Category: Opinion and View

01/22/14

Permalink 01:43:08 pm, by dacare, 149 words, 396 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China, Opinion and View

Career development main reason for job-hopping

Career development and more room for personal growth are the primary reasons that Chinese change their jobs, global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters reported on Tuesday.

Eighty-one percent of the 400 Chinese respondents surveyed said they will change jobs in 2014. Of those, 47.1 percent said the reason was to seek more room for personal growth, while 20.2 percent of them sought promotions in new companies, according to the Robert Walters 2014 Global Salary Survey.

Salary increase, though not weighing as much now as in the past, is still a significant driver of job-hopping. People who stay in their current position can expect a salary increase of between 8 and 10 percent. But for those who change jobs, salaries can jump 15 to 25 percent.

Arthur Wang, managing director of Robert Walters China, said employers should help their employees to map out a clear career path. "If promises are not kept, employees will definitely leave the company," he said.

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12/05/13

Permalink 08:54:04 am, by dacare, 341 words, 539 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China, Opinion and View

Why do most Chinese dislike their jobs?

Judging by the survey data, many Chinese workplaces are black holes of misery and despair.

Only 6% of Chinese employees said they are "engaged" in their jobs, according to a global Gallup survey released this month. China's numbers equal the numbers out of war-weary Iraq.

Workers across all income levels and industries were surveyed by Gallup in China, defined by Gallup to mean they were "psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organisations".

Out of 94 countries polled, only six countries scored lower rates of job engagement than China, including Tunisia, Israel and Syria. Unsurprisingly, 0% of Syrians admitted to being engaged at work.

In a related survey, China ranked near the bottom in a poll measuring job satisfaction among 22 Asian countries. Only 49% of Chinese respondents said they were happy in their jobs.

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that very few in China have the luxury of pursuing a career that truly interests them.

Even university graduates often feel they have no choice but to opt for positions with the government or state-run enterprises, since those jobs are thought to be stable and recession-proof.

That makes those who are happy at work in China a rare find indeed.

The BBC's ongoing My Day series tracked a typical day in a selection of people across Asia who are immersed in rewarding jobs, including some from China - a maternity nurse and a jack of all trades designer.

The latest instalment in the series tracks the work of a Chinese genealogist. Huihan Lie runs the company My China Roots in Beijing, which traces family histories and tries to put them in the context of the time.

"With every project, you find things you weren't expecting to find and the client wasn't expecting to find," he says. "Really, every person has their own little quirks and personal stories."

We'll continue to add to this series over the next few months. If you have any suggestions of interesting careers you think we should track, please add your comments below.

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11/22/13

Permalink 09:46:59 am, by dacare, 773 words, 557 views   English (US)
Categories: Opinion and View

Negotiating Employee Contracts in China

Regardless of what business you are in or where you operate, it is great employees that make a great company. While hiring great employees can be a challenge anywhere, the process of recruiting, retaining and terminating employees is especially tricky in China.

First, let’s dispel the common misconception that labor is cheaper in China. That’s arguably still true for factory workers, but skilled staffers draw significant salaries. At first glance, the numbers may seem deceptively low. A skilled office manager, for example, is paid a monthly salary of $1,000 to $2,500 in China, compared to $3,750 to $5,000 for a comparable position in Arizona, where my American business is headquartered. But in China, employers pay additional taxes on these wages in the form of “social insurance.” The rates vary by province, but in Shanghai, where I do business, the cost is 44 percent above the base salary.

So for a worker earning $2,000 per month, the cost to the employer will actually be $2,880. Additionally, it is customary at the Chinese New Year to give employees a 13th month of pay — including social insurance — for 12 months of work. Amortize that over the year and it raises the monthly cost to $3,120, which is creeping up toward the American pay scale.

Some may argue that there’s a qualitative difference in employee abilities between the two countries, but my experience is that the best people in China are equal in skill to their American counterparts.

Another critical thing to note is that job descriptions in China need to be much more detailed than those in the United States. Being as specific as possible in the labor contract about your expectations is imperative to establishing good working relationships with your Chinese employees. Simply including a sentence at the end of a job description that says “other duties as directed by your supervisor” will not suffice.

For example, in the United States, we think nothing of requiring an American office manager to wash his or her own coffee cup at the end of the day, but in China, the expectation is that an “ayi” — literally, it means “auntie,” but we would call her a maid — cleans up after everyone. In addition, a male employee may view typing a report as woman’s work — and thus beneath his position. That’s why it’s critical to be completely clear about a job’s specific tasks during the job interview and contract negotiations.

Arizona is a right-to-work state, so adjusting to China’s employment-contract system has been challenging for me. I have found that the best bet is to keep a close eye on details. Here are two basics that should be checked carefully, because they change often, sometimes several times a year:

• Term length: All employees get contracts, and they are issued in one-, two- or three-year terms.

• Probation: The one-year contract allows a probation of 30 days for an employee, the two-year contract allows 90 days of probation and six months’ of probation on a three-year contract.

In the probationary period you can terminate an employee without penalty; however, changes to this system are coming soon, so it’s smart for you to have a system to check contracts when necessary.

The best resources to keep you on the good side of Chinese labor law are your labor lawyers, who will update you when rules change. You definitely need a lawyer to represent your company. Labor contracts tend to be one-sided, and they really only govern how you will treat your employees with little impact on how your employees will treat you.

For example, if an employee has a three-year contract, he or she is not penalized for leaving before the contract ends. But if you decide to terminate an employee, you will need to pay one month for every year remaining on the contract, plus a prorated annual bonus. If you fire a staff member in the ninth month of a three-year contract, you will pay four months of salary. Failure to do so will land you in labor court. I’ll cover that in my next entry.

It sounds temping to go with a short contract, but I’ve found that it doesn’t really allow enough time to judge whether a new hire has the necessary skills and will fit into the corporate culture. For management positions, we use a three-year contract – with six months of probation – and for other positions we use a two-year term.

Think of the time you and your staff spend writing up detailed job descriptions and combing through the contractual fine print as an investment in peace of mind. Proper planning will spare you sleepless nights.

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11/14/13

Permalink 01:18:18 pm, by dacare, 446 words, 438 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China, Opinion and View

China's crazy property bubble

Cui Shufeng is a retired government worker in Beijing. She is one of the lucky homeowners who bought her place long before the housing sector galloped out of reach for the average Chinese salary worker.

"It is ridiculously high," she says pointing to apartments in her neighborhood. "These homes near the school here are CNY 70,000 (USD$11,400) per square meter. It's not even worth 7000 yuan (USD$ 1140) per square meter because it's not even good quality."

Her concern is on the radar of the central leadership that is expected to discuss economic reforms at the plenary session starting Saturday. For Chinese leaders, the property sector is an emotional and political hot potato. The dream to own a home is a far out of reach for tens of millions of Chinese citizens.

In the latest housing data, new home prices for September rose at the fastest pace in almost three years. In Beijing, new home prices were up 16%, Shanghai 17% and Shenzhen 20% from a year ago.

"The problem is Chinese people have very few investment vehicles. They've lost trust in the stock market so they turn to real estate," says Xu Si Tao, China Director of the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Xu says the central leadership needs to make bold steps in financial reforms to give citizens more options to invest their money.
One measure China is considering is to allow banks to set their own interest rates, creating more competition.

I was in Beijing two weeks ago and visited a luxury villa compound. It was a large site with tens of dozens of completed but mostly empty villas. A worker in the sales office told me the average home was priced at CNY 23 million (USD$3.8 million) and most were sold. He said half were owner-occupied (though I saw very little sign of residents) and the other half purchased as investments.

I was told the supermarket in the center of the compound was open and often used by residents. It was clearly still under construction. When I pointed this out, I was then told the grand opening would be next year. Message: The bubble is alive and growing. These villas are a pretty -- and by most appearances, empty -- place to park money.

Cui shakes her head at the dilemma facing the government. She doesn't believe recent curbs will work like a ban on third home loans in Shanghai.

"I don't think home prices will drop sharply because our economy is still doing okay," she says. "Our child bought a home in the U.S. recently. The price was about the same as a flat in Beijing, but the area is a lot bigger and the quality is much better."

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11/08/13

Permalink 02:25:34 pm, by dacare, 517 words, 434 views   English (US)
Categories: Opinion and View

Is 51job a Better Buy Than LinkedIn or Monster?

They're hiring in China, and 51job is making the most of its market leadership in online recruitment services.

The Chinese company that got its start inserting regional job listings in local Chinese newspapers before expanding into the more lucrative realm of cyberspace posted another quarter of growth after yesterday's market close. Revenue climbed 12% to a better than expected $68.6 million, fueled by a 15% spike in online recruiting. That was held back by 51job's original print business that continues to scale back in scope. 51job once served more than two dozen of China's biggest newspapers with weekly job listings, but it's now retreated to just four publications.

Shifting from print to the Internet has historically beefed up 51job's margins, but not this time. Net income inched just 4% higher to the equivalent of $0.64 per ADS. That's in line with Wall Street expectations, and that's actually a good thing. It's the first time this year that 51job doesn't fall short on the bottom line.

This has been a surprisingly strong performer over the years, more than tripling since I recommended it to Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter service subscribers three years ago.

Stateside investors may have a hard time wrapping their heads around a growing provider of online recruitment that isn't in the LinkedIn mold of social networking. Domestic leader Monster Worldwide -- which has struggled in 51job's turf with its diminishing stake in ChinaHR.com -- has been a disappointment for growth stock investors.

Monster reported an 11% decline in revenue for the same three months this morning. The market was braced for the decline, and the stock actually moved higher on the news. But during the same three-year run that has seen 51job more than triple, we've seen Monster shed nearly two-thirds of its value.

LinkedIn has naturally fared well. The career-oriented social networking giant saw revenue during the same quarter soar 56%, and adjusted earnings grew even faster. But here's where the valuation appeal of 51job may sway some investors who are reluctant to buy into China's booming employment scene.

51job may not be cheap at 25 times next year's earnings, but it's a bargain when pitted against LinkedIn's multiple of 99 times next year's profit target. There are regulatory concerns in China, and that's partly weighing on the stock this morning, but it's hard not to like 51job's prospects as a proven Wall Street winner.

Given 51job's consistent growth over the years -- and its guidance calls for another quarter of double-digit revenue growth for the new quarter -- it may just be the better stock at getting the job done in your portfolio.

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09/30/13

Permalink 10:31:30 am, by dacare, 1006 words, 362 views   English (US)
Categories: News of China, Opinion and View

Internships have become a necessity for graduates to secure jobs

The job market has become so competitive that even well-qualified graduates need to secure internships to find work

Twenty-three-year-old Baptist University graduate Trista Hon has reason to be excited. She is about to start working at BDO, an international accounting company, after beating many others for the position.

Hon attributes her success to her two-month working experience in Shanghai in the summer of last year. Hon took part in the government's Mainland Experience Scheme, a five-year pilot scheme launched in 2011 to sponsor short-term internships, or learning programmes, in the mainland for about 30,000 students.

"Auditing jobs require frequent travel to the mainland. It helps a lot that I have some understanding of working across the border. I can also adjust to working in the mainland better than other students," says Hon, who will be based in Hong Kong for the near future.

To prepare Hon for her stay in the mainland last year, Baptist University's career centre evaluated her fluency in Putonghua, along with her ability to cope with emergencies when working outside the territory.

In the current competitive economic environment, internships can give potential graduates a head start. Every day, recruiters are flooded with applications from university students who possess stunning academic credentials.

"We come across graduates with impressive academic and extra-curricular credentials all the time," says Sue Kim, founder of LIBBLE, an online platform established two years ago that is dedicated to the development of new graduates, and job matching.

"It's very easy to find a graduate who speaks four languages, has completed more than three internships or won academic scholarships, on our talent database," says Kim. "Competition has indeed become fierce."

In response to this challenging employment landscape, career centres at universities are constantly on the lookout for internship opportunities locally, globally and in the mainland.

Since 2005, Polytechnic University has required students to complete at least one internship before graduation. Every year, an average of 3,000 students from PolyU are engaged in an internship.

This summer, Chinese University placed 570 students in internships in 24 countries, under its global internship programme.

"Employers prefer job applicants with internship experience because they are more mature and more familiar with the corporate world," says Melina Lai, director of the Office of Careers and Placement Services at PolyU. "They tend to have a stronger work ethic and are more adaptable."

"If a new graduate has never done an internship, employers may wonder if the graduate lacks the initiative to look for one," she explains.

The chance of a student being hired is boosted if he or she has international working experience, according to Dr Tim Wong, head of Baptist University's career centre. "Medium to large-sized companies are selective in the recruitment process, and an international internship would improve the chance for a job candidate," he says.

Echoing Wong, Lai says students with international experience had demonstrated better communications skills and flexibility, and were more independent.

Work experience prior to leaving school is especially beneficial for students without a professional degree. For example, an English major with an emphasis on languages and literature has plenty of options other than teaching, including administration, journalism, legal services, sales and marketing, and public relations.

"Employers are looking for people who have been exposed to more than one particular field," Wong says.

Career advisers at the institutes are charged with the task of equipping students with the skills for a smooth transition into corporate life. Training courses and workshops on job hunting skills, interview etiquette, and resume writing, are organised on campus.

Before they start their internship, students are briefed on issues such as foreign culture, if they are heading to the mainland or overseas, and the jargon of particular industries.

The role interns are expected to play has changed over the years. In the past, the youngsters were seen as helping hands to provide support for the regular staff in an office. But now the new entrants are increasingly being integrated into overall manpower planning.

An internship can pave the way for a permanent position in large companies. Banks, in particular, may issue conditional offers to student workers who perform well, before they get their degrees.

Many employers view an internship as an arrangement that is meant to benefit the company as well as the student. "[It is] for the mutual benefit of the students and the employers themselves," says Lai. "We have come across small and medium sized enterprises which offer internships to develop students' interest in their fields.

"Eventually, the employers hope to secure their long-term commitment to the company. This in turn, helps to plug the shortfall from the turnover of regular staff," she says.

While a university degree, stellar academic results and other criteria are often advantageous, employers also take soft skills into consideration to identify the right candidates.

Sectors like banking, asset management, consumer products, retail and technology want to be sure that the young workers have a can-do attitude and are reliable, Kim says. "To impress experienced recruiters, graduates need to be able to show genuine passion and interest for the role. They can do this by having a good understanding of themselves and their interests," she says.

"They are also looking for people who can formulate their own views. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are useful, as is the ability to construct a sound opinion." Baptist University encourages students to become involved in community projects. They try to get them to help with the co-ordination, rather than just join in. "Students nowadays tend to be less independent. They need to become proactive in finding resources," Wong says.

The recent death of an intern at Bank of America in London, which is believed have been caused by excessive work, raised questions about the exploitation of young graduates.

"We always monitor the situation of our students closely by keeping in touch with them throughout the internship," Wong says.

Staff from the career centre join students abroad to help them settle in, he says, adding that social media is used to share information among students and keep track of their situation.

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