Hr Market Update, April 2018 2000x500 Min

Profile Human Resources Market Update, Shanghai, Apr 2018

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.


  • China's economy expanded by 6.8% in the last quarter of 2017, the same pace as the previous three months and exceeding market expectations. In 2017 as a whole, the economy grew by 6.9%, well above the official target of 6.5%.

  • Thanks to policy support to lower costs and increase sales, industrial profits increased by 16.1% to 968 billion yuan (US $154.6 billion) in the first two months of this year, up from the same period last year and the 10.8% recorded in December.

  • In addition, retail sales grew by 9.7% in the first two months of this year, an acceleration from that seen in the same period a year earlier and the 9.4% rise seen in December. The uplift is largely due to better sales in the auto and home appliances sectors.

  • Well-established global financial institutions as well as start-ups within financial technology services (fin-tech) are heavily investing in their own technological capabilities in China as a result of the rapid rise of e-commerce. 


  • Strategic HR Business Partners and Talent Acquisition specialists have been highly sought after across all industries this year, notably in fast-growing sectors such as financial technology and the Internet.

  • HR candidates with an international mindset, solid local market knowledge and business acumen remain in great demand.

  • A great number of HR professionals are moving from traditional multinational companies to fast-growing Chinese companies. This is especially true for the rapidly expanding Internet industry, where HR professionals are in high demand, particularly those with expertise in organisational change and leadership development.

  • The demand for Diversity & Inclusion specialists with capabilities in improving cross-generation communications and cultural integration is increasing. In the workplace it is common for millennials and Generation X'ers to expect to be rewarded and recognised by employers for their efforts, with Generation X high-potential employees eager to be promoted to a senior role with management responsibility. These generational differences have resulted in a need for HR professionals to be skilled at scaling up multi-generational and flexible workplaces.

  • Building trust and solid relationships with business stakeholders continues to be one of the key skills that make top HR leaders stand out from the rest. Besides developing mutually beneficial relationships with business stakeholders, HR professionals who can effectively understand and manage the impact of mergers, stabilisations, transformation and globalisation at various stages are in demand.

  • Employer branding initiatives using social media are rising in importance as part of talent acquisition strategies adopted by companies. This space will be one to watch.

  • In relation to the Learning & Development space, the focus for businesses is gradually shifting from improving individual performance to driving team collaboration and retention. 


  • Average salary increases of around 8% have been the norm for HR professionals this year (excluding promotions). However, industry and level obviously play a major role here.

  • HR candidates looking for external opportunities can expect salary increases of 15 to 20% in general.

  • An increasing number of mid to senior-level candidates are selecting companies based on career longevity and progression, placing greater importance on non-monetary factors such as management style, company culture and career advancement opportunities, when deciding whether to move organisations. 


  • This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up policy to promote balanced trade. China will be increasing imports and eliminating import tariffs on some products, providing foreign firms great opportunities in a booming market. Some sectors and businesses that were off limits to foreign investment will see expansion this year.

  • China's job market remains robust and the outlook is bright. This year, China has committed to creating over 11 million new urban jobs, and keeping the surveyed urban unemployment rate within 5.5% along with the registered urban unemployment rate within 4.5%.

  • The number of jobs in HR Services and Operations is expected to decrease over the next few years, with automation gradually replacing roles relating to payroll, record keeping and resume capturing. Despite this, and during times of organisational transformation, demand for high-level HR leaders to drive change in HR Services teams will remain.

  • With the development of artificial intelligence and data modelling, employers are experiencing a higher degree of confidence yet, at the same time, must prioritise and engage in retention and engagement approaches that enhance the experience of employees, such as offering flexible working hours and wellness programs.

  • The rapid growth of Chinese companies especially within the Internet and financial services industries is intensifying and, as such, there will be an increase in hiring activity within this space. Moreover, HR professionals view local Chinese companies increasingly as an attractive option due to competitive remuneration packages and career possibilities on offer.


For more information or individually tailored advice, please do not hesitate to contact our regional Human Resources team:

Shanghai Office - please contact Shelya Zhou

Beijing Office - please contact Ming Ming

Hong Kong Office - please contact Amanda Clarke

Singapore Office - please contact Pei Fen Chong


Shelya Zhou, Senior Consultant, Profile Search & Selection


April 2018

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