Recruiting Your Talent in China: Part One – How to Attract the Right Applicants

Recruiting early employees and building your local team can be the most important piece of the jigsaw to fulfil your business vision in China. After all, you need local expertise to implement your strategy and consolidate your USP in the huge Chinese market. China, renowned as a primary import and export market, has accumulated a huge number of bilingual talents in the past few decades, so foreign businesses seem to have a big pool to start with when seeking suitably qualified people. 

However, some SME clients came to us recently and asked why their hiring managers were not able to attract applicants for their China vacancies despite months of recruiting effort.
Here are some tips based on our real experience in helping clients to solve such problems.


Make sure you localise your job specifications

It is almost mandatory for foreign companies recruiting in China to include ‘fluent in English’ in the essential job requirements, so that the parent company can receive sufficient updates and local market knowledge to direct and adjust business directions. It is also reasonable to assume that job adverts in English will do a better job in attracting bilingual talent.

However, the reality is far from that. Our experiences show that no matter what type of positions you need to fill in China – and whether or not they require bilingual skills – job descriptions (JDs) written in Chinese attract many more applications. The Chinese version not only demonstrates that the employer is serious about the Chinese market and culture but also accurately presents the job selection criteria in the applicant’s native language, thus avoiding potential misunderstandings.

Another element in localising your JD is to give ample information about your company, its background (especially if there is a nice story to tell), and your company vision and culture.

For example, when we were called recently by a tech client to help them recruit for an FAE position in Shenzhen, they had already tried English-only job adverts in China for several months but failed to get a decent number of applications. What is more, none of those they did receive looked relevant.

We helped by:

  • localising the job description by translating it into Chinese (Mandarin, simplified characters)
  • adding more information about the company’s background and its strong market position.​

The result spoke for itself. In just about two weeks, we managed to present the client with a group of qualified engineers for their selection.


Carefully choose the channels used for posting your Chinese vacancies

Just as China has a different macro and micro economic environment, the recruitment platforms used there are also totally different to the West, in terms of the key players and the way they operate. Channels for job adverts also vary according to industries and regions across the country.

  • LinkedIn in China only allows China-registered companies to have recruiter accounts and post jobs, with a fee. The social media platform has been shut down since 2021.
  • Major local recruitment platforms, such as Boss Zhipin, Liepin, Lagou, have similar requirements to Linkedin. You must have a Chinese business licence to register and post vacancies.
  • Furthermore, some platforms are for agencies only, while others are more suitable for ads by employers. Based on the roles, an analysis and careful selection of local channels can make a difference to the effectiveness of your advertisement, and how efficiently you receive applications.

With the client example above, we expanded the ad channels to include LinkedIn as well as a couple of other Chinese local platforms to post the company’s JD, using our own affiliated accounts in China. The number of applications increased within a few days, providing a much wider selection for our clients to consider.

It is also worth noting that many Western companies tend to use their existing home country agencies when recruiting overseas – but often these agencies fail in generating sufficient applications, if any. International recruitment in markets like China requires specialist expertise, understanding of the local talent trends and business practices as well as access to domestic job channels, all which such agencies may lack.

At Crayfish, we offer a range of standard recruitment services which you can purchase online 24X7 to suit your requirements. We also provide tailored solutions and are always happy to have a discrete discussion on how we could help you solve your China recruitment needs. Do get in touch and book a free initial consultation.