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February 12, 2012

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Demand rises for weibo specialists

GLOBAL economic uncertainty is affecting the local labor market as people seek job security. Victoria Fei speaks with industry experts to uncover some of the positions expected to be among the most stable in 2012.

Employment and human resources industry people say job security is the key trend in the job market this year.

With the economic downtown due to the debt crisis in Europe and less demand in the US, people are most concerned about job security.

They also want higher salaries and a long-term career development path to stay ahead of inflation and improve the quality of their lives.

Research and statistics show some jobs are more stable than others. Despite the existence of such statistics, professionals in the industry have some different ideas about the most secure jobs for this year.

Hong Xiangyang, founder of Sunward Employment Agency in Shanghai, says Internet marketing professionals top the list. Hong says since many small and medium-sized companies face a difficult situation during the economic downturn they need to promote their brand and products.

From traditional advertising to multimedia promotion and online searches, professionals in this field have become more popular now.

A microblog specialist ranks as the second most secure job for 2012, according to Hong.

The fast development of microblogs, or weibos, has caused a growing number of enterprises to set up weibo accounts. They then use the microblog to build brand image, link with clients and attempt to increase their market share.

Weibo specialists are required to be online to deal with all Internet demands quickly. In the instant gratification era of the Internet, dealing with online demands quickly and efficiently is vital to remain popular among followers. Hong says this is a can't miss profession this year.

The other professions rounding out the top 10 on his list are: career development instructors, senior tourism consultants, teachers, public servants, doctors, lawyers, programmers and chefs.

Cherol Cheuk, general manager of Hudson Shanghai, an executive recruitment and talent management firm, says sales professionals will be the most secure job for this year.

"Although it depends on industry and sector, it's always the sales position in any organization. This position generates revenue for a company, which is indispensable," Cheuk says.

"Also, research and development positions are in hot demand. Many large international companies have been recently establishing R&D facilities in China, giving a substantial boost to recruitment activity."

Kensy Si, general manager of Talent2 Shanghai, believes the most secure jobs are those in public sector, government, state-owned enterprises or the sectors least affected by the global economy.

"State-owned companies would never layoff people, because they have a commitment to the public. For industries like luxury goods, retail and health care, they would be less affected as well," Si says.

"China has a huge domestic need. For health care and pharmaceuticals, when you are sick you take medicine whether the economy is good or bad."

Si forecasts that 2012 will become more of an "employers" market.

"Employers will have more say and job applicants will find it tougher to ask for large pay raises," Si says.

"Also the interview process may be longer, as employers will likely want to make sure they get the best talents."

There is a great deal of turnover in the job mark immediately after the Spring Festival.

Many companies pay bonuses just before Chinese New Year and people who are unhappy or looking to move up the corporate ladder often will wait until they get the bonus before switching to a new position.

Yan Xu, 29, is seeking a new job after working at a design company in Shanghai for three years.

She says her salary doesn't match her expectations and there is little space to develop. Still, the key to her decision has been the birth of her daughter last year, which raised her sense of insecurity.

"Only if I change to a position with better benefits will I feel I have enough for my daughter's future and our family's future," Yan says. "I expect a 30 percent rise in salary after switching to a new company."

Liu Xingyang, senior human resource consultant of ChinaHR, believes that different people have different ideas about secure jobs.

"It is hard for us to define a 'secure job'," Liu says. "But we have noticed that job seekers are sensitive to the macro-economic environment and tend to choose well known companies or firms with a strong background. In some sense, they are truly seeking something more secure.

"In this situation, small and medium-sized enterprises will undoubtedly be affected the most. Based on Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security statistics, the employment situation remains tough this year," Liu adds.

According to the survey on job trends in the first quarter of 2012, 23 percent of participants hope to be employed by a larger company, 27 percent prefer those with better business performance, 33 percent prefer industries and cities with more development opportunities and only 17 percent said they would stay in their current position.

Liu says these statistics show that job seekers long for more security. In 2012, "difficulty in job hunting and difficulty in employee recruitment" will coexist.

Liu also says a ChinaHR survey in 2011 found that when people look for a new job, they balance several factors -- the company's development prospects, chance for personal development, salary and livability of the city they work in.


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