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Fight for the right sort of talent

By Zheng Yangpeng | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-23 11:12

Most-wanted talents

Upon being asked about the most-wanted professionals in 2013, Ng said he would rather talk about function than specific industries.

"In fact, except for a few technical people, talent requirements are more or less the same across various sectors," he said.

"For example, all companies need salesmen. Actually, the need for sales managers is rising strongly in 2013."

As markets in first-tier cities are becoming mature and saturated, multinationals have a robust demand for salespeople with a full knowledge of markets in second- and third-tier cities.

In this regard, multinationals have to put in much more effort to fostering their employers' brands in these cities and identifying the talent pools there, because local companies have an advantage in finding local talents, Ng said.

And as the Chinese market is departing from its previous linear growth pattern, corporations operating in China need a new type of leadership, which Ng described as "a shift from operation-oriented toward growth-oriented".

"The good old days are gone. Now not only do you need to run a business, you need also to fight a business," Ng said. "This means leaders should run a factory, but also find business to keep the factory running."

However, Ng said one of the most common mistakes foreign companies make is they expect the local talents they hire to be productive in a very short time, but it does not work that way.

"A lot of multinationals have a mixed organization. You get one boss in Singapore and the other in New York. So you have to be able to work on a global basis. Decision-making there is very different from local companies, so it takes time for new hires to adjust to that environment," Ng said.

Foreign companies should also provide local talents with the resources to be productive, he added. "You can't just send a manager to the office in Beijing and say 'good luck', with no backing resources, no coaching and training."

Throughout the interview, Ng stressed that the qualified talent pool in China is "not very big". To get them, foreign companies should prepare for a fight.

"In 2013, the war for talent, once ferocious, will become more subtle and focused. Businesses will not hire the volume of talent they once did, but against the current economic backdrop and the drive for growth, they will be focused on hiring critical talent," Ng said.

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