Most of the largest international job platforms are not widely used in China. Popular HR platforms like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster, and even LinkedIn have very small or no presence in the Middle Kingdom at all.
In this article, we’ll go over 10 of the most popular Chinese platforms when it comes to HR functions like job search, recruiting, and networking.
The Big Home-Grown Job & Networking Platforms in China...
First, let’s divide LinkedIn’s uses into two types of platforms:
A) Employment & career-focused platforms, and
B) Professional networking & social media platforms.
a) Employment & Career Focused Apps
These are apps that have a primary focus on job placement and career services. Think LinkedIn Jobs, Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, The Ladders, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter.
There are A LOT of job platform competitors in China. Here are some of the most dominant players that a majority of former LinkedIn users will likely move to (or have moved to!).
These companies have a lot that overlap with each other, but a whole lot more that don’t. For that reason, we’ll be listing them out simply by year founded, oldest to newest.
1. Zhilian Zhaopin (智联招聘)
Founded in 1997, Zhilian Zhaopin (智联招聘) is the oldest and arguably the biggest player of the job platforms in China. As of 2020, the company had over 200 million users and over 120 million monthly active users.
The scope covers every type of job – think of this as the Indeed/Monster of China. A company that not only survived the Internet 1.0 era, but has continued to grow, thrive, and adapt to the times successfully for 25+ years. Zhilian Zhaopin is thriving and an easy choice for many professional job seekers and employers alike.
2. 51job (前程无忧)
Founded in 1998, 51job (前程无忧) started in Beijing not long after Zhaopin did in Shanghai. As of 2021, the company had over 155 million users and ’51job’ is ubiquitous in the job search conversation.
If Zhilian Zhaopin is Indeed, then 51job is Monster (or vice versa). The scope of this platform also covers every type of job and is certainly going to continue to pick up more user activity in China.
3. 58 Tongcheng (58同城), & 4. Ganji (赶集网)
Both founded in 2005, 58 Tongcheng (58同城) & Ganji (赶集网) started out as classifieds websites, not unlike Craigslist in the US. In 2015, the companies merged and formed parent company 58 Ganji Co., Ltd.
Unlike the trajectory of Craiglist, however, both of these companies have continued to offer new types of services and have held their spots as leading providers until this day. Standard classifieds, a full-functioning job/employment platform, managed services in sectors like maintenance/repairs/housekeeping, and targeted second-hand platforms are just some of the things the entity provides under many different brand names.
Since a huge amount of China’s city dwellers have already used a 58/Ganji service in the past, there is little friction when it comes to trying out the massive jobs platform on offer here.
5. Liepin (猎聘)
Founded in 2011, Liepin (猎聘) has been able to position itself successfully as a platform for high-end talent. A comparison could be made to The Ladders out of the US, a service that focuses on jobs starting at a certain salary threshold.
Liepin has over 83.5 million users as of 2022 and has seen phenomenal growth in recent years. Many of the highly experienced & qualified former job seekers on LinkedIn China, as well as companies looking to hire them, will surely be looking to find value from Liepin (猎聘) in LinkedIn China’s wake.
6. Maimai (脉脉)
Maimai has been bluntly referred to as the LinkedIn of China. Since launching in 2013, Maimai has grown to over 110 million users (over twice that of the former LinkedIn China) and found a way to blend both professional networking and career services into one platform.
As of 2023, its user figures are lower than many of the other companies on this list, but growing at a brisk rate. Now that LinkedIn has left China (as of 8/2023), Maimai (脉脉) is poised to continue its strong growth.
7. BOSS Zhipin (BOSS直聘)
Founded in 2014, BOSS Zhipin (BOSS直聘) has grown very fast to become one of the (or perhaps the) biggest HR platforms in China. In 2021, the platform passed 200 million users and is showing no signs of slowing down.
While not a social media site, BOSS Zhipin has built its core features around connecting job seekers and employers as directly and transparently as possible. This goal of direct messaging and connections has some overlap with LinkedIn, and combined with everything else BOSS Zhipin has to offer it is easy to see why it has become so widely used across China.
B. Professional Networking & Social Media Apps
These are apps that have a primary focus on social media — networking, messaging/contacting, and content consumption. Think LinkedIn, Elon’s vision for X, Facebook, Instagram, and a pinch of Tiktok.
8. Wechat (微信)
Wechat is the Everything app. While many users primarily use it for social contact and social media purposes, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone over 22 in China that doesn’t use it for work and professional networking purposes as well.
The Wechat ID (via QR code) is the first thing exchanged between two people in all major business hubs throughout China. In most cases, nobody asks for anything but WeChat at professional networking events, with email or phone coming in at a distant second.
9. Wecom (企业微信)
WeCom, formerly WeChat Work, gets a mention here because it integrates well with WeChat. It is Slack connected seamlessly with the Everything app. If colleagues formerly connected socially online via LinkedIn, this may become a place for more internal work groups and connection opportunities.
10. Weibo (微博)
Anything compared to WeChat in terms of messaging/networking/connecting is tough. Weibo, formerly compared to Twitter years ago, is the most mature, by-the-book news and professional topic-based social media platform in China. They are the successful version of Yahoo!. Weibo is still going strong and is where many professionals go to see and discuss relevant, topical, and business-related content.
MaiMai 脉脉 (again!)
Bonus! Maimai (脉脉) gets listed in this category in addition to the previous one (Employment & Career Focused Apps), just as LinkedIn would be. Since launching in 2013, Maimai has grown to over 110 million users and found a way to blend both professional networking and career services into one platform.
Hiring in China?
We can help, and stay within your budget!
Hiring in China? We can help, and stay within your budget! Our China Recruiter Pro service helps companies utilize leading Chinese platforms just like Zhaopin, 51job, BOSS Zhipin, Maimai, 58, Ganji, and Liepin. Contact Us to discuss hiring goals, salary & compensation budgets in China, and if TeamedUp China is the right fit to support your organization.
Let’s find your next great China-based team member today.