Old Version

Hire Power

Job recruitment livestreams are boosting employment by instantly connecting companies with the nationwide talent pool. But as fraudsters lure unsuspecting blue-collar job seekers with false listings, experts are calling for greater regulation

By Xu Ming , Ya Ni Updated May.1

Job recruiters livestream available jobs in a human resources service industrial park, Dongguan, Guangdong Province, June 29, 2023 (Photo by VCG)

Search the keyword “hiring” in popular short-video platform Kuaishou (also known as Kwai) and thousands of job recruiters livestreaming from across China pop up.  

From assembly line work and heavy machinery operation to maintenance and bus driving, these recruiters advertise blue-collar positions on the platform alongside vendors selling clothing and electronics.  

Since the pandemic years, livestreaming has been a major channel for companies and employment agencies to find workers. Recruiters are able to show what the jobs entail, the work conditions and staff accommodation. Most importantly, unlike traditional online recruitment, livestreams allow recruiters to field and answer questions in real time.  

A report from the Beijing-based Capital University of Economics and Business (CUEB) in December 2022 revealed that 67.6 percent of blue-collar positions are still filled by word-of-mouth referrals. However, 17.7 percent of job seekers found positions through short-video and livestreaming platforms, with this figure showing a steady increase. Conversely, the proportion of company-direct recruitment and employment agencies has dwindled, the report said.  

Online Opportunities 
In early 2022, Yang Mingqi, a student majoring in food safety at a vocational college in Shandong Province, faced a challenging job market – 70 percent of her graduating class could not find a job. With offline interviews hampered by Covid-induced travel restrictions, she turned to livestreaming apps.  

While watching a Kuaishou livestream, she discovered a job opportunity at Goertek, an acoustic components company headquartered in Weifang, Shandong Province, that promised a competitive salary and satisfactory working conditions. She clicked the link and sent in her resume. Soon after, the company called her. After negotiating her salary and other job details, she interviewed and landed the job. She later referred several classmates to the company.  

Similarly with the aid of Kuaishou, Che Jianping and his wife from Gansu Province, both in their 40s, found employment at an electronics factory in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province. The couple, who previously ran a noodle restaurant, transitioned to factory work with the help of Liu Chao, an employment agent livestreaming on Kuaishou, according to a Caijing report.  

Though initially wary of employment agents, Che said he developed a trust for Liu after watching his livestream daily. For many migrant workers like Che who had never left their home provinces, this trust was crucial to them making the leap to a factory job in a faraway city.  

Livestreaming platforms have significantly reduced the time and effort that job hunts normally take, reducing the process from several months to days.  

According to Zhang Chenggang, director of the new employment research center at CUEB, compared to traditional hiring models, livestreaming makes the hiring process more transparent. By providing more in-depth information about posts and job markets, the likelihood of successful job matches is higher, Zhang said.  

In late 2021, Kuaishou launched its new employment platform Kuaipin (also known as Kwai Hire). Targeting the blue-collar job market, which generally sees the highest turnover rates, the platform provides more extensive and accurate portrayals of the offered positions, something that many job seekers say traditional hiring channels fail to provide.  

The platform quickly attracted employers, including major manufacturers in Apple’s supply chain, like component manufacturers Luxshare-ICT and Goertek, and automaker BYD.  

Livestream recruiting is especially cost-effective for factories, which experience extremely high turnover rates and need new hires every few days. For example, Luxshare-ICT has 200,000 positions but hires 500,000 workers every year.  

In 2022, Kuaipin hosted more than five million livestreams, saw 250 million monthly active users and partnered with 240,000 companies. On January 28, Kuaipin processed over 500,000 resumes.  

Douyin, China’s TikTok, has also enhanced its efforts in this arena, promoting livestreaming recruitment not only among enterprises but also local governments. Numerous county- and city-level human resources bureaus have registered with the platform.  

Recruitment websites are also getting on board. In February, online marketplace 58.com added a livestreaming component to its annual Spring Festival hiring event. The featured livestreams were also run by leading companies and brands offering positions from couriers to shop clerks. 

This method has helped streamline the recruitment process for companies, particularly in blue-collar jobs. Leveraging the big data, real-time interactions and visual advantages that livestreaming provides, labor-intensive enterprises can directly reach a vast pool of potential employees, expand their recruitment base and significantly reduce costs. This strategy also helps to more efficiently address labor shortages during periods of heightened demand.  

For example, the weeks after Spring Festival, which generally span from late January into February, are typically peak season for blue-collar jobs. This year, Kuaishou held a “Spring Festival Job Fair” event through February, where over 40 companies and organizations livestreamed recruitment sessions.  

Blue-collar workers, who represent over 50 percent of China’s total workforce of 700 million, are the primary users of these recruitment platforms. But as livestreaming recruitment evolves, its reach is expanding to other groups such as college students like Yang Mingqi and her classmates, as well as high-level professionals.  

Wider Pool 
Dong Keqi is a human resources bureau employee in Jilin Province’s Qianguo County, where he works with villages to help companies connect with local workers. In 2019, he learned of a local company that was livestreaming to connect with job seekers.  

Impressed by the one-on-one introductions and real-time interactions that livestreaming provide, Dong began pitching job opportunities on Kuaishou in 2021. He now has 90,000 followers and has conducted 18,820 livestreams for 158 companies.  

More local governments have since turned to livestreaming to boost employment within their jurisdictions.  

In electronics manufacturing hub Kunshan, human resource authorities have been working with local enterprises on livestreams since 2022. Manufacturers such as Luxshare-ICT have opened accounts on platforms like Kuaipin, Douyin and WeChat, where they partner with employment agencies for recruitment events.  

Between January and October 2022, Jiangsu ranked first in the number of job opportunities posted on Kuaipin. In 2022, livestreaming was the primary channel for recruitment in Kunshan, which boasts tens of thousands of manufacturers of all sizes, according to the CUEB report.  

Over the last two years, many county-and city-level human resource officials have livestreamed local job opportunities on Douyin and Kuaishou regularly, often broadcasting from enterprises and schools.  

In the lead up to this year’s Spring Festival, which began on February 9, numerous local governments livestreamed recruitment sessions on Douyin to address their labor shortages as millions of China’s migrant workers returned home for the extended annual holiday.  

On January 25, He Keke held his first livestream of the year, which attracted 28,000 viewers. As director of the human resources and social security bureau of Anshan, Liaoning Province, He introduced the city’s supportive policies for college graduates to work and start businesses. Those interested could apply directly through the platform.  

This was just one of a series of Anshan’s livestreaming recruitment activities targeting various groups, such as college students, migrant workers and skilled professionals.  

In a similar attempt to boost Spring Festival employment, Jiangbei District in the city of Ningbo, Zhejiang Province held a variety of offline and livestream job fairs. In February alone, the district hosted 21 employment events offering more than 20,900 job opportunities.  

On February 21, Longgang District in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province launched its first job fair, where 61 regional manufacturers in dozens of fields such as electronics, the digital economy, smart manufacturing and new energy offered around 6,000 jobs. The event was also livestreamed, which attracted over 20,000 viewers and helped to fill 2,000 positions.  

In late 2023, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security released a notice encouraging public employment services to engage in livestream recruitment, promote the creation of livestreaming facilities and expand online recruitment services.  

Zhang Chenggang said that livestream recruiting has a greater reach because it fits people’s online consumption habits, and that the ministry’s notice will encourage local governments to further utilize this channel.  

However, fake listings and exaggerated job descriptions have already become an issue. Some job seekers have reported that livestreamers post fake jobs to attract viewers or bait and switch for less desirable positions. There are also private employment agencies that pose as manufacturers looking for direct hires, only to charge job seekers with processing fees before disappearing online.  

In response, Douyin and Kuaishou have tightened authentication procedures for companies using their platforms, requiring proof of licenses to register.  

In June 2023, China’s human resources ministry began drawing up standards for livestream recruiting with the China National Institute of Standardization, livestreaming platforms and employment experts. However, more efforts in market regulation and supervision are needed to safeguard the interests of job seekers and maintain their trust.  

In an interview with newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily in January, Zhang Chenggang said that livestream recruitment could expand its offerings, such as having qualified personnel provide guidance and career counseling. “That’s the greatest potential of livestreaming recruitment we can imagine. It would be an all-round win. High-quality development of the industry is good for both hiring companies and job seekers,” Zhang said.