The report provides in-depth insight into employment conditions, key employee skills in demand, sector trends and salary benchmarks in Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan.


Greater China appears to be well-armed in withstanding volatility, despite the well-documented concerns surrounding the state of the region’s economy. Activity levels are positive, with the continued demand for digital specialists, among others, on the rise. While we are seeing some multinational corporations (MNCs) take a cautious approach to hiring amid an uncertain market outlook, mainland Chinese-owned firms are fast expanding and becoming increasingly competitive with their employer value proposition.

This report is based on the responses of over 1,000 employers across Greater China and insights received from a series of roundtables held with employers across the region.

Market Overview


The demand for digital expertise is growing in Beijing and China’s Northern regions as investments in the telecommunications, media and technologies (TMT) industry continue.

Companies are also expected to increase their headcount in sales and support roles. Meanwhile, the digital marketing area is also expected to see growth this year.

Digital marketing is a high-potential market, expected to affect almost every single consumer business or online-to-offline (O2O) platforms. As a result, we expect salaries in the sector to rise: senior MNC candidates looking to move into domestic companies could see their wages increase by 20-30%.

Things are also picking up in Beijing’s legal sector. The city is fast becoming the preferred location for legal and compliance hires as it provides better access to key officials and regulators.

While foreign law firms’ packages and benefits remain competitive, more middle to senior-level associates are also moving into domestic firms for the better perceived career development opportunities.

But things are not so rosy in the procurement and supply chain sector where many companies are tightening their belts because of a slow economy and rising costs. For example, we are seeing companies move out of Beijing and into Shanghai or faraway Tianjin in a bid to cut operating costs.

In a similar vein, the engineering and manufacturing market has had a difficult 2015 due to rising labour costs. With the market slowdown, many companies are instead focusing on improving the quality and efficiency of their production efforts to remain competitive.

The retail sector is also still seeing a demand for hires, albeit those at the management level. While the luxury end of the market is relatively static, the strongest hiring activity comes from fast-food restaurants which are enjoying healthy growth.


The current uncertain market outlook has led some MNCs in Shanghai and Eastern China to take a more cautious approach to hiring. This has however cleared the way for more bullish local companies to expand, especially those in the already fast-growing e-commerce, technology and financial sectors. In fact, 57% of Chinese companies expect to increase their overall headcount this year, compared to 37% of MNCs.

Candidates with solid technical skillsets as well as good business acumen are sought after by local companies looking to expand their operations. In particular, bilingual candidates with backgrounds in investment, equity research, credit collection, risk control and asset management are sought-after in the financial industries.

In the legal sector, we see a trend of corporate lawyers moving in-house for better work-life balance as well as career and personal development. The market remains active particularly for junior to middle-level lawyers, both within in-house and private practice. There are however fewer senior-level jobs due to fewer employee movement between firms. Meanwhile, Shanghai’s digital space is booming as digital innovations continue to drive the success of many companies.

But the popularity of the digital space, particularly the burgeoning e-commerce space, has overwhelmed the traditional retail industry — especially luxury brands, many of which are halting expansion plans and closing less lucrative stores.

Luxury retailers that currently have a base in Shanghai are also planning to further develop their business in North China where there is stronger purchasing power while sourcing offices have also moved to second-tier cities in China or even South East Asia due to lower labour and rental costs.

In East China, more MNCs are moving from first-tier cities into second-tier ones like Jiangsu and Anhui because of lower rental and labour costs. As a result, we see an increase in recruitment for plant-based roles in these cities.

Zhejiang has a large concentration of Chinese engineering and manufacturing companies. Many are facing a period of change due to China’s economic slowdown as well as the governmental tightening of environment controls. As these companies seek to transform their businesses to meet government requirements and grow profits, they are hiring professionals like research and development (R&D) vice-presidents, chief financial officers and chief human resource (HR) officers to help with transformation efforts.


Despite widely circulated reports of the slowdown in the Chinese economy, there are still clear pockets of opportunities in both Shenzhen and Guangzhou where some of the largest Chinese technology, digital and e-commerce brands have their headquarters. Candidates are increasingly viewing domestic Chinese companies with interest, where there are perceived opportunities for faster career progression and higher salaries compared with MNCs. This is especially true within Shenzhen’s technology and financial services industries where the “Talent War” rages on and demand for the best people continues to outstrip supply.

More domestic businesses are building up their HR capabilities to fulfill global aspirations. Notably, 23% of companies in Guangzhou have increased their recruitment budgets to attract more strategic HR professionals, a trend that clearly indicates an ongoing enhancement of human capital management capabilities as firms give HR a more prominent and commercial function in business. Meanwhile, there are also predicted salary increments (about 8-10%) in engineering, manufacturing, finance and marketing functions where demand for qualified professionals remains stable and supply remains limited.

We have also observed the continued shift in dynamics within Southern China’s manufacturing sector, as labour-intensive industries continue to migrate further inland, or off-shore to South East Asia, in search of reduced labour costs. However, highly-automated industries have chosen to stay in Southern China because of the region’s excellent infrastructure and engineering talent. Manufacturers in general continue to feel the effects of inflationary pressures in labour and supply chain costs, partly caused by turbulent currency markets. In some areas this has also created opportunities and we have observed increased activity in innovation, R&D and quality, lending momentum to the desired shift from “made in China” to “created in China”.

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Key Insights

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Sales Insights


The IT market is booming because of the investments in the TMT market. This has led to a headcount increase in various functions like sales and support.

Senior candidates in MNCs moving to domestic corporations may also stand to earn more. Those who have been working for one company for 3-5 years can expect a 20-30% increase.

Many applicants are in between jobs at the moment. Some may have lost their jobs because of the current economic softening while others are possibly exploring different options.

One growth area for 2016 will likely be digital marketing. This is a high-potential market, expected to affect almost every single consumer business or O2O business. There are definite talent shortages in this market.

Hot jobs: O2O sales and strategies.


The need for sales and commercial staff remains high, with the healthcare, life sciences, business services, industrial and fast-moving FMCG markets being particularly active in 2015.

Salaries have also continued to increase despite market pressures in some segments. This is because companies are expanding existing operations or are upgrading both their sales and commercial functions. Candidates are also confident of securing new jobs.

Chinese companies will likely continue to grow their businesses aggressively and are now actively and successfully recruiting candidates working within MNCs.

Hot jobs: key account managers/directors, sales directors, business development managers and country managers.


The key market to watch is the manufacturing industry and this includes the electronics, chemical and automotive sectors.

Employers are now increasingly discerning about the type of candidates they want to employ. Increasingly, candidates who can bring in new business are highly favoured.

For sales positions, employers are willing to pay more for good employees who can contribute to the overall company growth. Professionals with good people and communication skills as well as English proficiency are in demand. Companies are also paying more attention to sales employees’ business development abilities.

On the talent front, professionals tend to move to high-profile MNCs or industry leaders for potential career development. However, more candidates are also accepting opportunities in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), local companies, and new start-ups for the challenge.

Hot jobs: sales managers, sales directors, key account managers and business development managers are in demand, while e-commerce and marketing roles are also on the rise.


The FMCG industry in Southern China continues to show compelling signs of talent migration, with more experienced professionals from foreign MNCs moving over to fast emerging and rapidly expanding Chinese brands.

Recruitment for business services roles has also significantly increased. Meanwhile, professionals with international customer development and overseas market development experience are becoming more sought-after.

There is also an increased demand for candidates who have cross-sector client knowledge as more Internet+ and online-to-offline/offline-to-online businesses seek to break existing commercial boundaries in traditional sectors. Professionals are generally required to be more disciplined and structured in how they develop their sales strategies, rather than following a conventional, purely results-driven approach.

In Guangzhou, local businesses are taking a larger market share, with e-commerce becoming more prevalent. In Shenzhen, the number of international and domestic brand and channel sales roles is on the rise, resulting in a corresponding increase in demand for candidates with leadership abilities and hands-on sales connections. Salary expectations are also rising. Many employees expect additional incentives like housing and medical benefits or stock options.

There was also an increased demand for B2C and B2B sales professionals in Shenzhen, with clear spikes in sectors such as electronics hardware, IT solutions and telecommunications. This demand was largely driven by the continuing incentives from the Shenzhen government to high-tech industries, which helped strengthen the city’s already-strong manufacturing base and create an entrepreneurial environment. This trend is expected to continue.

Hot jobs: roles in traditional original equipment manufacturers (OEM), mobile application companies and the services sector, especially for positions like general managers as well as business development and sales directors in Shenzhen. On the other hand, roles in the O2O businesses at Guangzhou are highly sought-after.

Procurement & Supply Chain Insights


The e-commerce industry and logistics sector have continued growing at a fast pace, but traditional industries such as manufacturing are shrinking their operations and do not have the demand for talent at present.

Salary trends are at the same levels as last year. However, the trends within the e-commerce and food industries have risen above expectations.

Many supply chain teams here are moving from Beijing to Shanghai in a bid to cut costs. Some companies are looking to cut operation costs even further by moving to cities such as Tianjin.

Candidates are showing keen interest in working for fast-growing organisations.

Hot jobs: logistics roles, especially at the manager and director levels; sales and operations planning roles; and indirect sourcing roles.


More MNCs are localising their Asia Pacific procurement roles to cut costs.

Procurement excellence and sustainable procurement are now preferred ways to drive sourcing strategy, strategy alignment and functional collaboration in the long run. However, senior-level procurement candidates remain at a premium.

Many SMEs are also setting up their own procurement teams and seeking MNC candidates with multi-category sourcing experience.

The softening economy has affected the pharmaceutical, chemical, automobile, oil and gas industries. This means companies are cautious when it comes to increasing headcount. However, SMEs and local companies are increasing their numbers in a bid to expand their procurement processes.

Shanghai continues to see more investment because many companies are still headquartered in the city. Investment is expected to increase over the next 3-5 years, meaning that more jobs like regional supply roles may be in the pipeline.

The medical and chemical industries are also experiencing major changes and restructuring this year. We expect the supply chain function in these industries to be leaner.

Smaller logistics companies are expected to open or expand in China. This means that more senior-level candidates will be needed to either head or run these operations.


Many e-commence companies have strong hiring needs in procurement and supply chain management.

Salaries have been increasing by 5-6% in the last two years.

We are also seeing more employees from FMCG industries move to e-commerce.

Meanwhile, companies here have shown a preference for multi-skilled employees with import/export and international transportation experience.

Hot jobs: GMs in logistic centres, supply chain management directors and logistics managers.


Employment in the sourcing sector has been relatively stable
in 2015 compared with previous years. This is expected to be the same in 2016. The demand for high-calibre strategic sourcing and quality management professionals will remain.

Sourcing offices of retailers and importers are still facing competition from trading companies and buying agents who sometimes provide better sourcing solutions to overseas buyers. This is because agents and traders have more factory sources and can consolidate similar orders from different customers to get better prices from factories. However, with strengthened design and research and development (R&D) capabilities, sourcing offices of retailers and importers are able to offer more value-added services to customers.

Most employers plan to offer an 8-10% salary increase to their current employees in 2016 while candidates in the market are expecting at least a 20% increase after a job change.

Employees working in the traditional industries, like retail and FMCG, are showing great interest in the e-commerce industry. Those working in Western companies are attracted by the fast growth of local Chinese companies.

Skilled social responsibility and sustainability professionals are popular in the market. Retailers and brands are trying aggressively to increase suppliers’ attention in this area. Another type of skill in demand is Six Sigma/Lean Manufacturing. Sourcing teams are trying to develop suppliers’ capabilities rather than simply manage their own production schedules.

Cross border e-commerce is booming. Because of this, employers are urgently looking for talent who have an entrepreneurial spirit and an understanding of the cross-border e-commerce supply chain. More companies are localising their management team to meet the above goal.

The key market in Guangzhou is trading, with a focus on consumer durables such as footwear, apparel and house-wear. Sourcing and logistics skills are in particular demand.

Hot jobs: roles in the design and R&D areas. An increasing number of companies are looking to put such positions closer to factory bases to shorten the product development lifecycle and increase efficiency. Bilingual design and R&D talent will be highly sought-after.


Engineering & Manufacturing Insights


The engineering and manufacturing market, in general, is experiencing a slowdown due to labour cost increases, but technology-focused companies still maintain steady growth.

Salaries have continued to increase, albeit more slowly than recent years.

The talent movement in the engineering and manufacturing sectors reflects the shift of production facilities from manufacturing hubs in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen to the surrounding smaller cities (movement from Eastern and Southern China to Western China).

More employers now require employees to have both technical and commercial competencies.

With the market slowdown, most companies are putting their focus on improving production quality and efficiency, resulting in a need for candidates who can support that change.

Hot jobs: food quality managers/directors, especially within dairy, as well as plant general manager roles.


Hot areas in engineering include specialist sectors such as quality, environmental, health and safety (EHS) and research and development (R&D).

Safety was a key focus of many manufacturing businesses in 2015 and is still a required core skill for managerial and senior roles here.

Ongoing development and the relocation of R&D into China have also created very high demand in this area, particularly at the managerial and specialist levels.

Production management roles, including those at the senior and executive levels, have become increasingly focused on driving cost-saving and efficiency programmes to improve profitability, quality and output.

Industry professionals can expect to receive a bonus.

Average salary increases for employees switching between jobs range between 20-25% for mid-level engineers and 15-20% for senior roles.

Skills in demand are quality management, safety improvement experience, manufacturing cost control experience, leadership and training delivery.

Hot jobs: R&D managers, quality manager/engineers, EHS managers, operation managers/directors and plant/production managers.


Management-level employees will likely enjoy a 5–10% salary increase.

Manufacturing will likely be affected this year, particularly in the automotive and heavy industries, but new energy, medical, pharmaceutical and the food industries are doing well.

Lean manufacturing is on the rise: with the decrease of traditional manufacturing, companies are looking for experienced lean experts and IE (industrial engineering) experts to cut operating costs.

Team size: with the continuing development of automation, the production team size of some industries like electronic and packaging is shrinking by 5-10%. Quality and R&D team sizes will likely remain stable while new energy and medical devices may see an increase of 10-15% in R&D and engineering team sizes.

Hot jobs: R&D managers and directors, quality managers and engineers, EHS managers, operation managers/directors and plant/production managers.


With global uncertainty, many foreign MNCs are focusing on the domestic internal Chinese market – shifting the focus from ‘Made in China’ towards ‘Made for China’.

Due in part to government tax incentives,
demand for top talent in research and development (R&D) and Lean Manufacturing remains strong as employers fight for innovative talent who can help take cutting-edge products to the dynamic consumer market. The high-tech hardware, medical devices and automotive sectors are also attracting top talent.

In general,
professionals who have experience from both foreign MNCs and Chinese companies are gaining popularity in the market, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises.

Shenzhen, salaries are likely to continue increasing at 10-15% for managerial and higher positions. However, the general trend in Guangzhou is one of decline for senior-level engineers, though some with unique skillsets may experience pay increases.

Hot jobs: R&D heads, lean manufacturing roles, quality managers.

Retail & Sourcing Insights


We are currently seeing a demand for candidates with online operations experience in e-commerce pertaining to areas such as online retail buying and merchandising. Many employers are looking for middle management professionals up to the general manager level. We are primarily seeing this demand from the domestic market from small and large e-commerce companies as well as traditional offline retail brands looking to establish an online presence.

There is still demand in the luxury sector at the store management level, but we are not seeing much demand in mid to senior-level roles.

QSR (Quick Service Restaurants) seems to be the market with the most activity in Beijing. Many are recruiting senior-level operations employees, which is why professionals with restaurant franchising experience are highly sought-after.

Fast fashion and apparel is the most dominant sector in terms of supply and demand.

Hot jobs: regional operations managers/directors who have China and Asian experience in QSR.


The retail and sourcing market had a tough year in 2015. Most luxury and fashion brands have either closed less lucrative stores or stopped expanding.

The booming of e-commerce has overwhelmed the traditional retail industry. Many retailers, especially luxury brands, plan to develop their business in North China where there is stronger purchasing power. Meanwhile, more sourcing offices have moved to second-tier cities in China or in South East Asia for lower labour and rental costs.

Meanwhile, salaries continue to increase for high-quality candidates with solid experience and multi-tasking skills.

Retail employees typically tend to move to e-commerce to expand their skillsets. Candidates may have to become more flexible in relocating to cities such as Hangzhou, Suzhou and even those in South East Asia.

Hot jobs: planning managers, e-commerce merchandising managers and operation managers.


In South China, labour-intensive industries are moving inland or even to South East Asia, causing layoffs and resignations. However, high-tech and highly-automated industries have chosen to stay in the South because of the region's research and development (R&D) capabilities and infrastructure. Manufacturers are constantly seeking ways to upgrade both their R&D capabilities and supply chain management systems to remain competitive on quality and delivery. Thus, openings in procurement and supply chain management will generally be for roles that are less operational and more strategic.

We have also observed that an
increasing number of companies from traditional industries are entering e-commerce. Traditional apparel wholesale businesses, for example, are establishing their own branded retail platforms.

In terms of talent demand,
the need for generalists in procurement is decreasing while that for category specialists — especially those with technical backgrounds — is increasing. Candidates with exposure in procurement and supply chain management on a regional and global level are highly sought-after because overseas buyers are looking at building operations in different manufacturing bases around the globe.

More senior candidates from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia are relocating to Guangzhou for work. Professionals who have experience working across cities and a strategic mindset are in demand.

Most employers are offering diversified packages (such as salary, bonus and benefits, non-cash incentives) to attract and retain employees. At the same time, apart from salary, employees are eager to know manufacturers’ long-term goals and core competence.

Skills that are most needed include strategic procurement, category sourcing, planning with IT experience, logistics solution design, and supply chain management with project experience.

Hot jobs: roles in category sourcing, regional/global procurement and supply chain project management are in demand in Shenzhen. In Guangzhou, strategic marketing directors/vice-presidents, e-commerce heads, retail general managers (brand directors), franchise directors and sales directors are highly sought-after.

Marketing Insights


Demand for marketing professionals is stronger in the consumer goods, retail and TMT sectors.

Strategic marketing planning, instead of marketing execution, is in demand now.

The past few years has been a period of extraordinary growth in the digital and e-commerce industries, resulting in demand from employers, job seekers, and recruiters alike.

In recent years, digital trends and innovations have been the driving force behind changes in the employment market. As budgets continue to be moved into these online channels, demand for digital professionals will increase correspondingly.

Candidates’ quick job switches illustrate the increase in demand and shortage of suitable talent in this industry.

As a result, salaries in these sectors have risen steadily, and quality candidates can often demand much higher salaries and packages.

Start-ups tend to seek generalist marketers.

Agency employees tend to be more interested in challenges than stability.

Hot jobs: e-commerce, digital strategy, digital marketing, e-CRM, social media, user experience, design and developer, and product management positions. PR managers and heads, marketing directors and senior managers who have experience in brand management are also in demand.


In recent years, digital trends and innovations have been the driving force behind major shifts within the marketing industry. As budgets continue to be moved into these online channels, demand for digital marketing professionals has increased as well.

There is also an increase in demand across the board for digital marketing, e-CRM, consumer insight, product innovation, corporate communications and government relations professionals.

In the business-to-business sector, we are also witnessing a demand for professional marketers, particularly in corporate communications and partnership marketing roles.


In Guangzhou, the manufacturing industry is showing signs of slowing down, especially in the construction and mining sectors, leading domestic companies to increase their focus on marketing efforts.

Chinese companies have also begun to realise the importance of brand marketing, hence creating an increase in demand for marketing candidates who are from well-known foreign MNCs.

Employers are typically looking for employees who have a combination of
good market awareness, committed to doing a good job and strong people management skills.

Across South China,
senior marketing and branding professionals are in demand, particularly in traditional original equipment manufacturer (OEM) businesses that are transitioning to branded businesses.

Most employees are not only expecting salary increases but also allowances, housing and medical benefits.
Many sales and marketing professionals have shown interest in creative jobs such as online-to-offline/offline-to-online positions, and are willing to move if there are opportunities.

Hot jobs: general managers, brand directors, sales and marketing directors, PR directors, marketing directors, commercial management roles for new business units and O2O general managers.

Finance Insights


MNCs and domestic firms from the TMT, pharmaceutical and service sectors represent the majority of employers. MNCs typically recruit for finance analysis, finance controlling and compliance positions, while domestic employers are seeking talent with initial public offering (IPO), strategy, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and investment experience. Some of these positions may be based overseas.

Chinese domestic firms are more willing to benchmark or exceed the MNC salary range for the right candidates.

Employee movement can be divided into two trends: The first is mid-level talent from domestic companies rejoining MNCs due for a better work-life balance or working environment. The other involves talent joining a domestic firm for top positions to break away from the glass ceiling at MNCs.

Employees with strong business analysis, IPO, M&A, compliance and overseas working experience are in high demand.

Hot jobs: pre-IPO CFOs, M&A specialists, finance directors, finance controllers, finance managers, risk controllers and investment controllers.


The finance and accounting market remains active in China though the overall economic situation is not at its best. Some companies have tighter budgets but we have continued to see strong demand from the consumer and technology sectors.

The healthcare/technology sectors remain strong. More domestic Chinese healthcare/technology organisations now have an increased need for compliance, FP&A, treasury and chief financial officer (CFO) candidates, and those with MNCs backgrounds are preferred.

Candidates with the right skills and salary levels are still very popular and have multiple options. Companies are targeting talent with strong soft skills such as change management, business partnership, problem-solving and leadership.

Hot jobs: pre-initial public offering (IPO) CFOs, financial controllers, finance directors, business finance roles, and treasury (with a focus on funding) and internal audit positions.


The finance market in Jiangsu and Zhejiang remains healthy this year. However, in Jiangsu, quite a big number of companies are now moving out of the central areas to more remote cities to save costs. This means that candidates need to have more flexibility when it comes to relocation.

In Zhejiang, especially in Hangzhou, the TMT industry remains the biggest growing sector. A big change we have noticed is that employers are now also interested in employees from traditional industries who have strong commercial acumen.


Foreign MNCs and manufacturing firms continue to dominate uptown Shenzhen
and the surrounding second-tier cities with most hiring for full-function finance manager/controller roles. However local Chinese firms, peer-to-peer lending (P2P) and internet companies have monopolised downtown Shenzhen with most hiring for finance heads/investment/funding/Pre-IPO CFO roles.

Guangzhou’s economy is mainly driven by four key industries: FMCG, retail, property and manufacturing. Business partner level CFOs across industries are still highly sought-after. However, FMCGs in Guangzhou generally had a challenging year in 2015 due to fierce competition with local players and we except this challenge to continue throughout 2016.

Foreign MNCs have continued to view Guangzhou as a regional hub for shared services centres.

International manufacturing firms have a stable salary range while local companies provide very competitive packages.

We are seeing a strong talent shift at the senior level — especially professionals with IPO experience — from foreign MNCs to Chinese companies.

Hot jobs: CFOs, finance controllers, finance managers, risk controllers and investment controllers. Corporate finance knowledge is also highly sought-after in small and medium-sized enterprises that want to raise funds or seek public listing.

Financial Services & Banking Insights


The need for candidates in TMT, especially internet, mobile internet, internet finance, enterprise service, healthcare investment and financial advisory, keeps increasing. Although the real estate market is slowing, real estate investment candidates with diversified investment strategies, like equity and fixed income, are needed.

In the financial services market, sectors such as leasing, asset management, and wealth management are hiring. Bank employees also seem more willing to move between sectors.

Front office turnover remains high as these skillsets can easily be transferred. That said, skills like financing and deal sourcing are the most sought-after.

Salaries in front office remain highest compared with other jobs. We are also seeing a steady growth in compliance/risk/finance control positions.

Direct experience in specific industries is highly sought-after, as is three years or more spent in peer-to-peer lending (P2P)/leasing.

Hot jobs: finance controllers, credit risk managers (in P2P and leasing), funding managers, product managers and investment roles in private equity and venture capital (PE/VC) especially in TMT and healthcare industries, financial advisory, (cross border) M&A roles, securities compliance, project risk in PE/VC and operations.


The financial services market is growing. However, banking is developing cautiously and putting more emphasis on risk control.

Skills in demand include comprehensive business knowledge, risk control sense, China market knowledge and dual language expertise. Candidates with experience in compliance/anti-money laundering, credit risk, financial reporting, trading, equity research (A-share and H-share), insurance actuary, credit collection and asset management, and healthcare investment are also sought-after.

Hot jobs: credit traders and roles in compliance & anti-money laundering (AML), credit risk, private equity healthcare (senior-level positions), TMT, and financial institution sales.


There is an increasing movement of talent from small and medium-sized enterprises and foreign MNCs into fast growing start-up businesses.

Asset management, internet P2P and financial leasing are some of the hottest growth sectors in the Shenzhen market.

Demand for top talent in financial services remains very strong, with a high number of innovative financial services businesses fighting for talent in Shenzhen.

Candidates with
a mix of large corporate as well as entrepreneurial enterprise experiences are in high demand. Those with overseas investment, credit risk management and initial public offering (IPO) listing experiences are also in high demand.

Hot jobs: overseas investment directors, private equity managing directors, private equity investment vice-presidents, treasury directors, risk directors (credit), P2P general managers, and private wealth management sales directors.

Human Resources Insights


We are seeing demand from fast-growing local companies, especially in the internet and financial services markets.

There is also an increasing trend of mid to senior level-MNC candidates seeking bigger platforms where they can play decision-making roles.

Performance management and talent development are in strong need especially with large businesses. Consulting firm experience tends to be a strong plus.

Senior to executive function heads with experience from both MNCs and local companies are highly sought-after.

Hot jobs: chief HR officers, HR business partners (BP), group training heads, talent development directors and group recruiting directors.


Due to slower economic growth, MNCs are cautious when it comes to hiring. However, local companies, especially those in e-commerce, high-tech and financial services-related industries, are hiring more.

More MNC employees are considering a switch to local companies due to development opportunities.

We are seeing an increasing demand for talent development, organisation development (OD) and compensation and benefits (C&B)-related positions.

Candidates with solid technical skillsets, a stable career track record and good business involvement/acumen are in strong demand.

Hot jobs:
Asia Pacific HR vice-presidents, learning and development (L&D) directors, senior HR business partners and chief HR officers.


This year, employees in the digital sector are the most likely to change jobs. Also, over 50% of digital companies here have stated that they will likely hire this year.

Some 60% of HR employees in the digital sector think that it would be easy to find employment in the current market.

Hot jobs: OD directors and talent acquisition directors.


Chinese companies are investing significantly in upskilling their HR functions. This drive has led to an increased demand for specialists who have foreign MNC-style leadership and commercial skills, in addition to traditional HR expertise.

The boom in Shenzhen’s IT/internet/financial services sector has seen
entrepreneurial companies increase their headcount, in particular for highly-motivated, dynamic and business-focused HR leaders who can help plan and execute corporate strategies.

Companies are searching for candidates outside of South China and targeting talent pools in Northern or Eastern China especially for compensation and benefits (C&B), learning and development (L&D) and organisational development (OD) roles.

With such high demand for top talent,
companies have had to increase the benefits offered to attract the best. In addition to guaranteed salaries, some companies have also offered additional incentives or long-term performance bonuses to professionals.

On the employee front,
more HR professionals are now displaying a preference for senior roles in start-ups and small and medium-size enterprises as opposed to traditional foreign MNCs.

Legal Insights


More legal & compliance hires are being made in Beijing as the city's strategic location provides better access to key officials and regulators.

The North China market is becoming increasingly competitive between leading international and domestic firms.

Although foreign law firms’ packages and benefits remain competitive, more middle to senior-level associates may find leading domestic firms, and even newly-established boutique mainland China firms, more attractive for career development opportunities.

Some domestic firms are also matching the pay packages of selected candidates from international firms.

There is also an increasing demand for capital markets lawyers and private equity/venture capital (PE/VC) lawyers who can shift into front-office roles.

Hot industries and sectors this year include entertainment and media, internet financing, peer-to-peer lending, and domestic PE/VC funds.

Most large MNC roles are replacement hires, but there is an increasing demand for candidates with knowledge in intellectual property, copyright or patent licensing, especially in technology, media and entertainment, and manufacturing companies that want to enter joint ventures.

Hot jobs: funds lawyers, entertainment & internet lawyers, pre-IPO (initial public offering) legal directors, cross-border investment associates, banking associates, legal compliance officers, IP (intellectual property) copyright specialists.


The market remains active, particularly for junior to middle-level lawyers practicing in-house and in private practice. Over the last year, there were fewer senior-level jobs available due to lower employee turnover.

Legal candidates are generally more cautious in their employment outlook and less likely to switch jobs compared with few years ago.

Salary levels have gone up 8-10% compared with last year, due to inflation as well as high employer demand.

We see a trend of corporate lawyers moving in-house for better work-life balance as well as career and personal development.

Hot jobs: roles in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance, anti-trust, cross-border M&As and those requiring healthcare industry experience.

IT Insights


There is a strong demand in the IT services sector for candidates who have experience in consulting, cloud computing and enterprise solutions.

Internet firms are seeking candidates with social media and e-commerce experience.

Other in-demand skills are IT infrastructure and end user support, SAP/ERP/CRM/Salesforce, and digital marketing.


We predict that, in the next three years, more companies will outsource their infrastructure needs and migrate their infrastructure platforms to cloud systems.

Promotions will occur less often for corporate IT staff, and there are concerns for employees’ middle and long-term career development especially for infrastructure and SAP professionals.

The role of IT will evolve beyond its current support function. Mobile, big data and commercial technology solutions will likely drive business growth and help chief experience officers (CXO) to make decisions.

Hot jobs: IT commercial business partners, mobile IT project managers, information security managers, IT innovation officers, cloud solution architects, data mining experts.


More companies in traditional industries are investing in internet+ and O2O capabilities as they seek to break existing commercial boundaries in traditional sectors. This move has resulted in the increased demand for product management professionals who are able to translate potential customers’ needs and wants into tangible internet products.

Traditional enterprises are exploring the possibilities and opportunities found in the digital space, such as setting up their own e-commerce platforms. As a result, emphasis is placed on building O2O capabilities as these can sharply increase potential customer pools in short periods.

Local companies have much stronger hiring demands compared with foreign MNCs, particularly as the latter is undergoing restructuring, possibly impacting future market outlook.

In general, there is a high demand for IT professionals who come from first-tier internet companies. These companies have large customer databases and therefore, complex application systems that are upgraded more frequently or designed for better user experience. Employees from these companies are believed to be more experienced in the design, development and troubleshooting of such systems. Also, such professionals typically have solid project management experience in the digital sector and are also able to fit in with the “internet culture” of being open to new challenges.

More candidates are willing to join new start-up companies in the digital sector. Skills in constant demand include Java, IOS, HTML5, PHP, UED Design and knowledge in Ten-Million-User level app operations.

Property & Construction Insights


With the e-commerce industry growing at a rapid rate in mainland China, more e-tailers now require larger industrial spaces and facilities to handle their growing distribution operations, leading to a greater demand for professionals with leasing, operational management and land acquisition experience in the industrial property market. 

While domestic property investment levels remain stable, more local investors are now moving towards “outbound” investment and investing in residential and mixed-use developments overseas.

Historically, luxury brands took most of the spotlight in the retail space, but dwindling profits have caused many big-ticket item retailers to be more conservative in their expansion strategies. As a result, the prime areas to watch in 2016 will be fashion, lifestyle and affordable luxury.

Hot jobs:
international property business development, outbound investment professionals, leasing and acquisition specialists, interior design specialists, architects and project managers.


More investment and asset management talent from Chinese institutional investors and developers are now needed to oversee outbound real estate initiatives.

As logistic warehouse property continues to thrive in China, relevant talent in the acquisition, project management, leasing and facility maintenance areas are still highly sought-after by foreign and domestic investors and developers targeting this asset type.

In the current retail end-user climate, there is still steady demand for qualified design, construction, expansion leasing and facility management professionals, primarily from the following retail sectors: fast fashion, sportswear, food and beverage, lifestyle and affordable designer brands.

Mirroring the influx of outbound capital, several of the top brokerage firms and boutique service providers in China have established departments fully dedicated to servicing institutional and private investors. The talent sought-after by these companies include residential sales associates to attract domestic private investors to purchase units abroad and investment brokers focused on institutional buy-side representation.

Hot jobs: experienced interior designers and project managers specialised in commercial, workplace and high-end residential projects.

Digital Insights


The past few years has been a period of extraordinary growth in the digital and e-commerce industries, resulting in demand from employers, job seekers, and recruiters alike.

In recent years, digital trends and innovations have been the driving force behind changes in the employment market. As budgets continue to be moved into these online channels, demand for digital professionals will increase correspondingly.

Candidates’ quick job switches illustrate the increase in demand and shortage of suitable talent in this industry.

As a result, salaries in these sectors have risen steadily, and quality candidates can often demand much higher salaries and packages.

Hot jobs: e-commerce, digital strategy, digital marketing, e-CRM, social media, user experience, design and developer, and product management positions.

Secretarial & Office Support Insights


The current key market that requires most secretarial and office support is the financial services industry. Companies are investing more resources in support functions, especially at the executive level.

The average salary of executive assistants/secretaries is consistently increasing.

Candidates are moving from traditional industries such as manufacturing, engineering and automotive to professional services such as consulting firms, law firms and investment banking.

Written and spoken English are becoming essential skills for secretarial and office support positions here.

Hot jobs: executive assistants and board secretaries.

“The Z-generation requires more attention and a special approach. They typically value freedom and autonomy at work, and are more technology savvy, preferring social media or mobile technologies to face-to-face communication. That’s why we chose to use social media to communicate and build personal connections.”

– HR manager, hospitality industry

Select a tab to view either the standalone insights into Hong Kong or how the country compares with the Greater China region.