As other web-based players gear up for the “internet plus” era, China’s leading online recruiter Zhaopin.com is expanding its web hiring services to a full-scale career platform. “Our story as a mere online recruitment operator is over,” Zhaopin chief executive Guo Sheng said. “We have moved forward as a career platform to cover a wider range of career-focused services,” Zhaopin, which was set up in 1994 as a human resources firm, is one of China’s first online recruiters. The idea of revamping the company into a comprehensive career platform to cover employers’ and jobseekers’ increasingly complex requirements popped up in June last year when Zhaopin sought to list its shares on the New York stock exchange. “We hope to become China’s dream workshop of talents,” Guo said. As a full-scale career platform, on top of its core recruitment services, Zhaopin also provides assessments of jobseekers, training courses and other human-resources-related services. We feel very rewarded because we were the first to do it GUO SHENG The company, which boasts 100 million registered users, has developed services and products for university graduates, white collar workers and senior executives. It has launched Xiao Hua, an online loan service targeted at university graduates, and Highpin.cn, a high-end career portal. Online businesses contributed 83 per cent of Zhaopin’s revenue in the fiscal year ended in June, but Guo expects this to fall to 60 to 70 per cent given growth in the company’s offline services and other business areas. Zhaopin’s revamp has been encouraging, Guo said, especially after rival internet-based recruitment sites began copying the company’s business model. China’s “internet plus” strategy, which Premier Li Keqiang pushed in his government work report in March to encourage online start-ups to apply new technology in traditional sectors, appears to have increased competition in the country’s recruitment business. Chinese e-marketplace 58.com acquired recruitment site ChinaHR.com in May, while technology industry recruiter Lagou.com recently announced plans to launch a career platform. Other emerging recruitment sites include Dajie.com, Ganji.com and Liepin.com. “I think ‘technology plus’ would be a more appropriate term [than ‘internet plus], as new technology can introduce big changes to industries,” said Guo of the Chinese leadership’s initiative to promote innovation. “I don’t really care what our competitors do as we have our own positioning. I’m happy to have more players in the industry as I can learn from them.” A sustainable business model, however, was crucial for an industry player to survive the competition, Guo said. “The recruitment business is not a project that lasts for just three to five years,” he said. Although growth may appear to be plateauing amid a slowing national economy, the mainland job market remained strong, Guo said. The services, finance, internet and high-tech manufacturing sectors were seeing strong growth in labour demand, while the government’s initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship had also boosted demand from small enterprises, he said. “The competition in the recruitment business is actually not very fierce,” Guo said. “But the growth in the job market will slow down sooner or later, so some smaller players will eventually be squeezed out.” Zhaopin is also in talks with several firms on acquisitions as part of the company’s expansion plan. “We are looking for companies that share similar businesses with us, as well as some technology companies,” Guo said. Zhaopin’s revenue for the fiscal year ended in June rose 19.5 per cent to 1.3 billion yuan (HK$1.57 billion), and profit increased 35.3 per cent to 253 million yuan boosted by growth in its online recruitment business. Guo said he was grateful that the idea of a career platform – a new concept when Zhaopin went public in New York – has proved to be a move in the right direction. “We feel very rewarded because we were the first to do it,” he said.