Recruiting in China

The following will be covered:

  • Analysing the Chinese labour market
  • Recruitment channels
  • Professional agency

Analysing the Chinese labour market

You’ll be glad to know that China boasts world’s largest labour market, which means a wide, expansive talent pool that spoils you for choice when it comes to hiring prospective employees. Job growth is one of the key items on the government’s agenda, as seen in 2019 when a goal was set for 11 million urban jobs, a target which was easily surpassed by 2.2 million, ultimately resulting in 13.2 million jobs being created.

The service sector accounts for almost half of China’s GDP, therefore, it is unsurprising that this sector is leading in employment. China’s young are becoming increasingly educated, thus there continues to be a growing influx of graduates entering the market, equipped with impressive skillsets and outstanding qualifications, and these graduates like to set their sights on popular job sectors of e-commerce, internet, consulting, education, media and culture. There appears to be tough competition in the fields of internet and e-commerce as demonstrated by a rapid growth of candidates disproportionately to the job openings in these areas in 2018. Furthermore, the competition for jobs was reported to be at an average applicants-to-jobs ratio of 32:1 in 2019.

The thriving economy naturally leads to changes in the labour market, resulting in increased wages and more high-skilled labour. In 2018, the average salary of a white-collar position in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing was observed to be approximately RMB 10,000 per month. A high amount, yet still reported to be insufficient to meet the living expenses of these cities. Nevertheless, social insurance premiums and minimum wages have been growing continuously every year.

Recruitment channels

There is no doubt that you’ll never be short of talent in the Chinese labour market, however, procuring talent is a different matter. China adopts a rather unique approach to recruitment, differentiating itself from other countries. In addition to recruiting through variety of Chinese online platforms, it is a common approach to use existing personal connections to find workers, a practice which may not be so prominent elsewhere.

Being the largest online community in the world, the internet has revolutionized all areas of life in China, including the job sector. A recent trend that can be observed is the growth in smartphone usage which has led to an array of job platforms available primarily on smartphones but can also be accessed on other devices. When using these platforms for recruitment, it is expected to communicate in Chinese, therefore, you may need help and guidance from professionals who are familiar with the local recruitment norms.

WeChat is the super-app in China used for anything and everything, and this of course, does not excluded headhunting. Some recruiters even prefer this over traditional career sites as they can advertise job vacancies on their newsfeed to attract someone from their existing connections or make an official announcement through a public account.

Zhaopin began as a headhunting firm in 1994 and is now one of the leading career platforms in China. It mainly targets white-collar workers in tier-1 and tier-2 cities and has over 100 million registered white-collar workers.

Liepin is the largest professional community-based recruitment platform launched in 2011. It provides paid and offline services to customers, charging a fee to professional members, while allowing head-hunters access free of charge. Using Liepin, users can post jobs, download resumes and connect with prospective candidates.

Boss Zhipin is the latest APP in the recruitment sector, boasting registered jobseekers of over 809 million along with over 11.7 million employers. It provides a unique advantage over other platforms by allowing jobseekers to bypass the offline interviewing process and reach out to employers directly using the application.

LinkedIn is a popular American career platform, but with over 40 million Chinese users. It is an ideal site for finding candidates with a good command of English and overseas experience. It is also used for networking and is popular amongst white-collar workers.

However, the main method for recruitment used locally in China is hiring through personal networks. Many Chinese companies and recruiters leverage their own existing personal connections to find talent. This is an excellent strategy, as confirmed by a report by LinkedIn, which stated the number one method for job discovery is through referrals. In fact, the same report mentioned 70% of the global workforce consists of passive talent who are not actively seeking for new opportunities, while only 30% are active job seekers. A staggering 87% of both active and passive candidates are open to new opportunities.

It is, therefore, unsurprising that finding candidates through personal networks is a common recruitment tactic in China since it delivers the best results. However, as a company which has just entered the local market, you may have yet to establish your local network, and therefore may wish to turn to a professional headhunting agency to utilize their connections to secure the best talent for your business.

Professional Agency

Many businesses resort to using a professional recruitment agency when entering the Chinese market. More often than not, the best candidates cannot be found through traditional recruitment. This is particularly true in China where personal connections are strongly emphasized, so much so that there is an entire word to refer to such a practice: 关系 (guanxi). In other words, due to the cultural practice of 关系 (guanxi) in China, best results are often achieved through use of personal networks.

A professional agency already has an extensive, well-established network of employees from a range of sectors with a complete, detailed profile of every candidate. Due to an active presence in the Chinese market and in-depth expertise, an agency is in the best position to procure talent that meets the client’s precise specifications. Furthermore, a professional agency can assist beyond the initial stage of recruitment but also deal with HR administration and management of the employees, allowing the client to direct their focus where it most needed, such as business strategy.

Many businesses find agencies to be a cost-efficient solution in the long-term as opposed to investing in resources themselves to find talent, which can be not only expensive but also a comparatively slower process.

Evidently, the labour market in China consists of a wide pool of talented individuals, however, navigating through the recruitment channels in China can be tricky. This is the reason most businesses choose to outsource recruitment to a professional agency which has the right tools and expertise to carry out this important step on behalf of the company.