Charlotta Lagerdahl
May 24, 2012

Five things you need to know about attracting young, Chinese talents

Charlotta Lagerdahl, director, corporate communication, MSL China and director, brand and talent, MSL Group Asia, shares insights on how multinational companies can look to attract and retain China’s next crop of graduates, which the agency calls 'Generation more'.

Charlotta Lagerdahl
Charlotta Lagerdahl

1. Parents still wield strong influence over their children’s career decisions

The generation gap between 'Generation more' and its parents is enormous. This creates tension between traditional and modern values, pushing this young and seemingly enlightened generation to make surprisingly traditional choices, based on what is considered important by the parental generation.

Parents are the main influencer in career choices, and they generally care about two things: job security and remuneration. Our advice is to not neglect the family’s influence. It is not enough to convince the candidate, the parents need to support the choice as well, something which companies need to consider when developing a communications strategy.

2. Graduates have sky-high expectations

Members of 'Generation more' long for role models—but not just any role model. They fantasise about following in the footsteps of admired heroes and inspirational leaders. While technical skills are important, 'Generation more' longs for more; a boss, mentor, inspirer, life coach and spiritual leader all wrapped into one person.

While a company’s leaders are always important, for 'Generation more', we believe expectations may clash with reality when they enter the workforce and start reporting to their line managers. Companies need to be prepared for this and to apply strategies to bridge this gap.

3. Many graduates reject the notion that they have to stay with a company for a long time in order to succeed

Members of 'Generation more' want to know what the employer can give them. Their aspiration is to learn as much as they can from one employer and then move on. Companies in China need to keep in mind that from their first day on board, young poeple in this group may not be planning to stay on with the company for a long time.

Hence, it is a good strategy to create strategic alumni programs to maintain the relationship and leverage the fact that there will be a big pool of ex-employees in the market who might—if the company plays its card right—be convinced to re-join after gaining experience elsewhere.

4. Education and career choices can be random and uninformed; leading to feelings of frustration and confusion

Parents and students can be surprisingly unaware of certain realities, and instead base many career choices and decisions on assumptions, word-of-mouth or what is considered 'hot' at the time.

Therefore, a company’s approach should be: 'Don’t sell—educate'. Be the one who guides them. We recommend that companies start targeting students as early as the high school level and outline the benefits of employment in your industry in an easy-to-understand way.

This approach will lead to more informed choices at the university level, decreasing the risk of unmotivated colleagues. It also means you will compete for the attention of students (as well as their parents) in a much less saturated market.

5. The group is not homogenous; never treat China graduates as one entity

'Generation more' is not homogeneous. While this group shares many similarities, experiences and influencers, they are also separated by different values and aspirations. We have categorised 'Generation more' into four archetypes: the Careerist, whose main driver is Potential, the Hedonist, whose main driver is Personality, the Adventurist, whose main driver is Passion, and the Idealist, whose main driver is Purpose. '

Develop a clear employer value proposition (EVP), based on your most important recruit archetype. Stay authentic and true to your brand, and focus on the drivers of the group most suited to your company culture.

Campaign China

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