Chinese job hunters go online with 140-character micro-resumes

With more than 140 million Chinese people using Sina Weibo – the country’s most popular microblogging service given that Twitter is banned – the effects of 140-character bursts of information are changing processes and communication across the nation.

Weibos are know as a place for controversy, with politics and taboo subjects frequent discussion topics, but its popularity and explosive user-number growth – which is tipped to pass 200 million before the end of the year – have spilled into the jobs market, an area where, globally, social media is increasingly important for job seekers and employers alike.

Focusing on the global market as a whole, recruitment firm Kelly’s recently announced survey concluded that, on average, one in four job hunters across the world go online to find work although “many are growing nervous about the potential career fallout from personal content on social networking sites”.

Of course the stats are an average and therefore do not reflect more advanced markets but, according to the survey, just one percent of the 97,000 respondents polled made use of social media to secure a job although more than a quarter believed that social media could help them land a position in the future.

What then would they make of China where social media has gone a step further with Weibo-based “micro-resumes” a growing craze?

CNNGo has more details:

Recent university graduates as well as experienced professionals seeking jobs soon might not have much of a choice as China’s highly competitive job search goes online, and Sina weibo is increasingly being used as a personal advertising tool.

The trend has grown from an informal tagging system where people can post “微简历” (micro-resumé) and “微招聘” (micro-recruiting) pitching themselves to employers, to a more formalized approach with Sina weibo’s launch of its online recruiting service, “micro-recruiting” in late March.

“I am from the city of Qingdao and I am looking for a temporary job to help me get by. I will take my post-graduation examinations next year,” wrote a graduate student on, China’s most popular micro-blogging site.

One Xinhua article counted more than 17,000 micro-resumés posted on Sina weibo as of Friday, May 20, less than three months after the weibo system launched.

It is important to note that Chinese users, along with microbloggers in Japan, benefit from the brevity of their respective alphabets which allow them to say and express more in 140 characters than English and other Romanic alphabet-based languages do. Weibo also includes tags and location/address details which can benefit those posting micro-resumes.

The establishment of dedicated job focused services, such as this one from Sina, have clearer helped provide a dedicated space for micro-resumes and employers seeking to fill vacancies.

That aside, China’s microblogs represent a change of direction in online job hunting.

While social media are an increasingly important (and effective) in connecting job seekers with employers’ vacancies, the onus is almost always on the employer to make the job ‘findable’ to its target audience on online/social networks. The Chinese example turns this on its head and puts the onus on the candidate to market themselves to be ‘discovered’ by employers – although equally the reverse, western-style employer-centric model is in operation too.

It’s an intriguing concept when you consider how the micro-resumes are stored together and can  be listed based on popularity (numbers of retweets), key words etc. as the image below from CNN demonstrates.