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MSL China Executive Whitepaper

From Mao to More

Catching up with the next generation of talent in China
By Charlotta Lagerdahl, Caroline Dahl and Liza Zhang

About the research

At the end of 2011, MSL China conducted desktop research as well as 55 in-depth interviews with Chinese students in universities throughout Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Majors included engineering, finance, industrial design, architecture, linguistics, tourism management, psychology, international economy and trade, public relations, communication, journalism, law, sociology and human resources.

MSLGROUP is Publicis Groupes strategic communications and engagement group, advisors in all aspects of communication strategy: from consumer PR to financial communications, from public affairs to reputation management and from crisis communications to experiential marketing and events. With more than 3,500 people across close to 100 offices worldwide, MSLGROUP is also the largest PR network in fast-growing China and India. The group offers strategic planning and counsel, insight-guided thinking and big, compelling ideas followed by thorough execution. Learn more about us at: Twitter YouTube


For 23 years, MSLGROUPs Asia team has counseled global, regional and local clients, helping them establish, protect and expand their businesses and brands across this fast-growing region. MSLGROUP Asia was awarded Campaign Asia-Pacific's Network of the Year, 2011 for its enormous growth in the scale of its operations, client relationships, talent development, reputation and financial performance in the region. Learn more about us at: Twitter Facebook

About MSLGROUP Brand & Talent

Brand & Talent is MSLGROUP's global practice for advisory to clients for maximizing their employee investment by attracting better people to contribute more to their business for longer. From employer branding, to recruitment marketing, to employee engagement and change management, we find innovative and meaningful ways to manage our clients reputation as an employer before, during and after people association with them. MSL China is ongoing advising clients in mainland China in regards to employer branding, internal engagement and change management, successfully combining local China specific insights with best practice from the global practice. Learn more about us at:

About MSL China

Following the union with Eastwei MSL, MSL China is now a top 5 international strategic communications agency in Mainland China. With 200 colleagues across 4 offices, MSL China brings together over 20 senior consultants with more than 12 years of strategic communications experience in this key global market. Part of MSLGROUP Greater China, the largest PR & social media network in the region today, MSL China provides knowledge driven, integrated campaigns and advisory services spanning nearly every industry and communications discipline. MSL China has received recognition from the International Business Awards, The Holmes Reports PR Agency of the Year, the China International PR Association and Chinas New Media Festival for its creativity and effectiveness in strategic communications and industry-leading social media offering. Learn more about us at:

Photo by Joi on flickr

From Mao to More

Presenting the new, challenging Generation More
Attracting talent in Mainland China is a major challenge for multinational companies; local managers testify that their biggest challenge for growth in China is finding and retaining the right talent1. While it is a reality that current employees are hard to retain, and experienced hires are difficult to find, managers say that attracting recent graduates has proven to be increasingly difficult2. This is widely because managers lack relationships with this group, and find it difficult to approach them; there is little shared experience and few points of reference to rely on. Many of our clients have told us that they simply do not understand how to attract and retain this new generation. This might seem to be true for most markets, but our research shows that China poses unique challenges in this regard: Parents still wield strong influence over their childrens career decisions Graduates have sky-high expectations, to the point of being unrealistic Many graduates reject as outdated the notion that they have to work hard in order to succeed Most education and career choices are considered random and uninformed; this leads to feelings of frustration and confusion

Chinese society is changing rapidly, and this creates additional challenges. Values and drivers are in flux, so HR Directors and Country Managers must stay up to date on target group values and mindset if they want to communicate effectively with this changing talent pool. Media often gives the impression that Chinese graduates are beginning to reject multinational corporations in favor of local employment. Our interviews show quite the opposite; Chinese graduates still regard a career in a multinational as being highly desirable. One of the most important findings from a communications perspective is that there are large differences between job candidates. To help multinationals in China better position themselves among students who will be graduating during the years 20122015 from universities in Chinese tier-one cities, we divided candidates into four groups and identified several key strategies to enhance communications with them. Through this study, we outlined the common characteristics, influencers and drivers of upcoming graduates, and categorized them into groups to help companies better direct outreach efforts. The next generation of Chinese graduates want more and will not settle for less. Therefore, we have chosen to call them the Generation More.

How Generation Y Can Lead China, China Briefing, 2011-03-22 How Generation Y Can Lead China, China Briefing, 2011-03-22

Who is this Generation More?

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Catching up with the next generation of talent in China 5

Parents still influence career choices

The Chinese saying three years make a gap accurately explains how fast Chinese society is changing and how generation gaps are being created. Consequently, the generation gap between Generation More and its parents is enormous. This creates tension between traditional and modern values, pushing this young and seemingly enlightened generation to make surprisingly traditional choices, based on what is considered important by the parental generation. I think a lot of my decisions were made by my parents. I wanted to choose a university in Beijing or another place but they insisted that I stay in Shanghai. The pressure from parents is very heavy I think. I think my parents push their opinions on me all the time. - Stephanie, Japanese Language Major According to the students interviewed, parents generally care about two things: job security and remuneration. They push their children to choose majors which will help achieve these two goals or which they believe will do so; we found that both parents and students are surprisingly unaware of certain realities, and instead base many decisions on assumptions, word-of-mouth or what is considered hot at the time. An example is finance, which became immensely popular around 2009 and 2010, since parents believed it implied a bright future and high remuneration. I wanted to learn finance. It was popular, not because I loved it. - Summer, Electronics Major Actually public finance was chosen by my mother and father. They thought it would be a great opportunity; and I would have a bright future if I chose it. - Jamie, Sociology and Finance Major Whats hot also influences which employers Generation More want to work for, including companies they have heard about from friends and acquaintances, but may not have a keen understanding of. Several students interviewed stressed that their biggest desire was to work for large multinational corporations that have high brand recognition. Yet, when we asked students about these ideal companies, they barely knew anything about them. Im not quite familiar with these companies. Between big, international accounting firms, how can you really tell the difference? - Jeremy, Information Management & Information Systems Major

As a result, Generation More is unsure about their future and unhappy with their majors, which in many cases were chosen by their parents based on limited information. I like teaching. Its my dream job. Maybe teach in an elementary school. [] I got into ocean engineering. My father works in a shipping company and made the decision. I had no choice; I needed to continue my studies. - Vicky, Ocean & Shipping Engineering Major

But Generation More brings a brand new attitude to the table

Whats in it for me?
Compared to the parental generation, where contribution and hard work are valued and aspired for, Generation More instead wants to know what the employer can give them, and they have distinctly mixed feelings about working hard. My parents emphasize old things in society and working hard. My generation, we think working hard is not the most important thing. We think its necessary but not the most important. - Simon, Project Management Major Our respondents, on the other hand, tended to stress that their aspiration is to learn as much as they can from one employer and then move on. They are eager to gain experience and are always thinking about the next opportunity. I think the things Ive learned here are enough. I have no more things I can learn here. Another door is opening for me. - Kenneth, Communication Major Very few students highlighted the value of growing with a company for a significant period of time. Instead, the group is impatient and impulsive: if they dislike their current employer, they will generally just walk away, without much afterthought. I have heard that we should sign two or three years with a company. Is that true? When Ive learned the companys knowledge, its enough. - Stephanie, English Language Major

value and respect experience and seniority, while easily accepting their own role as inferior and less knowledgeable. [The boss] should be kind, be able to talk to his employees. Should listen to them carefully, not just listen to his own ideas. - Kenneth, Communication Major

But they DO need a role model!

Having a strong faith in ones own abilities, including questioning seniority, does not mean that Generation More is incapable of looking up to others. Instead, Generation More longs for role models but not just any role model. They fantasize about following in the footsteps of admired heroes and inspirational leaders. Like Bill Gates; he didnt go to university and he developed his own company. - Chandler, English Language Major Highly admired amongst Chinese university students are Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Kai-fu Lee (the former China CEO of Google) and Jack Ma (the founder of Alibaba). One student explains why she admires Jack Ma: I think hes creative, he always has innovations. When he was young, he didnt have a smooth life. He changed his life. [] The college entrance examination; he failed twice. He didnt give up. - Stephanie, Chemical Engineering Major This places huge expectations on their own bosses and future leaders. For members of Generation More to not feel that they have better ideas than their superior to bring to the table, they need their leader to be a larger-than-life character, someone to imitate and model themselves after. Most of our interviewees could not model themselves and their careers after their parents, who they watched work hard while staying relatively poor; further fueling the need for an external hero. While technical skills are important, Generation More longs for just more; a boss, mentor, inspirer, life coach and spiritual leader all wrapped into one person. Everything else might just prove to be a huge disappointment.

Questioning Confucius
Due to the substantial generation gap between Generation More and previous generations, conflicts in the workplace are inevitable. Chinese youth are becoming less accepting of hierarchy and discipline. Whereas managers often complain about a lack of independent thinking among older Chinese employees, the new generation displays a level of critical thinking and a willingness to question authority that senior management may be unaccustomed to. Youth belonging to Generation More want to make their voices heard and be listened to. They long for flat organizations where they can take initiatives and contribute ideas. They typically feel that they have fresh viewpoints that the senior staff may lack and they are eager to express them. While this may not differ from young employees anywhere in the world, we found this to be a rather surprising finding in China, where the Confucian worldview has traditionally molded young employees to

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Catching up with the next generation of talent in China 7

State Owned Enterprises vs. Multinationals

State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) are safe but a little dull
There is a night and day difference in brand image between multinational and national employers. According to our interviewees, state owned enterprises are too hierarchical and rigid, and lack freedom and openness. However, they are also more stable and less risky with a stronger emphasis on work-life balance as compared with multinational employers. State owned enterprises are generally associated with less challenge and competition. In local companies it may be a bit boring, cant offer many ideas, and always have to listen to the boss. There is not much space for your own ideas. [] In multinational companies, the work there; no excessive rules, just your ideas are worthwhile. If you dont wear a suit its okay. You will feel relaxed. - Kenneth, Communication Major Also, Generation More feels that the focal point in Chinese companies is interpersonal relationships guanxi and the nurturing of those relationships; which they are not generally willing to prioritize. This generation prefers to focus on their own capabilities; something they think is easier to do in multinational companies. If you want to be get a promotion you need to kiss your leaders ass. Thats the government. - Bill, Economic Law Major Foreign companies focus more on competence. Chinese companies focus on relations. If I work in a Chinese company, I will have to spend a lot of time to maintain relationships with others, not improve myself. - Christine, International Economy & Trade Major

Multinationals are fun but a little risky

The students interviewed had a positive brand image of multinational employers and, above all, American ones. Multinationals are seen as more open, with less rules and control than national companies. They are perceived to pay higher salaries, but also to have more fierce competition and higher pressure. They are also associated with international careers, teamwork, better development opportunities and a stronger emphasis on CSR. Companies in European countries or America do better than us. The companies of those countries will give back to society. In China, its less. Maybe the companies make a lot of money, but they hardly think about society. - Chandler, English Language Major Most interviewed students want to work for a multinational employer during the initial stages of their career, then change to a job in a Chinese organization later on, when the focus on family is stronger. I dont think I would take a job in a Chinese company while Im young; I want a competitive environment, a challenge. When youre young, youre able to have that kind of challenge. [] When youre older, you might be afraid. Faye, Industrial Design Major

Generation More in Four:

The Careerist, the Hedonist, the Adventurist & the Idealist

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One of the most important findings from our interviews is that Generation More is not homogeneous. While this group shares many similarities, experiences and influencers, they are also separated by different values and aspirations. We have categorized Generation More into four archetypes: the Careerist, the Hedonist, the Adventurist and the Idealist.

Careerist Focus
Me & my future


Me & the world

Me & society

Me & my family

Drivers of motivation





Me & my future

The Careerist

You can compare with other things such as friends, family. If you lose them, maybe your life will have very low quality but you can also realize your own value, you have your own dream. If you have a good career, you can make your life valuable. - Simon, Project Management Major

compared to other profiles in Generation More. Money and salary becomes an important driver later on in their career. I would like to work for a company that can offer me a good salary since Im a man. I need salary to support my family in the future. Maybe if I can earn a lot of money I may feel that Im successful. - Deam, Civil Engineering Major An example of a company catering to this group is Oracle China, which began its Graduate Development Program in 2003 to train future employees. This is a comprehensive education initiative aimed at grooming talented graduates from top universities to become future technology leaders. The program extends over two years and participants learn technology development as well as general business, practical skills and personal management effectiveness. Students who complete the course are offered positions with Oracle. In 2008, nearly 200 students participated in the program. Lenovo is another company always looking to recruit hardworking Careerists. The Chinese computer companys key message is: For those who do. We choose doers! Lenovo emphasizes that those in pursuit of vigorous dreams and prospective career development are encouraged to apply. Big companies often have good training programs; you know what you are capable of doing after three or five years. I appreciate some Japanese companies; they treat the company like a home. Offer some training, feels like home. I appreciate that kind of atmosphere. - Faye, Industrial Design Major Careerists need to be constantly challenged and want to work in a fast-moving, competitive environment with young and talented coworkers. They accept working overtime, as long as work tasks are challenging. Unlike the other profiles, Careerists thrive on pressure since they believe it can improve their personal abilities, and they are spurred when things are difficult.

The sky is the limit

Careerists have high career goals and they will sacrifice their personal lives for their careers. To female Careerists, being a strong and independent woman is highlighted as not only a career goal, but a life goal. Theres no limitation I think. If I have the skills, being a CEO is also okay for woman. [] I must go forward and keep going. - Alex, Business Administration Major I always want to be a super-woman; a strong woman in my career. I want to be a leader. [] Maybe I will spend a long time at work compared to other women. I will not give up on my career. I hope my child, when he grows up, he will be like me; independent minded, and not rely on others. - Tiffany, Industrial Design Major Careerists make detailed strategies for how to improve their competitiveness; of the four profiles, they have the clearest career plans. In my opinion, the next ten years might be the most important of my life; it might be a very busy ten years. It must be scheduled from morning to night. I need to achieve my goals step by step. - Stone, Technology of Micro Electronics Major

Driver of motivation: Potential

Careerists value the compensation package and growth opportunities with the employer - including salary, bonuses, benefits, training, mentoring and fast track programs above other aspects. Learning and personal development are more important for Careerists first job

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I want to do foreign trade. If I do trade with Chinese, its too easy. I cannot expand my horizons. I want pressure because I can stand on my own. Must be a job that keeps moving, I just want to keep moving. When I cannot keep moving, I have to go back and I cant be stronger when I always stand on one place. I just want to take on more challenges. - Chiang, International Economy & Trade Major

Dream boss
Careerists are in it for the potential, and the leader is the key catalyst. Hence, they claim to have little or no interest in pleasantries and other soft traits what they need is someone who can motivate them to achieve and learn more. Actually, I think its hard for people who have substantial knowledge about the industry to be nice. Pressure from veterans can motivate me to work hard; they are not my work-friends. Their temperament is not really important. - Yvonne, HR Major I like leaders who are strict with their employees, its important for the development of the company. Im a person; if you give me some stress, maybe I will improve much more. - Blanche, Financial Services Major

Fortune 500 is number one

Careerists want to work for big multinational companies with high brand recognition, which are industry leaders. Fortune 500 companies are especially sought-after. Still, Careerists have limited knowledge about the companies they aspire to join. I wanna work for Apple, its one of the biggest, high technology companies in the world. Therere a lot of talented people working there, young guys. I could learn a lot from them. - Yvonne, HR Major

Case I: PwC invests heavily in training programs to attract careerists

Accounting giant PwC invests heavily in training and development programs for its employees in China, something which catches the eye of Careerists. PwC promotes the development of individual careers and offers opportunities for transferring to other divisions and departments for short periods to gain different experiences and exposures and to get a better understanding of the work they perform. According to PwC, an associate employee receives on average 120 hours of training in their first year and in 2010 PwC invested more than 1.2 million hours to teach and develop its team.

Entrepreneurial type: The grand entrepreneur

Amongst Careerists, there is a strong desire to become successful entrepreneurs. Many of the students interviewed said that they wanted to create their own career by establishing their own businesses. When outlining potential business opportunities, we found that this groups high sense of self-reliance led to atypical entrepreneurial ambitions: Not just opening a company, but have it go to the stock market; something like Nasdaq in China. If you can be better in this market, you will make more money. - Liang Bin, Technology Information Major You always want your company to become famous; you want to be a successful man. The Chinese say; if youre a soldier, youre not a good soldier if you dont want to be a commander. - Simon, Project Management Major

The Hedonist
Me & my family
Just want a peaceful life
My dream is to go to Yunnan. Not a lot of competition. Have my little family, have my leisure time, I think its slow. Of course I would take my parents with me. Its a solitary life, thats what attracts me. The place is beautiful. I think I can be a teacher. As a teacher you can get two vacations. - Stephanie, Chemical Engineering Major I want to be a gardener, just plant some flowers; I think it is a beautiful job. Because I like the smell of the flowers, I think it can be relaxing to plant flowers in your garden. - Daisy, Electronics Major To Hedonists, the definition of success is to lead a peaceful life with little to no pressure or competition. Goals do not exclusively apply to career, but also to their personal life and development. Hedonists usually dont have a clear career plan.
Careerist Relationships in the workplace
Young & talented Learning from Co-workers

Nice & friendly Make friends in the workplace

Multicultural & exciting Communicate with foreigners Supportive & freedomgiving

Devoted & engaged Share great ideas

Ideal boss

Pushing & encouraging

Friendly & compassionate

Charismatic & inspirational

Drivers of motivation: Personality

Hedonists value that their personality fits with the employer. The employer personality is mainly judged by their attitude, company work-life balance, job security, peer group profile, culture and leadership style. Among the four career profiles, these students dislike the idea of working overtime the most. I dont want to work overtime, because in my spare time I can do other things, and develop myself. - Sophie, French Language Major Maybe I wont try to be outstanding in the company. If you do this, you will have to work overtime. - Summer, Electronics Major This career profile will sacrifice their careers for their family and quit a job if they feel their private lives are suffering. Thats why I want to get married at 25 to 28; I have three years for my career. After three years, I can change myself into a family and devote more time to my family. If my husband can support me, I will sacrifice myself and find a simple job to give more time to my family. - Yinfei Fan, English Language Major

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A focus on relationships
Collective values are fundamental to Hedonists. Of the four profiles, this group is the most traditional and the one who listens to their parents the most. Hedonists put more emphasis on relationships than the other profiles. They prefer teamwork over individual work and want to develop new friendships in the workplace. Conflicts are strongly disliked and they long for superiors who show kindness and sympathy. Everyone wants the boss to be a friend of yours. - Stephanie, Chemistry Engineering Major

SEOs provide a fitting work environment

Of the four types, Hedonists are the most loyal to their employer, and they are the most tolerant of boring work. Hedonists typically prefer to work in state owned enterprises since they tend to be associated with secure employment, stability and work-life balance. The quality of life, maybe, is an important part. Just because youre in the government, you will get more free time than other companies. [] I can do things I like in my free time. Improve the conditions of my life and family. Its very important; balance. - Luixin, Sociology Major Hedonists put an emphasis on enjoying little, everyday things; another area where state owned enterprises score relatively high: You get a lot of things; like during the Mid-autumn Festival, the company will give you a moon cake or something like that. The welfare is good. Its easy for me to be happy, I find happiness in small things. Dont have too many complaints. - Yan, International Economy and Trade Major Compared with other profiles, Hedonists also focus more on the physical attributes of the workplace. Maybe some plants, flowers, in the office and the air conditioning is good, some air and some light can come through the window. And the temperature in the office is good; about 24 degrees. - Tina, Finance Major

Entrepreneurial type: The romantic entrepreneur

The Hedonists entrepreneurial dream is to establish and own a small-scale lifestyle business, for example a coffee shop, a small hotel or a boutique where they can sell curated books, flowers, handicrafts or other things they love. They commonly talk about their ideas with friends during late nights while studying for an exam. Hedonists have a slightly nave attitude to starting a business; it is seen as a hobby and a way of self-fulfillment, where they can make friends rather than enjoy the actual business aspects or as an outlet for hard work. We like the smell of books. Many girls like this; they will come to our shop. - Sissi, International Economic Law Major I prefer to be the manager of a coffee bar. Many people come here and I can see many peoples lives. When they come here, I can see a lot of kinds of people; they might be happy or not happy. [] Its interesting to research their lives I think. - Stephanie, Japanese Language Major

Case II: IKEA looking for the right personality fit when hiring
Swedish furniture retailer IKEA takes a marketing approach to recruitment, in order to identify people with the right mindset and behavior rather than just attracting a large volume of candidates. The company has a strong corporate culture and wants to hire people who can live the companys ideals by communicating the IKEA spirit and vision and translating them into daily actions and behavior. To get to know their target employees better, IKEA brought together twenty potential candidates. Group members had to answer a series of written questions and participate in a personal interview, discussing what they knew about the company. IKEA also wanted to see how candidates reacted to recruitment specifications, and even what language would best appeal to them. IKEA further interviewed its present employees to get an understanding of how the recruiting policy was applied in practice and how employees viewed their work experience. Based on these research findings, IKEA produced a range of ads to be used in different media channels.

Me & the world

The Adventurist
Want to lead an exciting life
Im still young and I want to experience exciting things. Life is too short. Life is always by chance. Maybe tomorrow, Ill change my mind. - Yvonne, Tourism Management Major My dream is to stay in the UK and work as a Formula One journalist. Maybe it will not be as I expected, maybe I will hate it. If I hate it, I will just quit and go for another dream. You dont know what will happen tomorrow. Maybe youll die tomorrow. - Alice, Journalism Major Adventurists never make long-term plans for the future. Instead they prefer to go with the flow and see what happens. This group is the most changeable and unpredictable of the four types. First I thought my personality is suitable for HR but then I thought it was very boring. I dont like always working in the office. Im not sure what kind of career is suitable for me. I always change, Im changeable. - Sharon, Finance and HR Major Adventurists are much like Careerists due to their focus on learning and personal development, but whereas Careerists have a clear and consistent career focus, Adventurists are willing, or want, to try different professions. Of the four profiles, they are the most confused about their future careers. Actually my dream is to get different kinds of jobs in different places. I dont like to have the same job too long. I want to try different things. Actually, I want to teach English. Maybe more jobs, maybe be a bartender. I want a good job to experience life, maybe in different small companies, different departments. - Summer, Electronics Major
Careerist Main reasons for changing job
No challenge or promotion Better salary offer elsewhere

Too long work hours Too much pressure

Boring work tasks and workplace No freedom

Company not taking responsibility Cant express opinions

Driver of motivation: Passion

Adventurists value passion including fun and diversified work assignments freedom, independence and international assignments above all other aspects. They dream about working in a dynamic and energetic workplace with a multinational workforce. Adventurists like change and get easily bored if they are not stimulated. Of the four types, Adventurists are the ones who talk about being the most engaged in their future job but only if they really like it. I think I will stay until the day Im bored with this kind of job. - Vicky, Chinese Language Major

By highlighting passion and people with passion in recruitment ads, Google has become one of the most attractive employers in China especially amongst Adventurists. Google stresses that No matter what major you are in, if you have passion, Google is your home. The Chinese e-commerce company communicates a similar message to its potential employees; they stress that they do not choose talent based on their major; instead, they look for people with passion. According to, a person with passion will learn fast and work better. While Careerists argue that it is not possible to combine a career with a hobby, Adventurists think that it is. For instance, several students interviewed pointed out that they want to combine their interests in sports with their job. I want to be a commentator, like a news reporter for tennis matches. I really like tennis and I play tennis. - Cindy, Japanese Language Major

Want to be in control
Adventurists want to create their own path in the work place, and they want their superiors to be supportive and not interfere too much. They want to be in command of their own work time and treasure flexible work hours and the ability to work from home whenever they want. I think its the freedom to choose how to live, not be framed, I think its the most important. If the time is totally under my control, I think I can accept overtime work. I think I should have control of my spare time. - Stone, Technology of Micro Electronics Major Maybe I will be freelancer because I can have freedom from Monday to Friday and only work on weekends. - Jun Qian, Journalism Major

Wherever the wind takes me

My dream job is freedom. I want to travel more than work, find a job which takes me to many different countries, maybe for one or two years. And then go back to China and then go out again. I dont want to stay in one country for a long time. - Sharon, Finance and HR Major Of the four profiles, Adventurists have the strongest desire to discover the world outside of China. Freedom is a key concept for Adventurists. When I get tired of a certain city I will change jobs to another city. Find another more interesting job, Ill change. When Im young I will try different kinds of jobs in different places. - Summer, Electronics Major

Case III: Procter & Gamble pulls out the big guns to attract adventurists
Procter & Gamble has already adapted its recruitment efforts to Mainland China and what it offers to meet the needs of adventurous students belonging to Generation More. Rather than just promising higher wages, the company highlights opportunities for flexible hours, the chance to work from home, and the guarantee of regular three-month sabbaticals.

Eager to interact with multinationals

The job should have a lot of foreigners. People with different views of the world, you can share opinions and ideas. If this company can meet all my standards such as a lot of foreigners, send me to other parts of the world I can stay long-term. But just company very ordinary or I cannot get things I want; I think I will change company very quickly. - Jarvis, Architecture Major Adventurists typically feel that working for state owned enterprises implies too little excitement and too much stability; this life does not suit their adventurous aspirations. Thus, these students prefer to work for multinational companies or large Chinese companies with assignments abroad. Adventurists also have a desire to communicate with different nationalities and they are more comfortable than the other profiles in interacting with foreigners. I think international companies are more fun, you can meet more people. Exchange ideas and work abroad. And local ones are very dull, maybe very boring. People are not so competitive, dont fight to reach their goals. - Yvonne, Tourism Management Major

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The Idealist
Me & society

I just feel China has to change. Journalism is a way to change Chinas situation now. - Amie, Journalism Major
Careerist Spare time
Extra courses Internship

Drivers of motivation: Purpose

Idealists value the greater purpose of the employer, including its corporate reputation and commitment to environmental, social and governance-related issues, above other aspects. How the company takes responsibility for its employees is also of great significance. To Idealists, the company mission matters; it should have a greater purpose and be aligned with their own values. Values highlight faith and devotion to the employer. Of the four types, Idealists put the least emphasis on financial benefits. When I search for one company, I want to know what kind of culture the company has and what is the value, it should have a high mission. If you dont agree with the mission, you will not do your best, not devote yourself to the company or the career. - Eddy, International Economy and Trade Major Not quite important to earn money. Some people earn a lot of money but they lose more, maybe they lose their friends. - Chandler, English Language Major

See friends Learning a language

Travel Daydream

Volunteer work Seminars

Want to heal the world

Idealists have high expectations for the world in which they live and being able to contribute to society is the primary career goal for these students. They are typically already engaged in extracurricular volunteer activities in school, which they find meaningful and fulfilling. We do some charity; donate money to the poor. I think its very meaningful. [] When I graduate, I will also enter some charity organization. - Paul, Architecture Major Idealists particularly want to contribute to Chinese society. One interviewee pointed out that his career objective is to change peoples ideas and reform policies and wanted to hold an influential government position to make this possible. Whereas other career profiles mainly focus on the well-being of themselves, their friends and families, Idealists prioritize the well-being of society. Contributing to society, thats success. I will try to do something for society, to give a better life to all people in society. [] If I can earn a lot of money, is that success? I dont think so. Its just one element in life. - Eddy, International Economy & Trade Major
Careerist Definition A successful of success career Hedonist Adventurist
An exciting life Being free

Eager to speak their minds

Equality, freedom of expression and responsiveness are central concepts for Idealists, and they want to work with people who have great ideas; work in a team where all members are devoted and want to change something. Starbucks Coffee Company understands this. To attract Idealists, Starbucks China has created a new communication strategy stressing that employees arent just choosing a job, but deliberately choosing a wonderful brand where the company is proud of every employee and where every employees voice is heard. In fact, Starbucks does not use the term employee, preferring to call coworkers partners to demonstrate the significance of each staff member; from barista to manager. Starbucks

Well-being of society

A peaceful life Family A big pay check happiness

Photo by kafka4prez on flickr

also provides opportunities for each employee to engage in volunteer activities in the local community during work hours; another feature that attracts Idealists. Idealists are eager to speak their minds, and they are not afraid of criticizing whatever they feel is wrong in their environment. Of the four types, these youth are the hardest to steer. I hope that I can express my opinion. Everyone can express their opinion very freely. We are free to say something. - Eddy, International Economy & Trade Major

Case IV: Alibaba Group reaches out to idealists by taking responsibility

Chinese Business-to-Business e-commerce group Alibaba aspires to provide a better life to its employees and their families. In September 2011, Alibaba Group declared it would launch a RMB 3 billion interest-free housing loan scheme, called iHome, for its employees. Those employees who served the group for at least two years and are planning to buy their first apartment can apply for these loans. Alibaba has also set up an education fund worth RMB 500 million, which will be used for the construction of education facilities and cooperation with related education organizations. Alibaba will cooperate with local schools in Hangzhou to help solve problems regarding preschool and primary education for the children of its employees. Alibaba will further give more than RMB 40 million in one-time subsidiaries to its junior employees due to Chinese commodity prices increases and rapid inflation.

Want to learn about CSR issues

Idealists typically want to launch their careers in international companies. Just like Careerists and Adventurists, Idealists have aspirations to work abroad, but not because they want an international career or to explore the world, but because they believe they can learn about CSR issues abroad. Yet, Idealists typically consider many big and international corporations too commercial to work for. The long-term goal of Idealists is to work in a domestic company or start a business of their own. I would prefer to stay in a domestic company; my idea is to change China, not American society. [] If I can, I will work in an international company to learn about their professional ideas and skills about journalism and then go to China to practice it. [] You love the country; you think it can be better, more democratic for people to live. - Amie, Journalism Major

Entrepreneurial type: The philanthropic entrepreneur

Just like Careerists and Hedonists, Idealists dream about starting their own business but with a different purpose; becoming philanthropic entrepreneurs is a chance for them to contribute to society in their own way. They can be free and have their own objectives and independent ideas. Just like Adventurists, Idealists highlight freedom. One student stressed that he wanted to start his own school as an attempt to change the school system in China.

I can hopefully have a school of my own. So thats why Im gonna be a teacher on my own. I think I can do a better job. - Jeremy, Information Management & Information Systems Major

Photo by kafka4prez on flickr

Communication Strategies to Attract Generation More;

The Careerist, the Hedonist, the Adventurist & the Idealist

Company spokesperson

Family and friends Teachers Weibo, Renren Recruitment websites Official websites

Friends Teachers Recruitment websites Official websites Weibo, Renren

TV & newspaper Teachers Friends Recruitment websites Official websites Weibo, Renren

Going online
One of the most common ways for all four profiles to get information about different employers is the internet. Chinese recruitment websites are one of the most common. The recruitment websites most mentioned in the interviews included: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. (the biggest and most popular one)

Source of information

Recruitment websites Official websites Weibo, Renren Teachers

The company homepage is a frequent source of information, as are Chinese social media sites: Sina Weibo, Renren and Douban. Using social media channels, students are able to locate current employees at specific companies to get insights from them.

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Catching up with the next generation of talent in China 21

The power of word-of-mouth

Students looking for information about employers frequently consult their friends; word-of-mouth is a very important source of information.
Advancement possibilities

companies and trying different jobs. Friends are a very big source of information for all the profiles but specifically for Hedonists.

The Adventurist
Adventurists are not as focused in their search efforts as for example Careerists, since their plans change constantly. They might come across an interesting initiative on the web or in a newspaper, which makes them turn to Baidu to search for more information. They are more likely to be triggered by what they consider to be opportunities compared to what they consider to be jobs, which means that they to a lesser extent than the other groups are scrutinizing job sites and companies' career sites.

Work-life balance Stability Harmony Friendly atmosphere Team work

Freedom and flexibility Fun and Diversified work International assignments

Work with CSR Possibility to contribute Freedom of speech/ responsiveness

Key message

Financial benefits Challenging environment

The Idealist The Careerist

Chinese university students generally start searching for company information when they are juniors (3rd year) and seniors (4th year) in the university. Amongst the four profiles, Careerists are the most active in searching for company information. They know the most about different companies, including multinational ones. Idealists get most information from the news; television and newspapers from both Chinese and international sources. These students are more likely than others to be sensitive to what is going on in society. They are skeptical and in need of objective information. I will read some foreign websites like New York Times, BBC and China Daily. I will search this way to know more about this world. - Eddy, International Economy and Trade Major

The Hedonist
Hedonists prefer to work for state owned enterprises and do not know much about different companies. Hedonists and Adventurists put the most emphasis on experience; they will learn about companies by entering different

China graduate opportunities

MSL Chinas seven tactics
The research has clear implications for companies communications strategy when targeting Generation More. Below, we outlined a few key findings: 1

Do not neglect the familys influence when it comes to making important decisions such as the first employer. It is not enough to convince the candidate, the parents need to support the choice as well, something which companies need to consider when creating their communications strategy. Dont sell educate. Both students and parents are making surprisingly uninformed choices when it comes to studies and future employment. Be the one who guides them. We recommend companies to start targeting students as early as the high school level, to outline the benefits of employment in your industry in an easy-to-understand way. This approach will lead to more informed choices at the university level, decreasing the risk of unmotivated and uninterested people, and you will compete for the attention of students (as well as their parents!) in a much less saturated market.

Develop a clear Employer Value Proposition (EVP), based on your most important recruit archetype. You cannot and should not treat Chinese university graduates as one collective entity. Accept that you cannot win them all; while at all times stay authentic and true to your brand, focus on the drivers of the group most suited to your company culture. Up the ante in providing individually tailored development plans and career paths. Generation More emphasizes the individual over the collective, and wants to know whats offered in terms of personal development and remuneration. Build your corporate reputation. Brand awareness in the target group will give you a larger selection of candidates and supportive parents, even if it is a shotgun approach, that in itself will not guarantee attracting the students who best fit your organization. PR, advertising and other communication efforts outside narrow trade media will impact students and their parents and strengthen the overall image and attractiveness of your company. Fame counts.

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Focus on middle management. While the quality of a companys managers is always important, for Generation More, we believe that we may see a huge clash between reality and expectations when they enter the workforce and start reporting to their first bosses. To bridge this gap, companies should: Enhance middle management capabilities: The old truth People dont leave companies, people leave bosses seems especially true for Generation More. Companies need to understand the importance of its managers, and ensure their training and management capabilities. Manage expectations; include elements in onboarding programs that outline the relationship and mutual expectations between recently graduated new recruits and their direct line manager.

Companies in China need to keep in mind that not even on their first day of on boarding, this group has a plan to stay on with the company for a long time. It is a good strategy to create strategic alumni programs to ensure keeping the relationship going, and leverage the fact that there will be a big pool of ex-employees in the market who might if the company plays its card right - be convinced to rejoin the company after they get more experience elsewhere.

If your company has exceptionally qualified leaders, we suggest leveraging this asset through communication. But before you boast too much about your organization, make sure you are aware of the already sky-high expectations for managers, and consider the consequences of not living up to these expectations.

MSL China regularly publishes Executive Whitepapers with insights and comments on trends, the industry and society as a whole. To get information from MSL China or to subscribe to future whitepapers, as well as to contact us for any other matter, please send us an e-mail on or call us +86 21 5169 9311 (SH) or +86 10 8573 0688 (BJ). MSL China Executive Whitepaper May 2012 Copyright MSL China