Companies looking for hints on how to use social media for recruiting may want to keep an eye on China.
Unlike in the U.S., where the recruiting industry has a long history that parallels the evolution of businesses and technology, job-search services in China are still developing along with the country’s private sector.
The explosive growth of Chinese social-networking sites coupled with inadequate recruiting platforms, is driving many companies in China to experiment with new methods such as social media.
“Traditional recruitment processes, as they are understood in the West, only really started to be used in China after 1978, with the gradual liberalizing of China’s economy,” said Mike Tims, the Asia, Middle East and Africa president at global human-resources consultancy SHL Group Ltd.
The China division of auditing and consulting company Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. last September offered a “virtual office tour” on its career page on Sina Corp.’s Weibo, a Twitter-like Web-messaging service. The effort is designed to create a community of potential candidates and build relationships.
Set up like a videogame, the tour starts with a scene at the airport where visitors choose their destination—Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. After visitors “fly” to the city of their choice and arrive at the local Deloitte virtual office, they can go to various parts of the office such as meeting rooms and talk to employees. At each different location visitors collect a green dot, and the tour is complete when they’ve collected six dots. So far, about 17,000 people have played this office-tour game, the company said. Deloitte China’s Weibo career page, launched in 2010, now has more than 48,500 users following it.
Around the world, more companies are using social media in recruiting. In an annual global survey of HR professionals compiled by SHL this year, 46% of respondents said social media sites are effective tools for recruiting and reaching quality candidates.
Between April and June this year, Lenovo China found about 70 candidates through social media, the company said. While Lenovo’s primary social recruiting tool is LinkedIn, Ms. Wang said she also uses Tianji, a Chinese-language professional social networking site that is similar to LinkedIn. Tianji Chief Executive Derek Ling said the site, which had 10 million users in April, is now adding 500,000 users per month. The company is now in the process of building new systems to allow companies to search and recruit through the site. Mr. Ling expects the online recruiting business in China to grow to be worth $1 billion by 2014 from the current $750 million.