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Profile Human Resources Market Update, Shanghai, Apr 2017

The following report provides an update on the key trends that we have observed within the Human Resources job market in Shanghai. It identifies emerging themes across various industries and details the major factors impacting hiring and talent movement.


  • Generally speaking China started the year well with robust economic data being published in the first few months of this year. There has been concern over the China and US trade relationship since the conclusion of the US election in late 2016, but upcoming meetings between President Xi Jinping and Donald Trump could help calm fears and positively impact trade policy between the two countries moving forward.

  • The Chinese economy grew by 6.7% in 2016 with a slight pick up in the last 3 months of the year, and this economic momentum has continued in the first quarter of 2017. The manufacturing sector played its part and there has been heavy investment in infrastructure in recent years. An increase in imports and a jump in exports paint a picture of economic strength for this year.

  • The economy continues to be more balanced with more emphasis on domestic consumption and service-led economic activity as opposed to its previous heavy reliance on manufacturing. Multinationals are still finding success cooperating with Chinese firms, specifically within the Technology / Digital, Hi-Tech and Healthcare Services sectors.

  • Experts  estimate  that  China  contributed  39%  of  the  world’s  economic growth in 2016.


  • Despite significant world events in 2016, domestic demand for HR professionals with base salaries of under RMB 1.5 million remains robust. Above this level demand is lower but is expected to pick up this year.

  • Employers  are  continuing  to  invest  in  hiring  strategic,  commercially minded business partners and specialist CoE professionals, which include those within Organisational Development, Talent Management, Rewards and Talent Acquisition.

  • Candidates looking to make an external move are continuing to place a heavy emphasis on career development, ability to make a meaningful or impactful  contribution,  work-life  balance  and  employer  financial stability. An additional trend coming out of 2016 was the increased importance, to prospective candidates, of leadership and its alignment with corporate vision.

  • Organisations are also continuing to place importance on bilingual talent who possess an international mindset. Those with regional experience are often considered to hold a slight advantage over those with a more domestic background.​


  • Based on salary studies within the market, China is expected to continue to remain in the lead in terms of salary increases within the region.

  • External hires, of in-demand talent, continue to enjoy attractive sign-on bonuses, generous stock allocations and base salary increases ranging from 20 to 30%. Sectors with high growth are predicted to experience even higher increases.

  • Employee engagement and retention initiatives will continue to be a top priority for employers looking to secure top talent in the market and retain high potential employees.

  • Due to the positive start to 2017, top performers were rewarded in terms of annual bonus allocations. However, annual merit increases for most have continued to remain rather conservative, with only some slight increases for senior HR leaders.


  • Despite global uncertainty, the economic outlook for China in 2017 is positive and very much in line with 2016.

  • Employers are continuing to feel genuinely upbeat about domestic hiring activity this year. However, companies will continue to be faced with the challenge of finding high quality mid to senior-level HR talent.


Pei Fen Chong, Director, Profile Search & Selection 


April 2017

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