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by Mary Anne Thompson, TopMBA | February 10, 2011


By Mary Anne Thompson, president and founder, Going Global Inc. 


China boasts not only the world's third largest economy, but also its fastest growing. Experts report the country’s rapid recovery from the global economic downturn is due “largely to its enormous monetary and fiscal stimulus” plan. China's economy is robust, and this is evident in its record employment growth. A recent survey of more than 3,000 Chinese employers reveals the most active hiring pace the country has seen in years.

Across all sectors, hiring expectations are more than twice as high as in 2009. The highest expectations are in the banking and financial services sector, with 79% of respondents planning to increase headcount. Domestic and overseas banks are creating many new positions and offering higher pay to attract needed candidates.

Need for talent

The need for financial talent in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou is urgent, with reports of as many as nine job vacancies for every professional, and the situation may grow worse. The talent hunt is especially intense in these cities, because they are home to a number of financial companies. The five financial positions most in demand include stockbrokers, futures managers, fund managers, client managers at banks and investment managers.

Expectations are nearly as high for the IT sector, where 71% of respondents expect to recruit more staff. IT employers suffered during the downturn, but as budgets are “unfrozen,” demand for many types of IT specialists is growing rapidly.

As Chinese companies continue to expand, some are experiencing difficulty filling new positions. Recent surveys show 40% of Chinese employers are having difficulty filling positions due to the lack of suitable talent in their markets. Among the most difficult positions to fill in China are: production operators, technicians, management/executives, sales managers, sales representatives, restaurants and hotel staff, engineers and IT staff.

There is also great demand for talent to fill new energy jobs in businesses ranging from wind to solar. These companies include well-known international giants such as Danish wind power equipment maker Vestas, as well as an increasing number of domestic companies, including Himin Solar, which launched an ambitious recruitment plan this year.  One reason for the current shortage of science and technology talent in China may be the long-term brain drain of the country’s best and brightest, who left home for education and employment abroad. Also many Chinese science and technology graduates do not meet the international standards or global orientation currently in demand by employers.

Expatriate recruitment

Despite the need for talent, the outlook for expatriates in China is not optimistic. The global economic crisis has caused many companies to reconsider the management of their expatriate assignments and packages in the downturn. A recent study revealed only 11.3% of companies planned to expand the expatriate population last year, and 51.7% planned to maintain it. The study also showed Asian assignees at the levels of director and manager were most affected, while the demand continued for top executives.

Many companies in China are working hard to retain the talent they have even as they search for more to fill new positions. Raises of 10% to 20% are common in China, as talent shortages make retention vital. Both figures are much higher than for the other Asian markets.

A recent survey showed 73% of Chinese organizations expect to hire managerial staff over the next three months. Combined with a relatively low rate of letting people go (17%), the results indicate a strong employment market, which is improving all the time. As China works to harness talent within and without its borders to fill an abundance of positions, its economy continues to grow. A major player on the world stage, it is a country to watch as it sets trends in growing sectors like green technology and breaks its own employment growth records.


Tips for a successful job interview in China

  • Be punctual. Punctuality is extremely important in China. Timeliness for an interview is of the utmost importance. It is considered a serious insult to be late or cancel an appointment.
  • Formal dress is required at the interview.
  • A light handshake in greeting is to be expected, although it is best to follow the lead of the interviewer.
  • Good posture, a quiet voice and a respect for silence are all desirable traits and will be respected by the interviewer.

Chinese Protocol and Business Etiquette  

  • Clothes and accessories should be stylish but discreet. For men, traditional dark business suits in subdued colors are appropriate. Women typically wear suits or more formal dresses. Shoes should be flat or with very low heels, especially if one is taller than the host.
  • Business entertainment in China consists of an evening meal, a banquet or perhaps attendance at a cultural event.
  • Officially, women have the same rights as men in the workplace. Foreign businesswomen can expect to be treated with great respect and courtesy; however, they may still find the Chinese are more likely to defer to a male colleague, assuming the male is naturally the decision maker.

Recommended Job Sites (Chinese and English)
One of China’s leading recruitment websites, was founded in 1997 by Alliance Consulting Ltd., the first foreign headhunting company in Mainland China., a bilingual job board, has a vast amount of job information for Chinese and foreign companies and jobseekers. This website also provides a professional résumé/CV center free of charge to jobseekers.

Insight.China (English)
Insight.China is a joint project of the ‘New Times International Education Services’ and ‘Hebei Province International Education and Exchange Association.’ This joint project, endorsed by the Hebei Education Bureau, brings together the resources of both parties to promote exchange between China and the rest of the world.

FESCO China (Chinese, English, and Japanese)
Beijing Foreign Enterprise Human Resources Service Co., Ltd. (FESCO) is the first professional service provider in China that offers a wide variety of human resources solutions to foreign enterprises, representative offices, financial institutions and business entities. It serves nearly 6,000 foreign and domestic companies from more than 100 countries and regions. It also provides services to nearly 100,000 Chinese staff who are working as officers, advisors, technology R&D staff, marketing and sales representatives, human resources managers and administrators.

Amrop Hever China (English)
Amrop Hever China, part of the Amrop Hever Group, is located in Beijing and is one of the world’s largest partnerships of independent and entrepreneurial executive search companies. While the focus is on executive search services, it also operates in the areas of executive development and executive education.


Filed Under: Job Search

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