Hong Kong professionals among world's snobbiest, and they're deceitful too

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2015, 3:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2015, 3:13pm

Hong Kong has more than its fair share of professional snobs who are quick to judge another person based on their appearance in a photo, according to a global survey.

The city's white-collar workers are keenly aware of the importance of keeping up appearances - online and in the office - even if it means lying about their career history, the survey also found.

The New Norms @Work study, of 15,000 full-time professionals from 19 countries and regions, found 33 per cent of Hong Kong respondents formed an initial impression of others based on how they appeared in their profile photos on social media. Professionals in China were the world's snobbiest, topping the table at 38 per cent, followed by India at 33.7 per cent.

The research was conducted last month by social network LinkedIn and survey company Censuswide.

Respondents were also asked how often they changed their profile pictures. Millennials - those aged 25 to 34, and who make up 43 per cent of Hong Kong's workforce - changed them more often than other age group. By profession, those working in recruitment, fashion, luxury goods and hospitality tended to change their profile pictures more frequently than others.

At 51 per cent, Indonesia had the highest proportion of white-collar respondents who said they put careful thought into choosing their professional profile picture; Japan had the lowest at just 4 per cent. For Hong Kong, the figure was 21.5 per cent.

"Almost a quarter of surveyed Hong Kong professionals believe it is more appropriate to self-promote on social media now than ever before," says Deepa Sapatnekar, head of communications for India and Hong Kong at LinkedIn.

"In today's digital age, your profile photo is often your chance for a first impression.

"It's critical for professionals of all ages to put their best foot forward by leveraging social media to establish their professional brand," Sapatnekar says.

Employees will go to great lengths to ensure their "professional brand remains clean", even if it means being dishonest, according to the survey. Some 36 per cent of Hong Kong professionals admitted that if they were fired by an employer, they would try to hide this information by pretending they had left the job of their own accord. Young professionals with most of their career ahead of them were the most likely to do so, including 48 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 40 per cent of millennials.

A separate survey last year by Harris Interactive in the US found half the people who used profile photos edited the pictures before posting them online. The most common changes included removing blemishes and adding colour to their faces.