AS MACAU RACES to become the Las Vegas of the east, companies in the enclave are trying desperately to fill vacancies. Employers in sectors linked to the booming gaming industry are seeking candidates from Macau, Hong Kong and beyond. Human resources professionals said that while salaries in Macau might not catch up with pay scales in Hong Kong soon, openings there were more likely to provide job satisfaction. They said that employers should focus on this aspect to lure recruits. Choi Siu-lin, a Hong Kong-based associate director at Mercer Human Resource Consulting, said employers there should not think that the only way to attract staff from outside of Macau or retain existing employees was by offering high pay and benefits. Many people were becoming more amenable to accepting challenging, but less lucrative, jobs, especially in Hong Kong. 'The job market in Hong Kong is not so good. Since 1997, Hong Kong graduates are more realistic,' said Ms Choi, who specialises in performance, measurement and rewards. 'For example, if they go to work in China they know they will not be able to command the same level of salaries. Instead, they might go for experience, or for training and development.' Ms Choi said many professionals from Hong Kong and beyond were interested in working in Macau because they wanted to be part of its emergence as a major gambling hub. Employers are expanding their recruitment drives beyond Macau because of a shortage of skilled labour in the gaming and supporting industries. But while Hong Kong candidates might speak better English than those from Macau, they should not think that they have the edge, said Humphrey Ng, consultant at Levin Human Resources Development, a consulting firm based in Hong Kong with offices in Macau, Guangzhou and Zhuhai. 'People assume that young employees in Macau constantly jump from one job to the next because there are so many opportunities around,' Mr Ng said. 'But we're finding quite a number of down to earth candidates from Macau who stick at their jobs,' he added. Mr Ng has interviewed job candidates from Macau and Hong Kong. He said those from Hong Kong sometimes focused too much energy on giving sharp, witty responses to questions. 'In contrast, Macau candidates pour their hearts out during an interview,' he said. 'They give honest responses and talk about their career plans and goals.' 'Negotiating with a Hong Kong candidate is like deal-making. With a Macau candidate, it is trust-making,' said Samson Lam, the legal adviser and chief executive of Levin Human Resources Development. Vaishnavi Muralidharan, associate director of Mercer Human Resource Consulting, said that employers must be prepared for a certain amount of staff turnover and they should think long term. 'They have to position themselves and Macau is attractive enough for people to come, so their cost of recruitment can come down in time,' she said. She predicted that job-matching agencies and HR professionals would soon be established in Macau to help these employers.