Online medical care, entertainment, education and e-commerce creating several new employment opportunities
Zhang Xuefei, a 34-year-old salesperson for a high-end cosmetics brand in Beijing, is considering changing her job since the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has kept many would-be shoppers away from physical stores.
"I am not satisfied with my current salary package. Many department stores and shopping malls have closed their doors or shortened operating hours in response to growing concerns over the contagion. There have been no more than 20 consumers visiting our brick-and-mortar store on average each day over the past two months," Zhang said.
"Sales of cosmetics dropped dramatically due to the contagion, and so has my commission. In addition, it is difficult to make a big jump up the pay scale if I continue to remain with the same company as promotion opportunities are also limited."
She has sent resumes to six companies mainly engaged in e-commerce via Boss Zhipin, an online job recruitment platform.
"I have applied for online cosmetics content editing and regional operation management positions of some e-retailers, including Vip.com and Mogujie," Zhang said.
She said more and more consumers are switching to online shopping, which presents promising prospects. "I want to step out of my comfort zone and learn professional skills to improve myself."
Spring is traditionally the peak season for job-hopping in China as workers explore their options following the Lunar New Year holiday. But their career plans are often being adversely affected by the pandemic.
Although the COVID-19 outbreak has reshuffled some industries, people are more active with their career planning and are more willing to switch jobs upon returning to the workplace, as new work opportunities are arising from e-commerce, online healthcare, education and entertainment.
According to a report from Zhaopin, another online recruitment company, about 95 percent of white-collar workers are willing to change jobs, among which 70 percent have obtained offers or are taking action to seek new work opportunities this spring.
Zhaopin said the competition among job seekers remains very fierce this spring, with the national talent competition index－the number of applications received per position published－at 46.3 in the first quarter. It means over 46 people are vying for each vacancy. The index rose by 11.8 points quarter-on-quarter.
Affected by the pandemic, the total number of job postings and applications fell in the first three months compared with the same period last year. Talent demand among private enterprises and small and micro-businesses dropped significantly, as they have been hit hardest by the outbreak.
The real estate, construction, building materials and engineering sectors had the highest levels of competition, followed by internet and e-commerce and the software sector.
Moreover, video interviews and online recruitment are helping fill job vacancies. Beijing-based life services and job-hunting platform 58.com said 70 percent of corporate human resources personnel hold positive attitudes toward video interviews.
A growing number of enterprises including Huawei, Tencent, JD and Suning are also launching online remote interviews. During the first 10 days after the Spring Festival holiday (Jan 24-Feb 2), the number of video interviews surged more than 20 times compared to the first week of autumn recruitment, according to Boss Zhipin.
It said during the second week after the Spring Festival holiday, the overall recruitment market was recovering, with recruitment demand rising 28 percent from the previous week. As of March 26, talent demand in the job-hunting sector had returned to levels seen a year earlier.
Chinese internet media company ByteDance, the owner of news aggregator Toutiao and video-sharing site Douyin, said it would offer 3,600 full-time positions this spring, with all interviews to be conducted online. NetEase also kicked off its online recruitment and will be offering 2,600 jobs.
Boss Zhipin said the digital economy and advanced manufacturing industries have played a significant role in the epidemic prevention and control period. And for graduates, there is growing demand from artificial intelligence, industrial internet, the internet of things, commercial use of 5G and other related industries.
"Professionals have a stronger will to seek changes after they return to work," said Lu Jian, president of employment-oriented social networking platform LinkedIn China. "We encourage people to proactively make career plans, establish clear goals and continue to gain skills and resources so that they can make career choices by themselves and grasp opportunities at any time."
According to a survey conducted by the company, 60 percent of respondents were confident in their ability to achieve better opportunities this year. Confidence in turning crisis into opportunity was particularly strong in the hardest-hit industries, with 65 percent of those in tourism and catering sectors showing optimism, followed by the internet and insurance segments.
Moreover, 70 percent of respondents said their career development has been affected by the outbreak, including uncertainty about personal development direction, wage and benefit cuts, sharp declines in workload and fewer opportunities for promotion.
At the same time, many employees are seeking new methods to increase income and diversify job options. Over 60 percent of respondents have begun or plan to be involved in hobbies or part-time jobs, and 78 percent said they will continue to have such jobs when the epidemic outbreak ends.
"The traditional landscape of employers taking a hegemonic position in corporate organizations is declining, while more power is placed in the hands of individuals," Lu said, adding that more flexible and adaptable forms of employment are growing in popularity, which also plays a positive role in stabilizing employment in a risky environment.
"In the digital technology sector, since the COVID-19 outbreak, online medical care, entertainment, education and e-commerce are witnessing many new business opportunities and we see demand for recruitment in this digital space continuing to increase," said Edmond Pang, regional director of global professional recruiting group Hays Plc in Shanghai and Suzhou, Jiangsu province.
"Good talent in this sector is truly in high demand where they have numerous job offers at the same time, especially ones in artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning and algorithms, where we have seen a number of employers offering 30 percent increase in total salary packages and a few have up to 50 percent for those unique skilled talent."
According to Maimai, a social networking app for office employees, "new infrastructure" construction covering 5G and smart logistics will be carried out and see considerable growth after the epidemic, suggesting employers focus on sectors including telecommunications, electronics, transportation and logistics, which have low levels of competition and could be regarded as good job-hopping platforms.
Lin Fan, founder and CEO of Maimai, said although many employees are facing uncertainty in their career development against the backdrop of COVID-19, what they should do is to actively engage in online social interactions and seek out emerging opportunities.