What is an Employer of Record

How to hire globally with an EOR

What is a Global PEO

An alternative to EOR

What is a PEO

Hire locally with a PEO

Our Methodology

Why you can trust our guides

Hire Globally

Find international talents

Outsource Recruitment

How to outsource recruitment

Work Visas

How to get a work visa

Digital Nomad Visas

Get a digital nomad visa

Best Employer of Record (EOR)

Hire globally with the best EOR companies

Best Contractor Management

Hire and pay contractors and freelancers

Best Global PEO

Discover the best international co-employers

Best PEO Companies

Save on payroll and HR costs

Best Background Check Companies

Screen employees before hire

Best Global Payroll Providers

Outsource international payroll

Best Relocation Services

Relocate employees internationally

International Company Registration

Get help to incorporate overseas

All Reviews

Compare all providers

1. Horizons

Best Global EOR

2. Remote

Best EOR for Compliance

3. Deel

Best EOR Platform

4. Papaya Global

Best EOR for Payments

All EOR Reviews

Compare all providers

Where do you need a service provider?

All Countries

Explore our detailed guides for professional advice on international growth, recruitment, compensations strategies, and a curated list of top service providers.

China Recruitment Agency

VERDICT: The best recruitment agency in China in 2024 is Horizons. Horizons are China recruitment and market entry experts, providing a complete China hiring solution. Depending on the client company’s needs, they cover talent acquisition, visas, PEO, and EOR services.  

Key Takeaways

  • Recruitment agencies in China bridge the gap between companies and qualified candidates.
  • Ensuring legal compliance in recruitment is essential for smooth business operations.
  • Technological advances aid agencies in optimizing recruitment processes.
  • The top China recruitment agencies in 2024 are Horizons, Randstad, Manpower, Remote and Robert Half.

Overview of the Chinese Recruitment Market

Recruitment in China requires a nuanced understanding of its dynamic job market and the importance of aligning with company culture. Market research is crucial for identifying opportunities and trends within this landscape.

1. Market Overview

A large and competitive environment characterizes China’s recruitment market. Companies vying for top talent in technology, manufacturing, and services must navigate a landscape where both multinational and domestic companies are active. Given the size and diversity of the Chinese market, recruiters often specialize in particular industries or regions to provide more targeted services.

2. Job Market Trends

The job market in China is evolving rapidly, with digitization and the rise of the gig economy influencing hiring practices. There has been a notable increase in remote work opportunities and flexible job arrangements. Additionally, the market has seen a surge in demand for skills related to AI, e-commerce, and green energy. Recruiting must stay abreast of these trends to remain competitive and adapt their strategies accordingly.

3. Importance of Cultural Insight

Understanding company culture is essential in the Chinese job market. Recruiters must appreciate the professional qualifications and the personal attributes that are an excellent cultural fit for an organization. This cultural insight facilitates the successful integration of new hires into businesses, ensuring that they contribute effectively and thrive within their new roles. Market research suggests that cultural compatibility is often as critical as technical expertise in reducing turnover and fostering employee engagement.

Top 5 China Recruitment Agencies

  1. Horizons. Horizons is a global recruitment agency and Employer of Record with a strong reputation for its China recruitment and HR expertise. With their regional HQ in Shanghai, Horizons can source top China talent, hire, and onboard employees, manage visas, and take care of payroll for all China-based employees. 
  2. Randstad. Randstad is a global recruiting firm that also offers a managed services solution. Randstad is a popular choice for large enterprises hiring employees in China. 
  3. Manpower Group. Manpower are global recruiters with locations all over the planet. They are committed to diversity and inclusion and can easily source top China-based talent. 
  4. Remote. Remote are global recruiters and employment specialists with a specialty in remote recruitment. Remote is a good choice for businesses seeking international remote staff and additional Employer of Record support.
  5. Robert Half. Robert Half are an international recruiting firm with a presence around the globe. Robert Half is ideal for accounting and finance recruitment in China. 

Video: Benchmarking China Salaries for Recruitment

The Recruitment Process in China

Recruitment in China involves intricate processes tailored to navigate the unique business landscape. Companies often engage specialized agencies to locate and attract suitable candidates effectively.

1. Standard Procedures

The standard recruitment process in China typically commences with a job analysis to establish the position’s requirements. Job postings are strategically placed on local Chinese job boards and social media platforms. Initial screening of applicants filters those who best meet the qualifications. It is followed by interviews, which can include multiple rounds, often starting with a telephone or video interview and progressing to in-person interviews for shortlisted candidates. Effective onboarding is crucial for successfully integrating new employees, encompassing orientation and training.

  • Job Analysis
  • Job Postings
  • Screening
  • Interviews
  • Onboarding

2. Executive Search Techniques

Executive search is particularly nuanced in China due to the high demand for top-level management who understands international business practices and local Chinese market dynamics. Firms specializing in executive search use their networks and extensive industry knowledge to identify high-caliber candidates. They may also utilize targeted headhunting techniques to approach passive candidates who may not actively seek new roles but possess the desired skills and experience.

  • Identifying Candidates
  • Headhunting
  • Industry Networking

3. Assessment and Selection

The assessment and selection phase is critical and includes comprehensive methods such as structured interviews, skill assessments, and sometimes psychometric testing to ensure candidates’ compatibility with the company culture and job demands. Referencing and background checks are meticulously conducted to verify credentials and work history. Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) agencies may take on these responsibilities, providing an end-to-end solution that ensures a more efficient hiring process for their clients.

  • Structured Interviews
  • Skill Assessments
  • Compatibility Testing
  • Referencing
  • Background Checks
  • Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO)

With attention to detail and a professional approach, recruitment agencies in China help businesses navigate the complexities of hiring in a competitive market.

Engaging a Recruitment Agency

When enterprises tap into the expertise of recruitment agencies, they gain access to customized talent acquisition strategies that align with their organizational needs. 

1. Benefits of Using Agencies

Recruitment agencies offer a plethora of advantages to companies. They expedite the hiring process, enhance the quality of candidate selections, and provide industry-specific insights that can prove invaluable. A notable example is FESCO Adecco, which curates job opportunities to align with the skill sets of prospective employees. Furthermore, agencies usually have a vast network to source candidates from, which is not easily accessible to employers directly.

2. Choosing the Right Agency

Selecting an appropriate recruitment agency in China demands careful consideration of the agency’s track record, specialization, and scalability of its recruitment solutions. Companies should look for agencies with a thorough understanding of the local job market and regulatory landscape, such as those that have witnessed a significant expansion, indicative of their robust service offerings and client satisfaction.

3. Managed Solutions and RPO

Managed solutions and Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) efficiently delegate the recruitment process entirely to an external party.

4. Leveraging Technology for Recruitment

In the ever-evolving landscape of talent acquisition, recruitment agencies in China harness the power of technology to streamline processes and amplify results. These tools connect companies with top-tier candidates, from sprawling online platforms to cutting-edge AI applications.

5. Online Recruitment Platforms

Agencies have embraced online recruitment platforms to access various job seekers. Platforms like 51job have gained prominence, functioning as comprehensive hubs for posting vacancies, attracting applicants, and managing the recruitment workflow. They extend a recruitment agency’s potential candidates nationwide and refine the search with advanced filtering options.

6. Innovative Sourcing Techniques

The introduction of innovative sourcing techniques has revolutionized the way agencies identify talent. By analyzing digital footprints across professional forums and social networks, recruiters can uncover passive candidates who may not actively engage with traditional job postings but fit the role perfectly.

7. AI and Automation Advantages

AI and automation are transforming recruitment by enhancing both efficiency and effectiveness. AI can screen candidates, schedule interviews, and even assist with initial communication, freeing the recruiters to focus on the personal engagement and vetting processes. Automation also ensures a consistent candidate experience and helps build a strong employer brand by maintaining timely and personalized communication.

Incorporating these technological advancements, recruitment agencies in China offer improved services to businesses and candidates, ensuring they remain at the forefront of talent acquisition innovation.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

In China’s coChina’s job market, a strategic approach to attracting and retaining top talent is essential. A Chinese recruitment agency must fine-tune its practices within talent acquisition, offering compelling salary benchmarks and benefits packages to stand out.

1. Developing Competitive Benefits Packages

Benefits packages are critical when it comes to hiring and keeping high-caliber employees. They should meet industry standards and reflect the needs of a diverse workforce. This includes the base salary and additional perks such as health insurance, retirement plans, and performance bonuses. 

An attractive job description serves as a company’s company session. It should clearly articulate role expectations, necessary qualifications, and the company’s cultural values. Incorporating insights into the business, its trajectory, and how the role contributes to the broader goals can make a job listing more appealing to prospective top-tier candidates.

2. Career Growth Opportunities

The promise of career growth is a vital pull factor for top talent. Outlining clear pathways for progression within the company and providing opportunities for professional development are essential aspects of talent acquisition and retention strategies. This may include mentorship programs, ongoing training modules, and regular reviews to discuss career aspirations and potential advancements.

Legal Aspects and Compliance in Recruitment

Recruitment in China is governed by stringent legal frameworks designed to regulate employment contracts, payroll administration, and the use of Professional Employer Organization (PEO) or Employer of Record (EOR) services. Firms must navigate these regulations carefully to ensure full compliance.

1. Understanding Chinese Employment Law

The Chinese labor market is regulated by comprehensive employment laws that oversee the hiring process, protect workers’ and stipulate employer responsibilities. Businesses must adhere to the national standards for working hours, wages, and social insurance contributions. Any violation of these regulations can result in significant penalties.

  • Working Hours and Overtime: Standard working hours and regulations for overtime pay.
  • Social Insurance: Mandatory contributions to the social insurance system for employers and employees.

2. Contract and Payroll Management

Drafting legally binding employment contracts is a critical step in recruitment. They must specify the terms of employment, including the job description, compensation, working hours, and grounds for termination. Payroll must be processed promptly, with employers required to disburse wages at least once a month and within seven days after the pay cycle ends.

Critical Elements of a Chinese Employment Contract:

  • Job description
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Termination conditions

3. PEO/EOR Services

Companies expanding into China may use PEO/EOR services to streamline their hiring process. A PEO/EOR can hire employees on behalf of the foreign company, ensuring compliance with Chinese labor laws and regulations, handling HR functions, and payroll management.

  • HR and Payroll Outsourcing: Facilitates onboarding, payroll, and compliance with local employment laws.
  • Legally Compliant Employment: The PEO/EOR acts as the legal employer, mitigating the compliance risks for the company.

Tips for Working with Chinese Recruiters

When engaging with recruiters in China, companies should prioritize establishing trust, ensuring clear communication, effectively negotiating terms, and maintaining ongoing support and feedback for a successful partnership.

1. Building Trust and Communication

Building a rapport with Chinese recruiters is crucial as they often hold the key to accessing trustworthy talent. Organizations should communicate transparently and frequently, respecting cultural norms and business etiquette. Expressing objectives clearly to align both parties is beneficial, facilitating a smoother recruitment process and highlighting the company’s goal for fostering a reliable relationship.

2. Negotiating with Recruiters

Negotiating with Chinese recruiters requires understanding the local market norms and practices. Companies may discuss services such as background checks as part of the talent acquisition strategy. Clarity in terms and conditions of service, precise job descriptions, and remuneration packages should be established to avoid misunderstandings.

3. Ongoing Support and Feedback

Once the recruitment process is underway, ongoing support from the recruiter can be instrumental in adapting and retaining new hires. Companies should seek recruiters willing to provide continuous assistance and receptive to feedback regarding the candidates they place. This helps create an adaptable hiring strategy and builds a long-term partnership between the organization and the recruitment agency.

Industry-Specific Recruitment Strategies

Industry-specific recruitment strategies are essential for sourcing the right talent efficiently and effectively. Firms must address each sector’s needs and challenges, leveraging technological advancements in recruitment and specialized knowledge of industry trends.

1. Technology and IT Recruitment

Given the rapid evolution of the technology and IT sector, recruitment agencies in China focus on candidates who possess strong technical skills and are adaptable to emerging trends. Tactics often include mining specialized job boards, attending tech industry meetups, and tapping into a vast network of professionals through social media platforms like LinkedIn. Agencies frequently maintain a comprehensive database segmented by skills and experience to identify top-notch technology candidates quickly.

2. Finance and Accounting Talent Search

The finance and accounting sector demands precision, regulatory comprehension, and strategic insight. Agencies conducting a talent search in this domain often rely on rigorous screening processes, including credential verification and assessment of a candidate’s candidacy with global and local financial regulations. Networking events specific to finance professionals and partnerships with relevant associations help pinpoint individuals with a proven finance and accounting productivity record.

3. Engineering and Manufacturing Sector Hiring

Recruitment within the engineering and manufacturing sector is characterized by a hunt for hands-on experience and the ability to innovate. Recruiters emphasize practical expertise and an understanding of the manufacturing landscape in China. Strategies include outreach to technical schools and engineering universities and collaboration with industry bodies to find candidates who excel in engineering disciplines relevant to China’s manufacturing specialisms.

Each strategy aligns with industry expertise to ensure the talent search yields professionals proficient in their fields and aligned with the hiring sector’s needs.

Evaluating Recruitment Outcomes

Practical evaluation of recruitment outcomes is critical for determining the success of hiring strategies. Recruitment agencies in China leverage specific metrics and techniques to optimize recruitment processes and ensure alignment with business objectives.

1. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are essential in measuring the success of recruitment efforts. They include metrics such as time-to-hire, which assesses the speed of the recruitment process, and quality-of-hire, which gauges candidate fit within the company. Agencies track these indicators to refine their recruiting strategies and enhance hiring quality.

2. Productivity and Cost-Effectiveness

Productivity plays a pivotal role when assessing the impact of new hires. Recruitment agencies must consider whether employees meet performance benchmarks and contribute to the company’s effectiveness. This is also crucial; agencies evaluate the cost per hire and the return on investment (ROI) to ensure that the recruitment process provides value without unnecessary expenditure.

3. Continuous Improvement Plans

Continuous Improvement Plans are integral for sustaining and improving recruitment quality. Agencies conduct post-hire evaluations and gather feedback to identify areas for improvement. These insights shape future recruitment practices, enabling agencies to stay competitive and efficient in the dynamic Chinese job market.

SMEs and Startups: Recruitment Considerations

In recruiting for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups, the focus should be on designing recruitment strategies that are flexible and cost-efficient and bridge the talent gap effectively.

1. Tailored Recruitment Approaches

Small and medium-sized enterprises and startups should implement recruitment strategies that reflect their unique business needs and company culture. For instance, companies may benefit from HR planning for SMEs that adapt to the changing economic landscape post-COVID-19. It’s also crucial to gauge what specific skill sets and personalities will thrive within the smaller, more agile environments typical of these enterprises.

2. Budgeting and Cost Savings

Budgetary constraints are a significant consideration for SMEs and startups in recruitment. Therefore, it’s essential to have a transparent and well-planned budget for recruitment activities. Cost savings can be achieved through strategies such as streamlined application processes, utilizing local recruitment services, and attracting candidates with the right balance of experience and company growth potential.

3. Partnership Opportunities

Partnerships with external recruitment agencies can be particularly beneficial for SMEs and startups. Agencies specializing in China recruitment may offer various services, from candidate sourcing to comprehensive onboarding support. Such partnerships alleviate the recruitment workload for smaller teams and potentially widen the talent pool with access to more diverse and qualified candidates.

Recruiting in China — Choose a 2024 Talent Partner

Talent acquisition in China requires an in-depth understanding of the local hiring market, regulations, and China business culture. Given the difficulty in carrying this out in-house, many companies benefit from hiring a local China hiring partner. 

Based on our assessment, our top picks for China recruitment companies in 2024 are Horizons, Randstad, Manpower, Remote and Robert Half.

China Business Guides


Yes. However, it is generally unusual to hire contractors in China, and will often make more sense to hire them as employees through an Employer of Record solution. 

Some can. Some China recruitment agencies, like Horizons or Remote, can source talent as well as handling payroll and employment compliance. 

At RemotePad, Lech draws on his professional experience to write about employment taxes and payroll (both remote, and in-office). Lech holds a Bachelors’ degree from the University of Kent, a Master of Arts (MA) from Kings College London, and professional payroll and tax qualifications. He has 20 years experience advising on all manner of tax and business planning matters.