Beijing China

Recruitment Companies in China

Recruitment companies

Recruitment Companies in China Overview

I recently said I would talk about Guanxi (关系) but I have decided not to beat a dead horse. It seems everyone and their grandmother wants to write about Guanxi and quite frankly it is overrated and most are just blowing air out their….. Well you get the idea. Today I will talk about something that is more important and more likely to affect your life in China. I want to talk about recruitment companies.

Why use Recruiters?

Here in China it is very difficult to hire foreigners and so many companies outsource this to a recruitment company. The way it works is very simple; the company you want to work for doesn’t have the legal status to hire foreigners so they find a company that does or one that is created for the purpose of hiring foreigners and that recruitment company hires you but you work for a different company.

So you want to work for company A, but you are hired by company B and company A pays company B and company B handles all the legal problems of hiring foreigners. So where you show up and work every day is not where the government thinks you work. You show up every day at company A but your visa states you work for company B. Think of it like a middleman and like all middlemen they take a percent of your pay.

Why are recruitment companies a problem?

Well for starters you will often find that the recruitment company has many of the same problems that the company you work for has i.e. they have problems hiring foreigners. This can become very frustrating because it can become very tiresome dealing with a recruiter that only cares about money and not job satisfaction. If you have a problem with your visa you cannot work directly with your company to solve the problem you have to work indirectly with the recruiter and the recruiter often doesn’t care.

Where will you find recruiters?

You find a lot of recruiters in the education and IT sectors in China. They often will have multiple job offers available or be looking for many different people for a similar job (i.e. Teachers and Localization Testers). The best way to find out if you are working with a recruiter is to ask to see the office/school and talk to the boss.

They often do not want you to talk directly with the employer because this often allows the employee to cut out the recruiter and work directly with the company. If you have direct contact with the company beforehand this puts the recruiter at a disadvantage (i.e. you might know how much they pay the recruiter per month) and so most will not allow you to talk to anyone from the company.

How do recruitment companies work?

Many companies pay a set amount per month to the recruiter for the position they want filled. For example there is a position available for 15000 RMB per month; the recruiter will advertise this position for 10000 to 12000 RMB per month depending on experience. So, someone who doesn’t know better will say getting 10000 RMB per month with no experience sounds pretty good and take the job.

The outcome the employer pays 15000 per month and the recruiter take 5000 RMB and the employee makes 10000 RMB per month. Everyone is happy right! Wrong! What happens next is after they get you locked into a contract (that means nothing) they forget about you and move on, they really don’t care and often force you to pay for everything on your own (i.e. Visa, Health checks, etc.)

How to avoid recruitment companies?

  1. Ask a lot of questions about the company and the position. Most recruiters have only learned the very basics about the job they are posting because they have many jobs to post. So, they will often not know a lot about any specific job. They will often say they will look into it or they have to ask their boss about it. This is a good sign that they might be a recruiter. If you are talking to them directly on the phone or in an interview and they can’t answer your questions they might be a recruiter.
  2. Ask to see the work place. Like I said earlier many recruiters will want to meet at a coffee shop or other similar place and they will not want to take you to the work place.
  3. Ask to speak to the supervisor. If you are going to work for someone it is good to know who they are and if you get along with your future boss. Ask to speak with your new boss; if you are dealing with a recruiter they will try to avoid this at all cost.
  4. Pay attention to the business card they give you and check the website listed on it and call the company phone number. This might give you more information about the person and give you a better idea about their identity.
  5. If the job is not specific to one location (i.e. teaching); ask if they have jobs in other cities or if they have any other offers available. If they tell you about other jobs in other cities or companies than you are probably talking to a recruiter.


Have you ever worked with a recruitment company and if so what was the experience?

Recruitment companies

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    May 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Recruiters…. they are a head ache! From what I’ve heard. Haven’t worked with / for one, luckily.
    You mind if I use this article as inspiration for a Dutch one?

    • Reply
      Chairman Migo
      May 3, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      Feel free to use it if you want and yes they are a headache I have worked with a few. Never a good time.

    Leave a Reply