Lots of you have been writing to us, saying that they need help finding the right employees. This is an important question in any business so in the next few issues I want to talk more in depth about this.
You may remember our earlier issue where I talked about finding employees when you are on a tight budget. Today I want to give you an overview over all the available options when hiring employees in China.
After several years of running a business here I have been making use of different channels, so let me quickly go over them and the pros and cons.
Explore these different channels
1. Universities – When I first started out I couldn’t afford full time employees so I started looking for part-time help. I went to the nearest university and put up notes looking for English speaking students who were looking for part-time jobs. I also went to the foreign language campus and talked to some people. Especially when you are just starting out in China and don’t know a lot of people this is a very viable strategy. A lot of young Chinese are very keen on working for foreign companies because it seems more interesting than your average job. Obviously this method isn’t ideal for finding experienced or highly qualified employees.
2. Word of mouth – After I had found a couple of freelancers at the nearest university I just talked to the most reliable ones and told them to ask their friends if they were interested. Actually, in many cases I didn’t even have to do that. More proactive part-timers just came to me and asked if their friends could also join for a project. With the exception of a few bad apples this approach has served me extremely well.
3. Hiring foreign interns – There are various international internship programs for foreigners that want to intern with companies in China. Many of these interns have college degrees, some have work experience and most are happy with a small monthly allowance. These interns usually stay for three to six months but some are also looking for permanent positions in China. This can be a very rewarding mutual exchange for both sides so I highly recommend looking into this option.
4. Online advertising – Websites like 51job.com or zhaopin.com are great to find qualified employees. There’s a catch though, you will either need to read and write Chinese or have to find someone to place and evaluate the job offer for you. This part is pretty time consuming and placing the ads is not particularly cheap either. In my case I received hundreds of applications and had one of my co-workers forward only the most promising ones. I then selected ten or so for an interview at my office.
5. Exhibiting at a graduate conference – This is a cheap way to gain a lot of exposure but not suitable if you are just starting out and looking for your first employees. Most universities have annual graduate conferences and you can apply at each of them. Depending on the size and reputation of the university they get to choose if your company is suitable to exhibit. They decide on the size of your company, your business field and other factors. If you get to exhibit at one of the more prestigious events you will get to talk to many hundreds of graduates who leave their application material with you.
6. Hiring a head hunter – If money isn’t an issue for you, this is the way to go. Especially if you are looking for a highly specific employee there is no faster and more efficient way in my opinion. But expect to pay at least two months salary in commission to the agency. Normally commissions will be three months and up though. Plus, the base salary for these employees is usually as high as it would be in your home country.
As you may have noticed I started out with the cheapest approaches and gradually moved towards the more expensive ways of finding employees in China.