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Recruiting Gets Social in China

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.

At some multinational companies, new ideas on how to use social media in recruiting processes are coming from their Chinese units.

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. Other Deloitte member firms around the world now plan to adopt similar approaches, saidArthur Wang, Deloitte China recruitment director.

Deloitte China's Weibo career page, launched in 2010, now has more than 48,500 users following it. "Some of the followers are very active and they often send us messages and inquiries," Mr. Wang said. That community proved effective when the company recently looked for interns on Weibo. Within hours, it received enough applications to fill the positions.

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, up from 36% last year.

The incentive in China to try new recruiting methods also stems from the challenges companies face there. Recruiting experts say online job boards in China often attract a glut of unqualified candidates for well-known companies and none for smaller firms, while there are simply too many headhunters with varying degrees of credibility, making the market chaotic.

Making the environment even tougher, Chinese companies with global ambitions increasingly are looking for the same kind of people as those sought by major Western companies trying to expand in China.

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