At the end of the first quarter, most HR managers are busy assessing the need for new staff. The first quarter is an important period for HR specialists to hire new people. This period is also when many job applicants learn about their value to the job market. To collect first-hand information on recruitment activities in the Chinese job market, RMG Selection launched its Recruitment Insider Survey (Quarter 1) at the end of March.
Recruitment Insider is a survey specifically designed for HR managers who are in charge of their companies’ overall hiring work as well as hiring/line managers. By surveying leading companies in China, we aim to help employers and job seekers understand the qualifications needed and the direction of the recruitment landscape. As the survey is about to be published, I would like to introduce the survey generally and share a few interesting findings with HR managers and employers.
Recruitment needs in the first season remains strong
Out of approximately 600 companies who participated in the Recruitment Insider Survey, 91.8% are very active in hiring new employees. It was found that demand for recruits in State – Owned Enterprises (SOEs) is the highest (99.1%) of all types of companies. This is mainly affected by government decisions about renovation of SEOs. As it can be seen in Figure 1, 86.6% head accounts in Europe and American corporations were filled in the first quarter. Joint-venture companies show the lowest hiring activity. The highest number of vacancies are to be found in sales, marketing and product design and manufacture.
Figure 1 – Data from RMG Recruitment Insider Survey 2015Q1
It was also found in the survey that manufacturing industry, internet and legal consulting are the top three industries looking for able recruits. According to Figure 2, professional legal consulting firms are extremely active in hiring new employees. The rapid development of IT & Internet (91.8%) and machine design and manufacture (93.5%) has also led to high recruitment demand. But with only 78.3% new positions opened in the first quarter, the situation has deteriorated in manufacturing industry.
Figure 2 – Data from RMG Recruitment Insider Survey 2015Q1
Salary increase varies in different company types
Salary and offer issues are important to both employers and employees. We have found that the salary increase is generally low in the first quarter. Only one-third of the total offer sent out to new recruits goes beyond a 10% salary increase. The best performance is found in multinational corporations. 66% of the new positions in these companies are middle to senior level positions. It seems that the recruitment strategy in Joint-Venture companies is to absorb the more highly qualified among their employees. As discovered by the survey, only Joint- Venture companies are willing to pay large increases to outstanding people. The salary increase performance of SOEs, on the other hand, is rather disappointing. With 90% offers from SOEs, the salary increases varies within 10%.
Mainstream hiring channels
Another interesting finding is on the ranking of recruitment channels. The most popular hiring channel belongs to the executive search firms. The second place surprisingly goes to social media. LinkedIn, WeChat, Weibo, MaiMai, GouDa and other popular platforms have all become important channels for employers and HR specialists to dig out passive, talented employees. Recruitment websites and jobs fairs have become less important than five years ago.
Aspects valued and not valued by HR and hiring managers
According to the survey, professional knowledge and skills are the most important criteria when filtering candidates. Unsurprisingly, ability to communicate comes in second place. The interesting finding is that educational background is valued in third place by HR managers: in China, the majority of SOEs and private Chinese firms regard a solid education background as an essential qualification, but In 2014, there was a hot debate as to whether university graduates had a great advantage in the job market.
Company value is often important for western companies. However, out of six hundred managers surveyed, only 15.5% thought this to be the most important factor. At the same time, certificates and honors, important criteria for selection in the past, were not at the bottom of the list. Unfortunately, only 10.5% of managers care about employees’ skills and knowledge demonstrated by paper qualifications. This contrasts with the criteria employed by HR professionals when filtering candidates.
Campus recruitment activities already started
Although the survey was conducted in the first quarter, campus recruitment had already started to play a part in many companies’ hiring plans. Analysis shows that more than 50% companies have already planned to open 20% of new positions out of the entire hiring plan to prepare for the graduates job-seeking peak in June. Only 6% of companies haven’t prepared for campus hiring yet. In 2014, the number of graduates already exceeded 7 million, which was quite a problem for the government and many companies. We will keep watching companies’ campus hiring plans in the second quarter.
As the Chinese saying goes, the whole year’s plan depends on a kick-start in spring. Needless to say it is important to hire and plan well in the first quarter. By conducting this survey and analyzing its results, we hope to share recruitment insights in different industries and fields with both employers and job seekers.
Written by Robert Parkinson CEO & Founder of RMG Selection.