Recently had the chance to speak with the founder of NewChinaCareer.com about opportunities and the current Chinese recruitment environment. Here are some of his observations and insights, including some specific examples.
1. What is the typical demographic of job seekers who visit your site?
All are bilingual professionals from different disciplines. Many are trying to move to China, and while it’s not a big number, it’s definitely picking up.
For these individuals, my first recommendation is that they have to get on a plane and get over here. You’re not going to get hired remotely. You actually have to be here and do the face to face stuff.
2. What advice do you have for people looking for work in China?
When people send out their resumes or direct employers, put the home address as your [relative’s/friend’s] address in China to show that you have a local base. A lot of people will overlook your application simply by virtue that you don’t have a base in China.
3. What are the opportunities for business students?
Pretty limited, unless you went to work for a multinational like the big consulting/accounting firms and then get transferred over. Even if you do have Chinese skills, the most important thing is to have are the business skills.
Management skills are the primary thing … you can’t simply translate from the environment, and need to be culturally aware and culturally sensitive. Management skills are the most pressing requirement in China. In particular, project management in the software industry is needed.
4. Have you seen increased interest among your individual clients in learning Chinese?
There are more and more people doing that but learning the Chinese language in itself is not a major thing. In my experience it’s actually much more important to be culturally acute and to have business management skills.
5. Where do you see the Chinese job recruiting market going in the next year? Five years?
The Shanghai government recently held a roadshow for finance-related jobs that went to major cities like Frankfurt and London, which didn’t seem to be particularly successful. The idea that just because there are opportunities in China and economies are tanking in U.S. and Europe doesn’t mean that everyone can just go there and land a job. There are major management culture problems.
In the big state owned enterprises (SOEs), the Party still dominates, and the overall business culture is pretty difficult for someone from the West.
A lot of people may think that if you’re ethnically Chinese, going to China is easy but it’s not. If you’ve gone to the States, you may find a it really difficult to fit back in again – there’s a reverse culture shock. It’s not an easy thing to get back into the Chinese way of doing things.
If you look at some of the really good companies, the “white goods” company (e.g. Haier), they’re pretty good at branching into different markets.
Lenovo – if you look at Lenovo we’re still finding out what’s gone wrong there. There’s management structure problems that still linger today.
Alibaba — looking to hire 3,000 people outside of china this year. it’s a different kind of company than one that’s grown out of an SOE.
Companies that are more international from the beginning are going to be better when the economy emerges from this financial crisis.
6. How has the economic downturn affected your business?
For our particular business, we’re doing better than this time last year. There’s a lot of job ads. Companies are still recruiting, just not in the same volumes.
Other job boards like ChinaHR, Zhaopin, and 51jobs have been suffering quite a bit. There are cutbacks with 25% of foreign invested companies projected to lay people off during the next quarter. Compared to the rest of the world, however, the situation in China is probably going to be a bit more stable. For industries where there’s heavy dependence of Chinese economy on export markets, it’ll be a lot more bumpy.
7. How have the qualifications listed by employers changed?
The job descriptions have become more specific. Companies realized that they made a lot of mistakes promoting people above their abilities at a lot of Western companies.
The site has 10,000 – 11,000 jobs posted on average everyday. Most fall within the accounting, finance, consulting, and IT areas, with property management jobs on the rise.
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