Tips for Hiring Local Employees in China

Tips for Hiring Local Employees in China
Jan 14, 2022 By Jessica A. Larson-Wang ,

Whether you’re the manager of a multinational company or a small business owner in China, at some point you’ll need to hire Chinese staffers. But what should you expect from your Chinese hires and what will they expect from you? Read on for our tips on hiring local employees in China.

Tips for Hiring Local Employees in China

Qualifications & Skills

It goes without saying that different qualifications will be required for different jobs in China. If you’re hiring factory workers or manual laborers, experience and a good attitude are obviously more important than test scores and certificates. When hiring Chinese employees for any office job, however, you should be looking for a bachelor’s degree, known as a běnkē (本科) in Chinese.

Administrative work is usually considered an entry level position in China, and, as a result, some employers will specify a desired age range and even gender. Although this is increasingly frowned upon these days, you might still see other companies doing this. It’s not advisable to set these kind of limits as a foreign employer, however, as, despite the obvious ethical concerns, you may also find yourself held to a higher standard.

If the position you’re hiring for requires interaction with foreigners – yourself included – you’ll want to look for someone with English ability. Keep in mind that Chinese people with good English skills usually expect to earn a higher salary than those without, and that many Chinese people are pretty proficient at reading and writing English but very unconfident speaking it.

In order to judge a candidate’s genuine English ability, therefore, it’s best to conduct a phone or in-person interview with them in English. You can also ask candidates to provide certificates, such as their CET or TEM scores. CET is the College English Test, which all Chinese graduates will have passed at either band 4 or band 6, with 6 being the higher level. TEM is the Test for English Majors and is divided into band 4 and band 8, with band 8 being really quite advanced.

Salary & Benefits

Probably the biggest question among foreigners hiring Chinese staffers is how much to pay them. When deciding how much to pay your workers, consider the cost of living in your base city. Salaries in first-tier Chinese cities should be higher than those elsewhere, for example. You should also consider whether or not the job requires extra skills above and beyond what is possessed by the average graduate, such as a second language, specialized certifications, or a technical skill, all of which could potentially raise the stakes a little.

As turnover is extremely high in entry level positions, which is a big issue for Chinese managers, you might feel inclined to pay more than the market standard. This may persuade your new hires to stay longer, or it may just result in a load of chancers making applications. It’s a good idea to look at what other companies in your industry are paying workers of similar ability and experience and follow suit. You can always gradually increase the salaries of the hires you’re happy with once they’re on board, which is usually a much better way of keeping staff motivated than offering an overly high starting salary.  

Finally, consider other benefits outside of salary. It’s not uncommon, for instance, for manual labor and service industry jobs to include room and board. While this is not common with white collar jobs, you could sweeten the deal in other ways, such as with private health insurance, a housing stipend, sales commissions, or a transportation allowance. Such special benefits are commonly used in China to give employees a little something extra while keeping salaries modest.

Expectations & Obligations

While China does have a labour law, it's not always very stringently enforced. Chinese workers, especially in entry-level jobs, are accustomed to a culture where overtime is mandatory and unpaid. Younger Chinese staffers will often work 60+hour weeks and would never dream of turning down a request to come in on the weekend. Although there is increasingly more backlash to the so-called 996 work culture, it’s unfortunately still a reality of many Chinese employees. Again, though, we suggest you stick to the Chinese labor laws (and your own moral code) as a foreign employer in China.

As Chinese bosses typically go to great lengths to foster a sense of community and obligation among workers, many see their company as a sort of family. If you want to run your office according to Chinese working culture, therefore, hosting dinners, planning office excursions, and giving out gifts and bonuses around the holidays are essential.

If you don’t occasionally throw some freebies out to your staffers they definitely won’t say anything outright, but expect some grumbling when, say, Mid-Autumn Festival rolls around and your employees are left empty handed while their friends start comparing moon cakes. Likewise, it’s customary to give monetary bonuses, or at least hong bao, at Chinese New Year, the generosity of which will depend on the seniority and performance of the employee.

Any more tips for hiring Chinese employees? Drop them in the comments box below.

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Keywords: hiring local employees in China


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interesting essay. thanks

Apr 01, 2022 02:57 Report Abuse



Hi, I want a job hired by a foreign company in China. I can help the company collect market information, negotiate with suitable factories/suppliers, place orders, arrange shipments, export procedures, etc. I have 10 years experience in international trade.

Feb 16, 2022 12:52 Report Abuse