Sunday, March 21, 2010

Talent shortage in China

The last years booming in China has made the country as a popular country to invest in, especially for multinational companies. At the same time qualified people with the right skills is missing and Employer Branding becomes even more important.

I met many multinational companies on my round trip to Asia, like PwC, Coca-Cola, Deloitte, L’Oreal, Volvo, BCG, Siemens, Deutche Bank, JP Morgan, ING and 50 other employers. Many of those companies learned me a lot about the differences in the educational system. In China, education tends to lean towards theory while education in Europe and the US emphasize practical experience and teamwork. Someone told me that Chinese students still need to learn old scripts by hart even if it’s in an old language and useless in the daily life. So even if the talent pool is huge, there are still shortages in suitable talent for foreign companies.

They also told me that multinational companies looking for talent who are fluent in English may also be disappointed. Many graduates from Chinese universities lack proficiency in English, which means that they are not qualified for many of the jobs that that are in demand worldwide. And this is naturally also a problem for Chinese companies that want to expand internationally. Some foreign companies in China are recruiting from India and the Philippines where talent who are fluent in English is easier to find. Chinese students are even not allowed to stay in contact with other students from other countries through social networks such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. Those channels are blocked. When I arrived to China, I was told to not use the following words in my emails or write them on internet: “4th of June”, “Falun Gong”, “Dalai Lama”, “Taiwan” and “independency”. China has one of the most advanced systems for monitoring the internet.

China as a country is also facing a problem, 80% of Chinese students want to study abroad, and only 25% of them will come back after graduated. The Chinese government is now looking into different incentives to get them back.

As a result, some multinational companies have started taking training – for example in English or leadership skills – more seriously. Companies that want to use the talent pool in China simply have to be prepared to invest more in education and development to make sure that the Chinese talents achieve the desirable set of skills they demand.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Employer Branding in Asia

I have just returned from a longer Employer Branding turne in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, where I managed to meet more than 50 employers. During my trip I realized that the cultural, religious and socioeconomic differences are even larger in Asia than in Europe and the US. With this in mind employers have to be extra sensitive to local variations in culture and attitudes when they tailor their employer brand for different parts of Asia. Hence, it’s crucial that employer branding strategies are developed based on local input – and not in a top-down approach from an office outside the region, e.g. Europe or the US.

Some lesson learned

GENERATION Y: There is a big focus and awareness about Generation Y among employers in Asia. They call the young talents for “small princess” and are afraid that they will become too spoiled. The result of the one-child policy is that parents put all effort in their child and get very high expectations on them.

RELATIONSHIP: Establishing an employer branding presence in Asia depends on many factors such as personal relationships with officials and government entities – all of which take time to develop. The most attractive companies to work for in China have been in this region for a long time and their strong employer brands reflect their commitment and investment.

FEAR: Your reputation, regardless of if you are a company or a person, is extremely important in Asia. Many companies therefore feel that the safest way in doing employer branding is to do the same as the competitors. It takes time to try something new.

EMPLOYER BRANDING: Employer Branding is a new fast growing discipline. It’s a quite new topic and executed on an operational level rather than a strategically level. Employer Branding is still short term recruiting rather than long term branding. Few seniors or leader groups are involved in the Employer Branding work. It will take time before CEOs realize the advantage of Employer Branding.

RESEARCH: Using research to track and benchmark the Employer Brand is still a very new philosophy and tool for them.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Employer Branding surveys around the globe

The recruitment market is finally heating up again. At least based on feedback from many companies around the globe. They are starting to find it difficult and costly to replace talents as valued employees leave the workforce when times is getting better. As a response, Universum is right now conducting the world’s largest Employer Branding survey to help companies to understand more about preferences among young employees.

Having started with India in November and in Europe and North America in December, Universum is now reaching the final stages of the most ambitious research on student career expectations ever, conducted in 31 countries. To deliver the reliable and comprehensive trending data, relationships with close to 1,000 universities around the globe is needed. Around 350.000 students will complete the Universum surveys this year. The surveys are the first step towards developing a successful employer branding strategy, answering questions such as:

• What do students expect from their future working life?
• Which companies do students identify as ideal employers?
• Which companies are competing for the same talent?
• Which communication channels do students prefer to use?

Universum conducts regional and country specific research on several student populations:
graduates in Europe, US, Asia, Canada, Australia, Russia and South Africa.

If you are interested in understanding more about the surveys, send me an email at