World / Reporter's Journal

As Yahoo China layoffs show, search for high-tech talent in China is unrelenting

By Chang Jun (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-03-24 05:43

One of the secret weapons in China's rapid economic growth the last decade has been its continuous efforts to find and retain talented workers.

From top leaders to company executives, the consensus is that technology, innovation and talent are driving forces for future development, as China shifts to an innovation-driven development.

Competition among high-tech companies for the best and the brightest is fierce. Employers' lucrative offers include high salaries, stock options, free meals and other perks.

Deep-pocketed industry players, such as Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, Xiaomi and Qihoo 360, have turned up the heat in an already white-hot job market by raising employees' base salaries and year-end bonuses.

China's demand for skilled professionals in high-tech fields is so strong that companies seized upon the recent layoffs of 300 people at Yahoo China as an opportunity to hire new workers.

On March 18, employees at the R&D Center of Yahoo China were informed that Yahoo headquarters in California would close the Beijing office, and all 300 staff members would be let go.

The shutdown was a long-expected move by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who faces shareholder pressure to cut costs.

"Today we informed our employees based in Beijing that we will be closing our office there," said a Yahoo statement. And right after that, about 400 headhunters and HR professionals from across China started pitching the new free agents.

Hiring managers flooded the property and set up career booths nearby to offer on-site interviews.

"Yahoo China's research faculties stand for leading technological know-how, and down-to-earth attitude," said Henry Xia, a senior research scientist with search engine Baidu. "Their expertise and the training they've received from Yahoo definitely are invaluable assets for any new employers."

In several tweets shared via Chinese social media site Wechat, high-tech companies including Microsoft (China), Baidu, Sohu and Sogou were pictured on the premises, specifically to hire former engineers. The offered packages ranged from $60,000 a year for a Java script architect to $90,000 for a senior Android engineer.

A message from Microsoft (China) HR read: "Hey, friends at Yahoo, we are now waiting at the Mann Coffee downstairs. Would you please join us to check opportunities at Microsoft – we have plenty."

Most of those laid off its seems would have no difficulty finding new jobs, said sources close to Yahoo China, and at higher pay and in a more favorable working environment.

According to Wang Junming, consul of science and technology with the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco, China is taking the right approach of respecting knowledge and talent.

On Sept 30, 2013, members of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, led by President Xi Jinping, paid a visit to Beijing's Z-Park, China's leading science, technology and innovation hub in Zhongguancun, for a tour on which they emphasized the importance of innovation and technology.

The leaders listened to presentations given by tech gurus Liu Chuanzhi, founder of PC maker Lenovo; Robin Li, CEO of Baidu; and Lei Jun, CEO of smartphone company Xiaomi.

They also talked with executives and scientists about research and implementation of new technologies such as additive manufacturing, cloud computing, nano materials, biochips and precise crop breeding, according to Xinhua reports.

"We must enhance awareness of unexpected challenges and grab the opportunities of the science and technology revolution," Xi said. "We can't wait, hesitate or slack off." He said that implementing the strategy of innovation-driven development will decide the fate of the Chinese people, therefore, the entire society must fully realize the importance of science, technology and innovation.

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