Talent scouts must find, and also keep

Updated: 2013-04-26 09:04

By Chen Yingqun and Hu Haiyan (China Daily)

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"Since China's reform and opening up began, many international design firms have participated in the designs of some big projects in China, which means we have to compete with both local and intentional companies," he says, adding that for the past four years, the institute has either hired or worked with about 10 foreign designers.

"When we work with international designers or designers who receive education overseas, their different mode of thinking and working methods are quite a change."

New Oriental Education Group, a Beijing-based private education provider, has attracted more than 500 foreign talents. Nearly 3,000 of its employees have overseas experience, and account for more than 10 percent of the whole group.

Talent scouts must find, and also keep

High-end challenge

High-level talent can also bring in new management styles as well as international enterprise culture for some companies.

It took three years for the Beijing-based Pulead Technology Industry Co Ltd, a company that focuses on lithium-ion batteries, to bring in an expert in the industry, Lahrs Thorsten, former CEO of Phostech Lithium Inc of Canada, to take up the position of vice-president at the company's Qinghai branch.

Ye Jing, HR manager of Pulead Technology, says that although the company spent a lot of money recruiting Thorsten, what he has brought with him is worth it.

"As a leading figure in the industry, there is no doubt that he is of immense help when it comes to technology issues," Ye says. "More importantly, he has also helped change our management styles and influence and cultivated a group of young technicians in the company with his serious working attitude and advanced technologies."

For other companies that want to expand overseas, what is needed is international talent that can best understand customers, help expand overseas channels and deal with the challenges posed by different cultures and legal systems in China and elsewhere.

Kang Lang, HR manager of the Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun International Ltd, says the company attaches great importance to attracting international talent and started its hunt about three years ago when it saw investment opportunities overseas.

The company now has investments spanning Europe, the US and Africa, in several industries including travel, insurance and coal mining. At the company's Shanghai headquarters, there are about 400 workers, of whom 30 are foreigners and 90 are overseas returnees.

Dara Life Lounge of Beijing, a furniture company founded in 1998, has always employed foreign furniture designers, as most of its customers are people with an overseas background in China. It has employed about 30 designers, eight of them foreigners. More than 80 percent of its employees also have overseas experience.

"The design industry in China was relatively new, and there were not too many mature designers," says Zhang Jun, co-founder of the company. "Foreign designers can understand our international customers' needs better, and their designs go well with global fashion trends."

Fu Junsheng of the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, says that his center holds at least four job fairs targeting foreigners every year in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Last year, for each job fair, about 1,500 foreigners participated, of whom, more than 70 percent were from Europe and the US, while about 5 percent were from Africa, and the rest from other regions. Sometimes, foreigners would fly to China after seeing the recruitment website, he says.

Hiring benefits

In looking for international talent, companies may also need to rethink whether their recruitment methods are effective.

Wang Huiyao, the Beijing-based human resources expert, says Chinese governments and companies need to use more recruitment tools, apart from job fairs overseas.

Most highly skilled people do not rely on job fairs when they look for employment, so companies may find it hard to find the right people even after spending a lot of money and energy, Wang says.

"Overseas recruitment is more than releasing job vacancies or holding job fairs. Companies should think thoroughly about what kind of people they want and do careful research about where to find them."

Jiang Anyi, vice-president of Hay Group, China, says companies should be more particular about the qualities they look for in overseas talent.

"We cannot just say that we need foreigners to fill some positions. Instead, our managers should figure out what our requirements from them are, what kind of value we expect them to add and whether they will fit in with our long-term development strategies," he says.

The real challenge is to keep overseas talent motivated and chugging along, he says.