So you setup shop in Shanghai and started to look around to extend your web-development team? A recurring question I’ve received is how we used to spot talent in Shanghai. We started by looking at the universities but ended up hiring over 10 people with the experiences below.
1. Not so good: visiting universities at random:
On a Friday afternoon in 2010, I walked into the East China Normal University in Shanghai. I explained the guards that I was starting a company and had the desire to meet some graduate IT students. Surprisingly, I was let through. Two finance students showed me around. They were interested in my intentions but couldn’t help me more then point me to the software development building. I was let inside but there were barely any students outside the library. And the ones inside looked too busy to be disturbed. The only thing that didn’t make that trip a total failure is that I could leave my flyers on the canteen wall. However, in the following week, not one call came in. (A seperate story is how we came back to the very same uni to find great interns later) I had to find another way.
2. Better: seeking students online
3. Best: Networking
The first team members joined with the 51job method. I then had less trouble finding additional candidates. Because I could speak out about the additional member that we needed and that would often lead to a trusted employee vouching for a friend, they usually came with a great addition to the team. At that point the company grew and we had enough Chinese employees and HR staff to take care of the remaining searches, I was just involved when we interviewed the IT related staff.
The key takeaway I learned is to not wait for applicants to react to your job profiles. It’s way better to seek them out and the 51job website has helped me tremendously with this. At the time I tried finding team members at university, I had a wrong approach. A better way would have been to get in touch with the professors first before visiting (I learned that afterwards). Once you have a bit of a network, it’s easier to find people through your existing employees!