Recruitment has yet to pick up in China, at least according to 51Job. The recruitment company posted its year-end financials Thursday, which showed declines in revenue, net income and client numbers.

Net revenues for 2020 were down 7.8% year-on-year to RMB 3.7 billion ($565.4 million U.S.). Online recruitment services were hit the worst — revenue for that segment declined 13.1% year-on-year to RMB 2.2 billion. As expected, the company attributed the losses to “the disruptive global, social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on companies in China.”

Indeed, by the fourth quarter of 2020, revenues had picked up slightly, rising 2.4% year-on-year to RMB 1.2 billion. The company’s human resources programming was up 17.1% year-on-year, as on-campus events spurred new hiring. But online recruitment was down substantially — 10.1% — from the same period a year earlier.

Taken together, 51Job’s results paint a picture of a recruitment industry in transition. Unlike much of Europe and the U.S., life in China has largely returned to normal. Restaurants and stores have been open for months and the economy has improved markedly. But it seems that employers are still exercising a degree of caution when it comes to hiring.

Still, 51Job is optimistic in its outlook for 2021. The company expects to see continued improvement throughout 2021 and is looking to increase its ad spend to attract new customers.

“The 2021 post-Chinese New Year peak recruitment season has progressed without interruption thus far, and early indicators on market demand and activity have been positive,” the company wrote in a news release.

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