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Views from Sunny Song, Director, Suzhou


How is the employment market looking for your region and/or industry?

Overall growth is healthy and we saw solid progress last year as many manufacturing companies moved from Shanghai to provinces which are closer and lower in costs.

South Jiangsu is transforming its industrial structure and as such offers good opportunities. This sparks development in more research and development centres as well as regional shared services centres. In this light, organisations are looking for professionals who are well versed in accounts payable/receivable as well as other business functions.


What are some of the in-demand skills you are seeing in your market?

In general, companies want candidates with multinational experience. At the same time, organisations are seeking to localise their business and as such, professionals with local connections are highly regarded. This is a trend that was first spotted in Shanghai and is currently practiced in Suzhou.

With mid-level positions, companies are looking for individuals with good commercial sense and communications skills, particularly in English.

Also, there has been a strong demand for individuals who are strong in research and development, for example, real scientists who are technically oriented and hold PhDs. Overseas backgrounds are also desirable. Of course, it is difficult to find professionals who fit the exact profile.


Can you share some of the trends in salary expectations?

At a junior level, candidates expect a 30% to 50% increase when changing jobs as their base salary is low, usually less than RMB10,000 a month. For mid-level candidates who are drawing around RMB10,000 per month, they expect a 20% to 40% increase. While expectations of salary increases at the senior level are fairly similar to mid level positions, we see some senior level candidates who are willing to make a lateral move or take a pay cut in exchange for a simpler lifestyle that is cheaper and less stressful.


How are you expecting the market to look over the next 6 to 12 months?

I expect the focus to shift to second and third tier cities, as companies make efforts to lower costs by moving their operations away from traditional first tier cities.

Companies will continue to look for replacements for the large numbers of expats who are leaving China.

Several categories of Chinese companies will also be seeking senior level hires. These are typically:
-    Those seeking to list on stock exchange
-    Listed companies
-    State Owned Enterprises(SOEs)