Why more and more overseas professionals are flocking to private-owned Chinese companies?

Bruce Zhou December 14, 2015 3 mins read

As the global economy changes and the period of 'super-national' preferential policies comes to an end, foreign-owned companies are no longer as popular in China as they once were. Meanwhile, the rapid development of certain local, private-owned companies has provided an alternative career path for talented professionals from abroad.

As the professionals continue to develop and become more experiences, local private-owned companies are increasingly on the looking out for talented employees. These local private-owned companies hope to recruit experienced managerial staff from overseas companies as a means of fuelling their growth.

Throughout my career as a headhunter, I have had several interactions helping Chinese private-owned companies recruit executive employees. One cannot deny that the positions and salaries offered by certain private-owned companies are very attractive to overseas professionals. However, if overseas professionals launch themselves down this career path purely based on a job title and a salary, then they may end up feeling like fish out of water once they relocate. Therefore, I suggest that, before choosing private-owned local companies as a career path, overseas professionals should carefully consider each offer from a number of angles.

Whether or not you should work for a private-owned Chinese company first depends on the industry to which it belongs, as well as the channels and opportunities for development it offers. Consider the prospects of the industry for the company. In the last couple of years, the e-commerce and environmentally friendly electric vehicle industries have begun to prosper, attracting overseas professionals. Also look at the company's status within its related industry and whether it's already an industry leader or getting started -  what counts is whether or not it will allow you to make use of your strengths and fulfill your potential.

Next, should you decide to work for a private-owned company, it is important that you have reasonable expectations. People who have become used to the process and systems of overseas companies should get to know the private Chinese company for whom they are considering working and then based upon that knowledge, establish some reasonable expectations. Once, a professional manager complained to me that the production line of a private owned Chinese company was worse that he'd imagined. However, if you consider this from another perspective, the lacklustre aspects of a company are precisely the areas where you can best demonstrate your value as a manager.

Finally (and in my opinion, most importantly), when you are deciding whether or not to work for a private owned Chinese company it is important to consider your boss. Many people comment that the bosses of private-owned companies don't leave a lot of room for compromise—whatever they say, goes. In most cases, where overseas professionals have successfully relocated to private owned Chinese companies, the boss has played a key role. The type of boss that appeals to overseas professionals does not appoint staff by favouritism and does not give people the impression that they are running a family business. These bosses have a liberal attitude and listen to the advice of the managers under their supervision. They are open-minded and are willing to delegate power.

An additional piece of advice where your salary is concerned: in private owned companies, your salary really comes out of your boss's pocket. That means that the higher your salary is, the more your boss expects from you. As you discuss your salary with your prospective employer, find out what their hopes are and weigh the salary they offer you against the expectations that come with it.

Bruce Zhou's picture
Senior Manager | Industrial & Life Science Recruitment