Tag Archives: Beijing Recruitment

HR: Graduates Season Again!

The frenzy of news coverage over 6.99 million Chinese college graduates with merely 33.6% contract signing rate up to 1 May, has greatly shocked lots of people. Most blame the low figurefor the economic slowdown, as well as the increasing number of graduates. However, I think these are just superficial reasons under the general macroeconomic situation. What needs to be found out should originate from the root-cause of the dilemma, either from college graduates or recruiting companies.

Like a river fish imagining its fantastic life in the huge ocean, a fresh college graduate has so many expectations or even fantasies for his or her future career in society. When I read a piece of news about graduates looking for jobs in SOEs and public institutions, I was a bit confused. Lots of college graduates expect to, and actually only look for jobs in SOEs and government institutions for the benefits of the so called “iron rice bowl”. In this case, instead of focusing on improving one’s working ability, Chinese college students seem to find a stable job for a lifetime. Another interesting contradiction I noticed is about the salary expectation. According to an online research project, 33% of undergraduates’ salary expectation is between CNY 3,000 and CNY 3,999. Additionally, 20% of students expect CNY 4,000 to CNY 4,999. However, the average monthly salary foreign companies can afford this year is 3,412 Yuan for undergraduates, which is actually the highest compared with other types. As for public units, 2,858 Yuan is what they can pay for an undergraduate on average, which is the lowest among all types. When the dream that a college student dreams is disillusioned, what is left behind are the senses of loss and disappointment. Then why not try to lower one’s expectation in the beginning but end up with a surprise?

Remember that it always takes two to tango! College graduates bear their responsibility, while recruiting companies also have a part to play in this dilemma. I want to mention two points here: Firstly, does educational background matter? Elite universities or 211 and 985 project universities are specifically noted on the job description of quite a few companies. Though these are prestigious universities in China, they do not necessarily have all the elite and intelligent students. There are so many excellent and creative students out there. Therefore, it is time for recruiting units to re-think about the necessity of a ‘famous’ educational background. Secondly, should recruiting companies give opportunities to those who have small defects? I am sure that lots of recruiting companies have met students with hard working attitudes but with less overall intelligence. Whether or not to employ this kind of graduate becomes a real problem. To be honest, based on personal experiences, I prefer hard working ones, and I increasingly cringe when I’m told he or she is ‘very smart’. In the Chinese education system, there is indeed less emphasis on practice compared to the western education system. Therefore, recruiting companies should not expect too much from the fresh graduates in the beginning, but I know a gem with a flaw can be polished as a perfect one with enough time.

Before long, I had an interview with a fresh college graduate who wanted to get a full time offer from my company. I asked about his salary expectation. This boy came up with 5,000 Yuan. He tried to explain the reason with the cost of living in this city like housing and food. To some degree, I understand his argument. However, I barely agreed with it. When hiring a person, a recruitment company pays for what this person can do and bring for the company. I don’t really know companies that set salaries based on the costs of living in a city. When a college graduate looks for jobs, he or she needs to come with the right motivation and attitude, for that is the real value that recruiting companies are expecting.

Though people think 2013 is a tough year for college graduates, personally I think this is still a tough time for companies to recruit too. To get rid of the dilemma, reasonable assessment and a rethinking of the expectations of college students are of course necessary. But at the same time, recruiting companies also needs to make some adjustments. With my recruiting and consulting experience over the past years, I would like to give some tips about the hiring process for the recruiting companies:

Firstly, specific and clear job descriptions should be noted. The necessary requirements, such as CET level 6 and proficiency in Photoshop, should be clearly pointed out in the job description if needed.


Additionally, the job categories should be clearly defined as well. Most college undergraduates are not purely looking for internships. What they really expect is the full time offer after the internship. Therefore, the recruiting companies should tell students who are looking for full time job if they cannot offer the position. In addition, lots of recruiting companies will hold campus recruiting fairs and career talks. It is of great importance for the company to find the right recruiting staff in the jobs fair or career talk. A responsible human resource staff member should get to talk to students who are interested in the job instead of only collecting the resumes. As for the career talk, I would that recommend a working staff member of the company, especially one from that home university, should be invited together with the human resource manager. When students see someone from their university, they feel much freer to ask questions in the interaction session.  Recruitment companies have to pay attention to the online application process. Clear steps of the interviews should be informed to every applicant so that students can arrange for the interviews. Moreover, timely replies also play a vital role in this process. As the famous saying goes, ‘time kills all deals’. I think the more time a company takes, the less patience the applicant are left with. Replying to applicants on a regular basis, preferably less than a week later, should be helpful to save the right applicant from walking away. Last but not the least; I would suggest recruiting companies should arrange an on-job mentor for the fresh college graduates in the company. It is not easy for the company to find the right person. In this regard, taking care of the new comer plays an active role in making the students stable at work. New college graduates lack social experience. They really need colleagues who not only guide them at work but help them with socialising in the company as well. Adapting to the working environment quickly can effectively save college graduates from the loneliness.

As I also read news about six government policies for college graduates, I think breaking through the dilemma also requires effort from the government. If recruiting companies can pay more attention to the details in the recruiting process, they will probably get the right people they need. As for college students, expectation is in proportion to hard work. Getting down to earth is the best choice for now!

By Robert Parkinson, CEO of RMG Selection.

It Takes a Smart Firm to Keep Smart People – China Daily

It’s good to bring in staff from overseas, but that is only half the job.

Since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, a great number of its state-owned enterprises have developed businesses overseas. An increasing number of SOEs are also conducting international commerce with other countries. Both trends show us that the need for excellent international talent has become inevitable for SOEs. But the fierce competition among all kinds of companies in the knowledge-based economy has led to an urgent lack of foreign talent in SOEs over the years.

There is no doubt that it is critical for companies to take care of their foreign talent, especially high-end management talent and multitalented expats. From human resource management to human resource development, to retain foreign talent can be presented in every detail. But it is difficult to say whether SOEs have done a good job in retaining foreign talent.

To begin with, I would like to talk about the process of adaptation by foreign talent to the Chinese working environment. SOEs should always bear in mind that foreign employees may not stay at the company till the end of their contract.

If an SOE really wants a foreign talent to stay in the company for a long time, it really needs to take action. For instance, in order to help skilled foreigners get used to the environment quickly, a mentor from the company can be arranged to help the foreign employee with life and work issues. SOEs can also plan team-building activities to encourage them to communicate with local employees. Moreover, SOEs can organize training sessions for new employees so that they can get familiar with the company within a short time.

Another important issue is that fairness, transparency and efficiency in performance appraisals should be improved so skilled foreigners can receive objective feedback about their work. A fair performance appraisal plays an important role in the development of one’s career. Foreign employees enjoy positive recognition from their company, while negative feedback may stimulate them to work harder.

It is also very important for a foreign talent to see an SOE’s real action. To be specific, if a foreign talent performs very well, he or she expects to see a salary increase that matches what is noted in the performance appraisal.

Developing a better incentive system is also a positive action to take for SOEs.

What needs to be addressed is that both psychological and material incentives should be considered. The psychological incentive refers to an encouraging environment for foreign talent. Positive comment and feedback from management can infuse foreign talent with confidence, which can also develop into work motivation.

As for material incentives, I think SOEs should come up with some smart ones. By saying smart, I mean incentives that are tailored to foreign talent. Take housing subsidies. For foreign employees, a housing subsidy is not really practical. The majority of foreign employees in China rent houses rather than buy them. Instead of paying for the housing subsidy, SOEs could choose to pay for Chinese language courses if they are going to stay in China for a long time.

Another issue is with Chinese medical insurance. The Chinese medical insurance only covers expenditure in Chinese hospitals, but it is difficult for most foreign employees to talk with doctors or nurses in the local language. SOEs should consider foreign hospitals or clinics as options.

Lastly, taking care of the family of a foreign employee is also a good way keeping them. Foreign employees, being in another country, are unable to spend time with their families. Arranging a trip for the family of the foreign employee may be a great idea.

There are still a lot of challenges for SOEs. Attracting and retaining international talent is certainly not an easy task, but it would be helpful for SOEs to solve the issue of retaining talent by considering the suggestions set out here.

The author is CEO & founder of RMG Selection, an Asia-focused human resources and recruitment consultancy.


Secrets of the Headhunters – China Daily

 Secrets of the headhuntersIn the world of headhunting, carefully assessing personalities plays a role. Provided to China Daily

The refined techniques of recruitment firms are in demand. An increasing number of Chinese companies are turning to international headhunters for high-quality overseas professionals, as they do not have the extended professional connections needed to find such talent.

Zhang Ruguo, the HR manager of the Beijing-based New Oriental Education Group, says that most of the recruitment is directly done by the company, save for some high-level management positions.

“Since we do not have the right connections, we have to ask for help from overseas headhunters.

“They (overseas headhunters) have a rich database and human capital resources. By going through them, we can save a lot of time and energy, and also be sure that the talent we procure is suited for our requirements,” Zhang says.

International headhunting companies had very few Chinese clients when they first entered the Chinese market some 15 years ago, but in the past few years there has been a sea change, says James Darlington, head of Asia at Antal International, a global HR consultancy.

“When we first entered the Chinese market in 1998, 90 percent of our clients were multinational companies. But today more than half of our clients are local companies,” he says.

Robert Parkinson, founder and CEO of RMG Selection, a Beijing-based recruitment consultancy, says that five years ago his company had hardly any Chinese companies as clients. But now they account for more than 20 percent of the clientele. The company plans to set up a new office in Tianjin this year to handle the workload from Chinese companies, he says.

Parkinson says the main reason why Chinese companies are looking for overseas talent is the fact that the economy is gradually changing. About 15 years ago, China was the manufacturing center of the world with the lowest prices, but now it has changed to a place where more value is added to products.

Moreover, with China emerging as one of the most dominant and resilient players in the global economy after recent financial troubles, and more Chinese companies striving to compete with multinational firms, the need for overseas talent has skyrocketed.

“If you look at what work the law firms do, you will find a lot of their work is not inbound, but outbound investment, to help Chinese companies expand overseas. That’s a huge driver,” Parkinson says.

There are large demands in two areas: one for the government-backed talent programs, which typically look for top-notch and academically qualified candidates in technology-based areas, says John Benson, CEO of Silu.com, a Chinese career site that focuses on connecting overseas professionals with Chinese companies.

The second is a more across-the-board demand for skillsets that the China talent pool cannot provide, such as professionals with experience in operating in Western cultures, especially from Chinese companies looking to expand abroad, he says.

When searching for high-level talent for Chinese companies, headhunters go through the same process as when they work for other international companies. But the situation varies from case to case, says Ed Zheng, senior client partner of Korn/Ferry International, a global executive search firm. More than 40 percent of its clients in China are local companies, with state-owned enterprises accounting for 50 percent of the total.

“The first thing that we do is to communicate with our client, so that we can understand not only what’s on the job description, but also the company’s business strategy, its growth target, structure and culture,” Zheng says. “Our first job is to help the Chinese companies figure out their specific requirements for talent.”

Following this, the company will start to look for candidates overseas. Zheng says that for high-level positions, candidates’ personalities and leadership competence probably play an equal, if not bigger, part in their career successes compared with specialized skills.

“We often spend a lot of time in assessing the potential candidate’s personalities. Usually in our recommendations about them to companies, only 40 percent are about the candidates’ professional skills, while 60 percent is about their personalities and leadership competence,” he says.

Approaching candidates is not an easy task, and it is important for headhunters to be aware of the true value of joining a Chinese company from the candidate perspective before doing so, Parkinson of RMG says.

“About 99 percent of candidates that we approach at first will be passive candidates who are not looking for changes or new experiences,” Parkinson says.

“Therefore you cannot have people with one year’s working experience calling someone with 25 years’ experience to have a conversation on career development, as they cannot engage at the same level. Engaging with them is knowing them in a deep way.”

When the candidates show interest, headhunters often arrange interviews, to see if there is something they would like to change about the current positions, and the contract-related aspects. After the candidates join the company, headhunters will help them with integrating in the first few months. In most of cases, the recruitment fees can be high and more than one third of the candidates’ yearly salary, Parkinson says.

However, even after careful matching, retention of acquired talent is a challenge for many Chinese companies. More than half of the high-level talent leave their positions in Chinese companies after one year, largely due to cultural differences, Zheng says.

“Most of the Chinese companies consider talent as an acquired skill and not as acquiring a talent,” he says. “Take a legal director in a Western company as an example. From a Western perspective what makes him tick, besides professional skills, are factors such as pets and hobbies. But in most Chinese companies, the only thing that matters is that he is an expert in legal issues.”

Zheng says the good thing about the process is that the appropriate person can be found, and skills can readily applied.

“However, ignorance about a talent’s cultural values, personalities and career aspirations will lose their loyalty. When a talent has been abstracted to a skill, and a higher-paid job has been offered, they will leave right away,” he says.

Moreover, enterprise culture in Western companies and Chinese companies are quite different. In Western companies, employees’ rights and obligations are set down in a contract and the boss is more likely to be open about it, whereas in Chinese companies, personal networks and relationships are more important, and the boss is more likely to give orders than to listen.

He adds that while retaining talent, money is usually not the prime motivator. Instead, it is more about people who have a real interest in the culture and history of China, and those who are ambitious and capable of seizing the available opportunities.

Claire Yang, managing director of the consultancy Accenture Greater China, and an expert on talent and organization performance, says overseas talent should accept that things operate in different ways in different cultures and be more positive in communicating with Chinese bosses and make changes.

Even though the number of companies using headhunters is increasing, it is still small compared with the whole market, Parkinson says.

“Chinese companies are less familiar with headhunting services. In Chinese culture, people pay more attention to their own network and relationships; they come to us only when people simply cannot be found by other channels,” he says.

It will take another five or 10 years for Chinese people to start using headhunting companies for outsourcing professionals, he says.


Robert Parkinson – RMG CEO on China Radio International

CEO & Founder of RMG Selection, Robert Parkinson’s live interview on China Radio International (CRI) English. The interview focuses on the Chinese employment market landscape from the result of China Talent-flow Survey.


Listen to the interview at

Youku: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNTMyMzAxMTAw.html

YouTube: http://youtu.be/SOYbUWEeZ10

RMG Selection releases China Talent-flow Survey Report

RMG Selection has reported the result of China Talent-flow Survey in March 2013, on talent flow rate, its characteristics, and the function of headhunters and recruiters in 2012. RMG Selection is an Asian focused specialist recruitment and executive headhunting firm with over 200 regular clients, and network partners in 27 countries all over the world.  RMG China Talent-flow Survey was carried out in January and February 2013 and collected over 2000 samples. The survey combined the actual situations in China and cover different region, enterprise type, working experience, education background and gender etc. The result shows that China employment market is still very active, and the phenomena of “job hopping” is becoming more and more popular active. The characteristic is more obvious in different groups; the barriers between different regions are becoming lower, and at the same time, headhunter has become an even more important part of the power behind ‘talent flow’.

report AD - Copy Key Findings from the survey Market Landscape
  • The employment market is still active, last year over 30% of people even changed jobs.
  • The percentage of job-hoppers from private enterprises is 39%; that of state-owned enterprises is only 25%.
  • The highest percentage of job-hoppers is those grouped in the monthly salary of 10000&40000RMB.
  • Both men and women are active on a similar level.
Headhunter Role
  • Nearly 60% of people are more willing to change jobs via headhunters.
  • Nearly 80% of middle and high income earners choose headhunters.
  • Headhunters are “killing” into state-owned enterprises.
  • More than half of people believe headhunters are more professional on phone than direct contacts from companies’ own employees.
  • The bigger the company, the more trust they have in the headhunters.
  • MBAs are most favored by headhunters; the difference with PhD. is not big.
  • Online CV submission results: PhD holders are less popular than undergraduates
Flowing Appreciation
  • 80% of people needed to job hop to get a salary increase of 20% or higher.
  • The expectation of salary increase is slightly higher for men than women for job-hopping.
  • The 30-40 years old age group, are even more eager to obtain a substantial salary increase.
  • The higher salary people have, the smaller impact of annual bonus to job changing.
Cross-domain Flowing
  • 70% of people are willing to work in other cities.
  • Half of people who are over 50 do not mind working in any cities.
  • The higher the salary, the more difficult it is to change working city.
  • Males are more willing to adapt to different areas.
Headhunter, a word which is a little strange for people a decade ago, has now become strong power in the process of talent flow. 57% employees hope to change job through headhunters; 50.26% employees are placed successfully by the headhunter; besides, 52.22% employees have the thought that the calls from headhunters are more professional. All these have demonstrated the increasing acknowledgement and understanding towards the headhunters. More companies have acknowledged the concept of “recruiting by headhunters”, 28% employees in state owned enterprise have the experience of changing job successfully through the headhunters. On the other hand, we find that the headhunting companies in China are varied in quality, only a small part of them have professional work procedure and genuine career guidance and training toward candidates. ‘Although the business development is becoming more and more mature, how to select professional partners will be a big challenge for most employers and job seekers in the future.’, said Robert Parkinson, Founder & CEO of RMG Selection. Download Talent Flow Survey 2013 (TFS 2013) at https://www.rmgselection.com/index.php/2012-12-07-06-20-23/tfs-download Contact us at [email protected] or Call +86 10 5896 2288 for the details of the report.