Skip to content
Hays - Recruiting experts worldwide
  1. I am
    I am

A faster career path and stimulating salary scheme will bring Hai Gui home, says Hays

Updated: 14 Apr 2016

Family ties bring many Hai Gui back home, but good job opportunities and the possibility of a faster career path are also key to attracting returners, according to a survey by recruiting experts Hays.


Hays spoke to 454 Chinese residents who are either studying or working overseas, but thinking about coming back to China for their next career step.


“Returning Chinese offer employers the opportunity to recruit local talent with highly valued international experience, but they come with a price tag,” says Christine Wright, the Managing Director for Hays in Asia.


“For employers, they are an alternative for both local and Western businesses that have relied on Western expatriates to run their Chinese operations.  In our survey, we sought to find out what motivates Hai Gui to return, what real value they offer over less expensive candidates without overseas experience, and what is the best approach to their recruitment.”


According to the findings:


·         Motivations: 41% of returners are motivated to return in order to live closer to family. A further 13% miss the culture and lifestyle in China.  17% feel that China has more job opportunities for them, and 25% expect to have a faster career path in China.

·         Type of organisation: 67% want to work for a foreign-owned enterprise when they return.

·         Location: 42% want to work in Shanghai, 23% in Beijing, 9% in Shenzhen, 7% in Guangzhou and 3% in Suzhou.

·         Industry: Over one third (35%) want to work in China’s financial services industry. 12% want to work in IT/telecommunications, and 11% in professional services. Around 5% or less want to work in advertising/media, education, engineering, healthcare/pharmaceutical/medical devices/biotech, oil & gas/resources and retail.

·         Salary: 30% want to earn a salary equivalent to their current earnings. 34% will only come back to China if they can increase their salary. 31% are willing to take a drop in salary to return to a good job.

·         Advantages: 49% said cross-cultural communication skills are their number one advantage over local candidates. 26% said it is their overseas work or internship experience.

·         Length of jobs search: The majority expect it will take three months or less to find a job; 18% think it will take less than one month to find a job in China and 53% said between one to three months. One in five (21%) expect it to take three to six months to find a job, while 7% said it will take them more than six months to find a job back in China.

·         Movement overseas: In a separate survey, Hays asked 297 jobseekers if they would consider working overseas, either now or in the future. Almost half (49.5%) said they would consider working overseas for better job opportunities, career development or exposure. A further 42.8% would consider working overseas for lifestyle factors, such as air quality. Just 7.7% would not consider working overseas. So it seems that the movement of professionals overseas shows no sign of abating.


“Many returning Chinese understand their worth in the global marketplace,” said Christine. “They are aware that a combination of Chinese cultural awareness and global business acumen offers significant value to many organisations in China, and want to realise that value in the reward structures that they receive upon returning.


“According to our survey, if they were to return home 30 per cent want to earn a salary equivalent to their current earnings. But 34 per cent say they will only come back to China if they can increase their salary.


“Our survey also shows that family ties are a strong motivator in bringing this talent back home, but so too are the career opportunities available in China, particularly in Shanghai’s financial services industry and in foreign-owned enterprises.


“Interestingly, returners recognise that bilingual language skills are no longer an advantage over local candidates. In many cases, a graduate from a local Chinese university now speaks English just as well as an overseas returnee.


“Instead, almost one half (49%) say that cross-cultural communication skills are their key advantage in the jobs market. Such skills can only come from being immersed in another culture and gaining the work experience and insight to give you intercultural understanding and cultural adaptability.


“In our experience of recruiting returners, it is certainly their work experience that now makes them stand out. Overseas study on its own no longer provides an immediate advantage - returnees need experience in order to have an advantage over highly educated local candidates who have not travelled abroad,” she said.


Advice for employers

When recruiting Hai Gui, the greatest challenge faced by employers is to avoid overpaying while still making sure they offer enough to secure this great global talent.


According to Hays, employers recruiting Hai Gui should firstly make sure they pay appropriately for skill, and nothing else. This is a finding supported by Hays’s recent Generation Y China report, which found that this generation prefers their performance to be measured based on skill set and merit not years of experience and seniority.


Then, find your leverage and recruit intelligently. “What attracts a candidate to your organisation might not be financial,” says Christine. “As our survey shows, talent can be brought home by family ties and career advancement opportunities, so talk to your recruiter to gain a deeper insight into what motivates the candidate. With this knowledge, you can tailor your offer.”


According to Christine, employers should also work to hold on to the professionals they already have. “It is increasingly reported that Chinese staff leave because of undelivered career development, not poor salaries. According to our survey, 25 per cent of Chinese overseas returners are considering coming back to China because they believe they will have a faster career path here. This highlights the importance of putting a solid and individualized retention plan in place, which includes open and honest discussions with returnees about their career development expectations,” she said.


Profile of Hays’s survey respondents

Of our 454 survey respondents, 60% had studied (or are currently studying) in Europe. A further 12% studied in Australia, 5% in the United States, 4% in other Asian countries outside China, and 1% in Canada. 14% studied in China.


30% hold a Bachelor degree, 60% a Masters (including MBA), and 6% a PhD.


Over one quarter (28%) have between one and three years of experience. 11% have between three and five years of experience, and 26% have more than five years of experience. The final 36% are students who are yet to gain overseas working experience.


In China Hays operates from four local offices: Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou.


Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.


- Ends -


For further information please contact Kathy Lou, Marketing Manager of Hays in China, on +86 (0) 21 2322 9600 or


About Hays

Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide.


Hays Specialist Recruitment  (Shanghai) Co., Limited ("Hays China") operates across the public and private sector, dealing in permanent positions. Hays China’s eighteen specialisms span Accountancy & Finance, Banking, Architecture, Construction, Education, Engineering, Executive, Finance Technology, Human Resources, Hays Resource Management, Information Technology, Insurance, Life Sciences, Manufacturing & Operations, Oil & Gas, Property and Sales & Marketing.


Hays China operates four local offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Suzhou and Guangzhou. It is the local representative office for Hays plc, which is a global company. As at 30 June 2014 the Group employed 8,237 staff operating from 237 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2014, Hays placed around 57,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 212,000 people into temporary assignments. 24% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific.


Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.