Winning the Recruitment Battle

I was in Beijing about a month ago and among other things conducting interviews for a new role I have opened.  It was a bit of an eye-opener and the difficulty finding good people since I haven’t been directly involved in the China market for the past several years.

It is extremely difficult to find qualified applicants.  And those who make the cut end up being very expensive.  I won’t go through the who story.  But it is a familiar tale for those who actively recruit in China (or other emerging or hyper-growth markets).

Here are three principles I live by when I hire, in China or anywhere else:

1) Hire the right people for the right job.

I was reading a couple of business management books recently; Winning by Jack Welch and From Good to Great by Jim Collins.  Both authors had the same conclusion when it came to the people part of the business.  Hiring the right people is not enough… we need to put the right people in the right job.  As Jim Collins puts it, first is to get the right people on the bus, then get the right people in the right seats.

In a hiring situation, I look for people with passion and motivation.  I try to spot those who have resiliency.

2) Hire for Passion

People with passion bring a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, excitement and energy to the job they do.  They tend to have "clicked" with their inner-self and what they do for a living, becoming intertwined with life and work.  Work-life balance is not two dichotomies but as the balance of  ying and yang. 

People with passion want to and can do more.  That’s a great return on investments for companies who hire the right people.

3) Give people stretch assignments.

People with passion have a natural tendency to do well in their assignments.  They also tend to have the capacity to do more if given the right opportunities.  So, get them in the right seats and give them the space to do their work.  Get out of their way. 

By the way, hopefully, this goes without say, provide above average reward for above average work.  Recognition goes a long way in furthering commitment and loyalty to the company.


Hiring the right people is tremendously difficult.  The lack of qualified applicants continues to haunt those companies that continue to expand in China and other markets in Asia.  It goes without saying that hiring the best is directly proportional to the success of the company.  Therefore, do not under invest in the recruitment efforts.

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