career planning. As both offers are strategic-planning related, is it worthwhile for me to give up an offer that I love, and give myself 2-3 years to try whether I enjoy working as an AO? If I receive an AO offer now and reject it afterwards, would I be black-listed from the recruitment system in the future?
2. I would assume there are three possible outcomes if I become an AO. First, I will be enjoying my work as it is very meaningful and retire as a SAO/ AOSGC/ higher. Second, I will be quitting after 2-3 years as I realised that my passion is still about feasibility. Third, I will be quitting in my middle age and decide to work in other sectors instead. In the second and third scenarios, what would be the exit paths for an AO? And what would the recruiters perceive an applicant as an former-AO?
3. Growing up from a very modest family and studying in local schools in Hong Kong, I would appreciate if there is an AO who can share his/ her AO life, how they choose their career, and how do they look themselves in the next 5-10 years (i.e. job responsibilities, work environment, career path, work-life balance, family, personal interests etc.) ”
“With all due respect, the folks who answered, though doubtlessly acting in the best of motives, might not be so well-versed with the job duties of AO or how the HKSAR Government runs.
First of all, AO is very different from most of the other “civil service” jobs. It is extremely demanding with a bloody steep learning curve at all ranks, because AOs are expected to be posted around different policy bureaux and/or taking strategic positions in Government departments. They are responsible for developing Government policies, sorting out the all the functional and political aspects and nuances in the drafting of laws and doing resource planning accordingly, dealing with stakeholders/public opinion/LegCo queries, all of which are daunting tasks with little room for failure.
In return, compared to any other civil service jobs, AOs enjoy a very good promotion prospect – AOs who join the Government right off the bat will, assuming they pass the trial period, be promoted to SAO (salary at MPS 45 – $112,250 + about 30k of housing allowance) in 3- 5 year’s time. So if one joins AO at the age of 23, he/she can already be making six-figures before he reaches 30. Not to mention AOs will get fast-tracked promotion to Directorate positions after, easily making close to 200k per month by the age of 40. Though this can be beaten by top jobs in certain industries such as ibanks, this is by no means “stable but slow growth” as some might have put it. The career prospect is excellent. Some might even enjoy the privilege of hopping to higher-paying public sector jobs (think West Kowloon).”
“Let me be more simple and to the point on your question. It’s pretty pointless to compare 2 jobs purely based on your analysis without having experience working as an AO.
What are you ultimately looking for? Personally I think money (weighted average of today’s salary, long term salary and job stability) should be the most important factor.
Have you done due diligence on both offers? Do you know what are the hours and pay like for both jobs?
I don’t know about the feasibility analyst but I can tell you AO in the government makes way more than 50k as stated on the website.
You will get promoted to SAO, making the max salary of an AO just a few years on the job and have a very decent job stability.
Also, remember the 10 year housing benefit government provide (take it when you become SAO) and the fat pension package.
If you are not a particularly strong or lucky candidate, you will have a hard time to find such a lucrative offer in the corporate world even in your late 30s.
Those who tell you to think about satisfaction or whatever non-monetatry terms probably forgot about the stability and salary AO offers. They only talk about the pressure the dissatisfaction the hours, etc. Sounds as if these factors do not happen in the corporate world.
Btw, I work in investment banking, not HKGov fyi. So I can assure these are purely facts that you should consult with older folks, not some youngsters chasing dream all day without considering the future.”
“Take the feasibility analyst offer. Think long-term about your career and your life goals. What kind of person do you want to become? The rest is just noise. Yes, you might enjoy an easy and convenient answer for societal judgments or gossips as an AO, but this is your life. It’s not worth it to sacrifice your career for people who will gossip regardless (If they take satisfaction out of judging your career, oh yes they will also take satisfaction gossiping about your salary, rank, pace of promotion, title etc.).
1) The further down you are in your career path, the harder it is to switch career. Switching costs gets higher:
Let’s imagine for a moment that somewhere along the path, you’ll find this perfect career named “X” in mind. If you switch 2-3 years after starting as an AO, you are losing 2-3 years of developing industry expertise for “X”. Even though your skill sets are transferrable, you almost always have to take a toll as you transfer industry. Your new role, in the first 1-2 years, will be the equivalent of AO. While your peers enjoy a promotion 2-3 years after staying in “X”, you are in fact a year or two lagging in behind.
Now, let’s say you are switching industry in your 50s. You can’t be a lawyer, a doctor, any other professionals without some heavy schooling for a shortening career timeline before retirement. You can be an entrepreneur, or you can move into some high-level management roles in the non-government industry. While you do have financial securities / capital, remember that most entrepreneurs have actual skills before they start something. Does AO develop a core competency for you? The ability to create, not to facilitate. Also, you might be thinking differently about life when you are in your 50s.
Finally, government is government is government. And it so happens that you are working for the Hong Kong government. Unless you are also a foreign citizen who may publicly serve another country, your field is in fact quite limited. Are you into serving the community? (Or I guess dependent on your political attitude, are you into serving the government?) This is the most personal question of all.
Like golf, in your first job, shoot as close as possible to the pole (your life goal) and then adjust from there. Why satisfy for some mediocracy for all that society tells you when your heart knows already? Good luck. “
“Working as an AO isn’t targeting on high salary and stable future. But you have to ask yourself are you willing to satisfy for government and the society. As you getting the AO offer means your are very good in many areas. Which means you can also become a shinning star in private sector. So the decision shall base on do you really want to end your life as an government staff. If yes, you are satisfy, as serving the public is your goal. Do it. If you just want higher salary but in fact the nature of government job is not your cup of tea, the stable income and future shall not be the reason you get into this industry. As you will return to private sector eventually and the year you spend in government won’t be a great asset in your CV.”
“個人感覺，年輕時覺得兩者都無所謂，做耐左就有分別。做政府人工係穩定，年年加，父母親戚一定話係no brainer；但加得一定比人慢，你望住身邊d 朋友火箭咁升，你都仲係每年加個point⋯同事質素參差，工作環境無競爭力，呢d 都令到個人好頹；做得3、5、7年你想轉工，又開始擔心原來其他公司會裁員，暮然回首，不如算數，放下心神諗家庭、嗜好，甚至好似d 同事咁睇下股、樓，咁就係我認知的政府工了。最理想應該係打拼一排先入政府，但又有幾多次俾你入政府嘅機會呢？”
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