The final quarter of the year is often a challenging one when it comes to recruiting great people.

From our clients we often hear about exhausted budgets and resultant headcount restrictions, while planning for the forthcoming new year can pull the focus of hiring Managers and HR leadership away from recruiting. This can inevitably reduce demand (jobs) in the market for the final months of the year.

On the candidate side, a proportion of potential job applicants will be digging in to hold on for annual bonuses (typically paid in Q1 around CNY) thus denting the ready supply of talent. However, for those companies that ARE making key hires in Q4 there is always an attractive pool of proactive & opportunistic job hunters that see the reduced competition as an incentive to engage.

The 4th quarter for PageGroup in Southern China has been our best quarter on a number of occasions including 2017. There are a number of unique talent trends that we observe that should ensure the same in 2018.

Technological Innovation in Shenzhen – the Silicon Valley of China

According to a recent survey by Liepin, Southern China is developing quickly in the fields of digitalization, electronics industry, drone technologies and robotics. Compared with other regions, operation and marketing positons are in high demand constantly and while the talent race is on every quarter will be peak recruitment season.

Fintech continues to be a hot topic in Southern China. PageGroup's recent Fintech report highlights that the top 3 areas of hiring focus in this sector are big data, AI and risk management – all extremely technical and within an industry that is equally niche. This makes for a very candidate- driven environment that takes seasonal hiring out of the question. Companies looking for these skills must have their eyes open constantly to avoid missing out on a rare gem.

Shenzhen's AI industry also has great potential with over 200 AI start-ups plus a host of famous big AI companies including DJI, UBTECH, etc. Meanwhile Tencent, Huawei, ZTE and a number of other high-tech companies are investing heavily in AI research and application development. All of these add to the attraction of a move to the dynamic city of Shenzhen, as highlighted in a recent study by iyiou. In addition, PageGroup's latest AI & Robotics report indicates that the greatest job creators in the next three years will be E-commerce, Financial Technology & Mobile Communications companies, with over 50% of jobs in related areas. This bodes well for Shenzhen, Guangzhou and the rest of the Greater Bay Area.

Traditional Industries still going strong in Guangzhou

While Shenzhen attracts many headlines, it's easy to miss the progress of Guangzhou. It's true that Guangzhou employers have struggled to compete with the flashing lights of Shenzhen and to some extent there has been a bit of a brain drain in these hot areas above. Yet Guangzhou remains the dominant domestic consumer and international trading hub in Southern China. The city has held this mantle for thousands of years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

As such, according to Dayoo, traditional industry remains popular among talent in Guangzhou. There is always strong demand in Construction, Engineering and Real Estate in general while e-commerce and "new retail" continue to excite in Guangzhou. With the rapid rise of new technologies such as big data, cloud computing and mobile Internet, there is also a large demand for talent in information transmission, software development and information technology service industries. Guangzhou is also a key location for shared service centres in Southern China with many companies choosing this as a location for significant back office functions.

Attractive policies and welcoming environment

Shenzhen's talent net inflow rate ranked fifth among all Chinese cities in H1 2018 according to Liepin's survey, with most middle and senior "job migrants" flowing down from Guangzhou. In terms of industry, the vast majority of talent inflow has been Internet related with the key reason being that "Shenzhen has attractive policies in attracting talent and it is friendly to outsiders." Others cities in China can learn from Shenzhen's approach to talent attraction.

Southern China has become a hot bed for ambitious Chinese domestic companies and we are seeing a real shift in the attitudes of these employers. In particular we've noted much greater emphasis placed on enhancing career paths, benefits and company cultures in order to entice and retain the best people. International companies in China can no longer rely on these hooks to win the talent race and complacent overseas firms hoping to exploit them will find an outdated narrative falling on increasingly deaf ears.

No slowing at year end

The recruitment market is hot in Southern China and the talent war rages. The 4th quarter is one of the best opportunities of the year to be in it, and to win it, as competitors lose focus or budgeted funds in the run up to year end and the big holiday periods. My advice to anyone at this time of year is to get involved - it may not be as easy as the high season from April to July but for all the above reasons you can still find gold…... if you're looking for it!

Looking for a new team member? Speak to a Michael Page specialist today.

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