In a sign that Chinese candidates aren’t yet suffering from the crisis of confidence that is afflicting most of the world, a new survey points to a comparative abundance of job offers and healthy compensation increases.
According to figures from the MRI China Group, about 75 per cent of mainland financial services professionals have had at least one offer over the past 18 months, with 30 per cent receiving three or more.
“Candidates have a saying in China: ‘it is no harm to try’. They feel there are still a lot of opportunities and they should try to see what else is out there while the market is still OK compared with Europe and the US,” says Nardia Munt, practice director and deputy GM, MRI China. “The majority of positions are in sales and product-specialist jobs, which directly relate to profit, rather than cost-centre roles.”
Of those who accepted a new job, nearly half received an increase in total compensation of 31 per cent or more. Munt says: “The financial services market in China has developed only in recent years, so people with more than 10 years’ experience, who started their careers overseas, are high in demand, which will usually result in a bidding war.”
Those with strong English-language skills are generally more likely to receive large pay hikes when moving between foreign firms. “Salaries are being driven up by returnee candidates as they expect international standards of pay, which boosts the market average.”
Counter offers are also fuelling wage inflation. “And with multiple offers, which are happening for more than half of all candidates receiving offers, firms often increase the cash component to get the candidate to accept their job over the others.”
Almost 9 per cent of the survey respondents accepted a counter offer after resigning. With the equivalent figure for Hong Kong almost identical, this is an indication that Chinese candidates can often adopt equally aggressive tactics during job negotiations.
“The ‘shopping for a pay rise’ effect is common in China. Often candidates want to get an offer so they can show HR what they are worth. They will invite the counter offer with an ‘if you can match it, I will stay’ approach,” says Munt.
Very few of these counter offers are generated by a genuine employer attempt to retain an employee, she adds. “In this market, the increasing rate of counter offers is more candidate driven – people offering what price they will stay for.”