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Editor’s Take: Candidates are hijacking Chinese hiring

The balance of power in the Asian job market has clearly shifted towards job seekers this year.

In fact the power of some, mainly senior, candidates is now so great that they are turning down offers late into the recruitment process, or even reneging on signed contracts.

Several recruiters have recently reported more cases of hiring “hijacking” in Singapore and Hong Kong this year because counter and multiple offers have increased, giving candidates more last-minute employment options.

But nowhere is the trend more apparent than in mainland China.

“We are now seeing ‘no shows’ after the employment contract has been signed. These people just turn up to work somewhere else, or accept a counter offer. Sometimes they don’t even bother telling the recruiter who placed them,” says one headhunter who asked not to be named.

This may be because contractual obligations don’t always count for much in China if you haven’t actually started work at the bank which wants to employ you.

“Candidates there are more commercially motivated than in Singapore and Hong Kong. If a bank comes up with a better financial offer, they think ‘why not accept it’. It’s a purely rational, commercial decision. As a recruiter, you’re often better off getting them to sign an Excel spreadsheet than a contract. For us it’s a very frustrating.”

The best way for banks to combat sudden candidate loss is to ensure their hiring procedures are as efficient as possible. Job seekers are especially tempted to look elsewhere if verbal approval is given in Asia, but they have to wait weeks for final sign-off to come from the US or Europe. Time, as they say, kills deals.

But in today’s market, it seems even a sign-off doesn’t offer a cast iron guarantee that the candidate will eventually walk through the door.

Have you pulled out of a deal late in the day? Let us know below.

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