7 Tips on How to Recruit Managers for SMEs in China

This is the second post on a series of articles about Recruitment in China. The JLJ Group has provided the content and recommendations in this post.
You can check the previous post about labour market trends here.

Tips on How to Recruit Managers for SMEs in China
With the current labour trends in mind, there are some helpful rules of thumb to hire managers for SMEs.

1. Look for Passively Available Candidates for Important Positions
These tend to be highly capable individuals who are not threatened by the possibility of retrenchment, and differ from active job seekers who may have been retrenched due to performance-related issues. This is particularly important for positions that are responsible for a company’s profits and losses.

2. Do not depend solely on phone interviews when hiring in China
Phone interviews provide insufficient information for screening candidates. There have been cases of deceit in phone interviews where candidates engaged external help to ace through interviews without actually possessing the required competencies. Moreover, due to China’s great diversity, it becomes even harder to assess the qualities and reliability of a person through a simple phone call. Hence, companies should always conduct face-to-face interviews for better evaluation of candidates and prevent the occurrence of frauds.

3. Do not negotiate directly with candidates if you are unfamiliar with their cultures
This is particularly true for sensitive issues such as salary negotiations. Miscommunications tend to occur in negotiations due to cultural differences in expression.  This has repeatedly resulted in foreign companies dismissing good candidates prematurely. Hence, companies should always negotiate salaries and other sensitive issues via experienced recruiters or HR professionals who are familiar with the local culture.

4. Proficient users of English are clearly desirable, although often require high salaries
Due to the great disparity in English competency levels existing in China, candidates strong in English can easily command premium salaries that are 30% higher than the average employee. This is partly due to the high demand for such candidates from multi-national corporations (MNCs). Therefore, expect to pay a premium for proficient users of English.

5. If an office is located in a 2nd or 3rd tier city, companies are advised to hire candidates from the vicinity
Foreign SMEs have been found to prefer candidates from 1st tier cities even when their offices are located in 2nd or 3rd tier cities, because these candidates are more likely to be able to relate easily to their employers in terms of both language as well as their expectations for standards of living. However, such candidates may find it difficult to adapt to the poorer living conditions of the lower tiered cities. This can eventually lead to high employee turnover rates and become detrimental to the company.

6. Keep in touch with this selected candidate in the time before work begins
Chinese candidates have very strong desires to succeed in the global economy. Hence, it is not uncommon to find t hem continuing to search for better opportunities despite having accepted an offer. Thus, it would be wise for hiring managers to keep in touch with the selected candidates and take note if they are still keen and available to join the company. This will help to avoid unnecessary surprises when the candidate fails to show up on the first day of work.

7. Engage professional recruiters when sourcing for specific talents to fill important positions.
The key differentiating factor between a professional recruiter and an amateur lies in the methodology adopted in their search for candidates. Professional recruiters are in control of the entire process. They understand the specific needs of their clients and are able to accurately identify a best-fit candidate in the shortest possible time. In contrast, amateurs are heavily reliant on the quality of resumes they receive and may not be able to perform when faced with unfamiliar industries.
Besides methodology, intangible soft-skills are also critical in headhunting.  The suitability of a recruiter’s network contributes to the success of searching certain talents. Pursuasion skills are also highly desirable in a recruiter. Best-fit candidates may be passively available instead of being actively engaged in job-hunting. In other words, they are still employed and may require substantial persuasion to leave their established portfolio.

How does this sound? It would be great if you could add your own tips.

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