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Job market in China surges

Updated: 2015-03-22 13:24
By Liu Lu (China Daily )

Survey: Job seekers in mid- to senior-level positions can expect salary rises of up to 25 percent

After the weeklong Spring Festival holiday, Wang Jing, 31, began her new job as a human resources specialist at a US multinational company in Beijing after a five-year stint as an HR officer in Beijing Construction Engineering Group.

But while the new job didn't give her a bump in salary, the multinational presents better opportunities for career advancement, which Wang says is important for her career and personal growth.

 Job market in China surges

Job seekers and employers at a job fair in Beijing. Pharmaceutical and chemical companies are expected to be top hirers. CFP

Mid- to senior-level job seekers in China, or those like Wang looking for a change in scenery, can expect both increases in pay rates and better job opportunities this year with multinationals increasingly interested in the Chinese mainland market and domestic companies rapidly expanding, according to the most recent annual global salary survey from recruitment consultancy Robert Walters.

The report says Chinese employees in mid- to senior-level positions who change jobs this year can expect their salaries to go up by an average of 15 to 25 percent, while professionals who choose to stay put may see wage increases of about 6 to 8 percent. It also says companies are likely to invest more in benefits, training and development to attract and retain the best talent.

Though the number of employees planning to switch jobs is set to drop slightly from 2014 levels, it will still remain high, with over 71 percent of 2,448 survey respondents keen to find a new job, the report says.

"The recruitment market is becoming even more competitive as foreign companies continue to enter and develop in the Chinese market while fast-growing domestic companies look to expand overseas," says Arthur Wang, managing director of Robert Walters China.

"Candidates with international experience, local market knowledge as well as strong English and Mandarin language skills are highly sought-after. As professionals pay more attention to their long-term career paths, employers will need to offer opportunities for career progression in order to secure top talent in this candidate-driven market."

Due to improving market conditions and more and more Chinese enterprises broadening their global outlook, Wang says top Chinese professionals now view Chinese multinationals as viable employment alternatives to larger foreign firms.

"Domestic companies are not lagging behind," he says. "Many of them are providing competitive salaries and compensation packages, as well as employee stock options. As a result, some experienced professionals have given top priority to domestic companies.

'The growth of Chinese multinational corporations will intensify the competition for talent this year as more professionals view Chinese local companies as an attractive employment option because of their competitive remuneration packages and the career prospects they offer."

Last year, this favorable sentiment toward Chinese firms led to increased recruitment for Chinese e-commerce, automotive and healthcare companies. Local candidates also found opportunities in shared service centers in Beijing and Shanghai. Wang says he sees this trend continuing as foreign companies continue to relocate their information technology, human resources, sourcing and accounting requirements out of China due to rising labor costs.

"As a result, the competition for qualified talent, preferably those with overseas working experience, solid knowledge of the domestic market and higher bilingual proficiency will be even more intense in 2015 between Chinese and foreign companies."

The survey expects pharmaceutical and chemical industries to be the top hirers this year, with employees working within these two sectors' operations and manufacturing divisions expected to realize salary hikes of about 30 percent if they switch to another company.

Sales professionals in the luxury goods industry will see little growth in salaries this year due to industry stagnancy and China's anti-corruption campaign.

Another trend this year will be the narrowing salary gap between major Chinese cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, and other international cities, says Zhou Lulu, associate director of Robert Walters Beijing.

"A Chinese chief financial officer with listing experience can earn as much as a foreign professional holding the same position."

She says in addition to salary packages, senior-level candidates are placing a higher premium on non-monetary factors such as career advancement opportunities, the company's management style and its work culture.

"Organizations should pay more attention to their company culture and management styles, as these factors often appeal more to mid- and senior-level professionals."

In Beijing's job market, Zhou sees continued buoyancy this year, with increased hiring from state-owned and local private companies, especially in the rapidly growing sectors like e-commerce and information technology.

HR specialists will be highly sought-after due to a growing focus on staff retention in Beijing's job market. International and local companies will also be searching for marketing strategy planners to help them grow their brand.

In Shanghai, employees can expect salary increases of about 20 percent if they are looking for new opportunities in sectors such as finance and accounting, banking, human resources, information technology and sales.

Second-tier cities will also see rising employment opportunities as more international professional services companies enter their markets and as luxury and retail brands expand in cities such as Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Chengdu.

"To entice talent away from first-tier cities, companies will need to offer very attractive remuneration. However, to secure the best professionals, employers will also benefit from demonstrating they can provide a genuine platform for career development," Zhou says.

Even though the rising salaries of Chinese professionals have prompted concerns about rising labor costs in China, Alistair Cox, chief executive officer of global recruitment firm Hays Plc, says it is needless to worry about some lost job opportunities. On the contrary, Cox says it's a good sign that the economy is more developed and disposable incomes and standards of living are improving.

"There is a massive domestic market, which in many ways is under-leveraged," he says.

Indeed, the booming Chinese job market is attracting more foreign professionals to China.

She says more high-tech talent and qualified managers - especially from Europe - have come to work in China in recent years.

Shelby Hoorneman, a 22-year-old college student from the United Kingdom, will soon wrap up a four-month internship at an architectural and gardening design firm in Beijing but adds he will find another internship or a short-term job in China after the internship ends in April. In September, he says he'll return to the UK to attend graduate school.

"I plan to come to work in China after my postgraduate education next year because China is developing fast and there are many opportunities here," he says.


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