Yahoo staff in hot demand in wake of China pullout

Yahoo staff in hot demand in wake of China pullout

Yahoo Inc's announcement last week that it was shutting up shop in the Chinese mainland has seen a rush by Internet companies across the country to attract its staff.

As China's booming Internet industry continues to gain momentum, companies are competing fiercely for the best talent.

The coffee house below Yahoo's Beijing office was overwhelmed with human resources staff on Monday.

"We have been in contact with a dozen Yahoo employees since last week," said Pony Liu, director of VIP.com, an online retailing platform dedicated to selling discounted brand products, adding it had around five vacancies.

"We are looking for young engineers who are interested in e-commerce, but the fight is so intense."

The scramble for Yahoo's more than 200 engineers started shortly after the United States Internet giant announced on Wednesday it was to close its Beijing research and development centre.

Even industry heavyweights such as Baidu Inc and JD.com Inc are believed to be finding it hard to hire enough staff, according to recruitment specialists.

"The burgeoning Internet sector has resulted in a considerable shortage of talent, especially in cutting-edge technologies such as cloud computing and mobile technologies," said Rio Goh, China country head of employment adviser group Morgan McKinley.

Salaries in the talent-starved sector are rising as a result. A recent report by Morgan McKinley shows that software engineers can expect to earn 15,000 yuan ($2,410) to 25,000 yuan a month.

But to lure exceptional individuals, cash-rich Chinese enterprises are willing to offer a lot more, maybe as much as 50 per cent, to the best candidates.

At another cafe near the soon-to-close research centre, one HR representative from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd had a target list of Yahoo employees.

He said his company is willing to take on any Yahoo engineers equipped with the right skills. "We place no limit on the number," he said.

And it is not just Chinese companies reported to be on the look out for the best prospects, said recruitment experts. Multinationals too are struggling to hold on to their own.

In September, Zhang Yaqin, a long-time Microsoft Corp research executive and president of Microsoft Research Asia, for instance, joined Baidu as its president, overseeing research.

In fact, said Rio Goh, it is the main Chinese players who are now emerging as the most likely to attract ambitious young IT professionals with the best ideas.

"It's Chinese Internet startups that are attracting the most talent."

Thomas Zhang, a R&D engineer who has worked at Yahoo for five years, said he is now more inclined to work for a medium-sized Chinese enterprise, as he is likely to be given a more senior position.

"I have already had seven offers. Three of them offered to take on the whole team, and the four others were willing to promote me to project manager," Zhang said, who fully expected more offers to come his way.

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