Job market adapts to the needs of a technological age

Following the changing trends of industries as well as the evolving preference of job candidates, recruitment companies in China are adjusting themselves in a technological age. 

Matching job-seekers with companies needing employees through online platforms worked well when the trend began, but digital recruitment began to show some cracks as users greatly multiplied.

“This is a pain point in the industry,” said Guo Tao, general manager of Zhaopin.com’s Shanghai branch.

He said that the platform now has more than 600,000 corporate subscribers and 120 million active individual users. Both sides are complaining about inefficiencies in the system.

As a result, Zhaopin.com plans to expand its research and development force and adopt state-of-the-art technologies like big data and artificial intelligence to provide better matches and even advice to users.

The company is repositioning itself as a “career development platform” which will guide prospective job applicants in their career decisions.

“We are aiming to provide more products and more channels to three main target groups: college students, white-collar workers and senior executives,” Guo said.

Zhaopin.com used to rely on its advertising and sales team for revenue. Now it wants to strengthen the services it provides to users.

“Recruitment, after all, is a low-frequency thing,” said Guo. “We not only hope customers will come to us for help when they want to change their jobs, we also want to be able to predict when that decision might occur.”

The platform plans to provide advice to their users on improving job skills based on their search footprints. It also aims to operate online communities.

BRecruit, a firm specializing in recruiting middle- to senior-level professionals in the Asia-Pacific region, said one of its clients, an auto company in Nanjing, was looking for new “creative” talent but it had no benchmark to measure what it meant by creativity.

“We could ask candidates whether they could design the next generation of cars, but nobody knows exactly how those cars will look like,” said Pete Chia, BRecruit’s president.

Because it is a new and emerging sector, candidates don’t necessarily possess relevant experience, so BRecruit needs to look for people who are keen, have the potential to adapt and are willing to work hard in vanguard jobs.

The recruitment sector follows the changing trends of industries. Hiring in the past was a lot simpler, Chia said, because the job requirements of company clients were relatively straightforward.

But now clients themselves often don’t know what types of people they need to hire. Recruitment firms must offer consulting services and solutions for clients.

BRecruit used to segregate its team by industries and work in a vertical way. Now it is building cross-functional teams and encouraging consultants to work in clusters that cut across industries.


Further reforms

At the recent Boao Forum for Asia President Xi Jinping promised that China will do more to open world access to its markets.

Chia said the new policies are very “bold and good” and more foreign investment will follow soon.

David Chan, chief executive officer of recruitment firm Bólè Associates, predicted that deregulation of financial services, for example, will require more talent in areas such as asset and wealth management. Returning Chinese with expertise in finance will find golden new opportunities, he said.

And for non-Chinese, who used to need big pay incentives to come to China, working on the mainland now is more regarded big step up the career ladder.

“Today, if your CV shows that you have worked in China, it will be a big boost for a career,” Chia said.

Chia said he sees “endless possibilities” for those seeking work in China.

“If you are good at singing, you can stream your music live and make a lot of money today,” he said, by way of one example.

Economic development in China’s tier two and tier three cities is also a big plus in driving the jobs market.

To ride the trend, Bólè established a new business called Single Specialization Team last year. The company said it’s aimed at companies that need speed of operational execution, especially in cutting-edge sectors.

Second-tier cities like Chengdu and Wuhan are betting big on industries like gaming and e-learning, which have a big demand for talent, according to Jeff Yang, a team leader at Bólè.

Zhaopin.com’s Guo said his company is now working with local governments like Chengdu to implement recruitment initiatives.

In early May, Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province, released new recruitment polices that include housing subsidies and other incentives. Start-ups, an emerging engine of the local economy, are eligible for up to 100 million yuan (US$15.8 million) in financing.

“The competitiveness of provinces and cities boils down to the quality of talent they can attract,” said Guo.


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