How Do Chinese Tech Companies Big As BAT Attract College Graduates?

摘要: For internet companies, annual campus recruitment campaign is more like a smokeless war. Sincerity and skills are as effective in recruiting talents as in business competition. However, different internet companies have different styles and genes, thus their recruitment styles also look quite different.

(Chinese Version)

It has been a while since the annual campus recruitment campaign wave started. For sure, internet industry will become one of the most popular choices for college graduates, as did last year. According to the Employment Report of 2016 Graduates from, nearly 30 per cent of graduates chose to work in the internet industry last year. Internet industry is also known to have the highest average monthly salary. As the momentum is still gathering for internet plus, hunger for talents will only become even stronger.

Up till now, nobody dares to ignore the importance of talents to any company, let alone internet companies whose external environment undergoes tremendous change every day. Different from the relationship between capital and capital distribution in the industrial age, the relationship between people and companies in this age is undergoing swift change.

“Companies that are most valuable and skillful in creating values all adopt the light asset model. Today, a company’s value lies in the talents it owns. As Bill Gates once said, even if Microsoft’s buildings and tangible asset were taken away or destroyed, it can still rise in a short time as long as it still owns all its talents,” Wu Jun wrote in his book.

This is also why many media reports would pay a fare share of attention to the recruitment strategy when describing how respectful a company is.

“They spent most of their resources in recruiting instead of training because the most talented applicant is worrth over 300 normal applicants,” Google’s CTO wrote in his book “Redefining Team”.

This is especially true for young talents. Everybody knows that new and creative ideas of young people are also part of the asset of an internet company. Although young employees might not be experienced enough, it is easier to train them and gain their loyalty if we see this problem from another perspective.

For sure, talents are rare to find in any group of people. For internet companies, annual campus recruitment campaign is more like a smokeless war. Sincerity and skills are as effective in recruiting talents as in business competition. However, different internet companies have different styles and genes, thus their recruitment styles also look quite different.

In this article, I’d like to help you have a glimpse of the matter.

Zhejiang Hangzhou NetEase is Recruiting

NetEase's adapted version of the song "Zhejiang Wenzhou Jiangnan Leather Company Has Gone Bankrupt"

Appealing to applicants’ emotions or mimicking their ways of entertainment

Presentation is an indispensable platform for companies to introduce themselves to graduates-to-be. After a long period of time, many companies have already figured out an effective way to deliver a presentation. “Regardless of the company at the front of the room, all of the presentations tend to follow a similar structure. Most begin with some version of a ‘founding story’ that lays out the company’s humble beginnings, taking the audience back to when it was just a few people on a mission to solve one simple problem. Next, they typically launch into a “growth history” explaining the company’s expansion,” "Atlantic Monthly" magazine writer Luis Qiesi Luo (Louis Cheslaw) wrote in an article.

This rule also applies to Chinese tech giants. For example, Huawei chose “A Brave New World” as its slogan in this year’s campus recruitment campaign. As a highly-respected company, Huawei attracts graduates mainly by appealing to their emotions and stirring up their passion for success and dreams both in its recruitment films and presentation. Huawei’s rise from a follower in the industry to a leader in the ICT industry must appeal to many graduates in the audience.

Tech company’s founders can also attract graduates through their own stories and advices to young people. In a widely-circulated articled titled “Five Qualities I See in the Young Talents I Encountered”, Zhang Yiming, founder of TouTiao, shared his understandings about young people’s qualities and indirectly revealed his expectation for TouTiao’s future candidates.

Besides appealing to young people’s emotions, tech companies who are familiar with young people’s communication and entertainment habit, will also attract them by doing things only young people would love. For example, NetEase adapted a super popular song on the internet titled Zhejiang Wenzhou Jiangnan Leather Company Has Gone Bankrupt, in which the employees in the company accused the boss of not paying them money and ran off with all the money, so they decided to sell all the leather wallets at 20 yuan (around $2.9), adopted the same melody but changed the lyrics. The adapted song (Zhejiang Hangzhou NetEase is Recruiting) was so funny that it went viral on the internet. When most tech companies appeal to graduates’ emotions, NetEase attracted huge attention by a completely different way.

Didi also knows well how to attract graduates’ attention using NetEase’s strategy. This year, Didi set the slogan of its campus recruitment campaign as “Defining the Next Future” and also made a pretty hilarious video, but integrate its values and expectations for candidates into the lyrics, which was also well-received among young people. “During this year’s campus recruitment campaign, ‘unicorns’ such as Meituan Dianping and Didi are pretty welcome by graduates, ”Ma Delong, CEO of, pointed out.

In a word, appealing to young people’s emptions and mimicking their ways of entertainment are two very effective ways to attract young graduates.

Poster for Baidu

Poster for Baidu's campus recruitment campaign

Baidu attaches high importance to technology and value

Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (hereafter referred to as BAT) are certainly three of the most appealing tech companies for graduates. However, many media reports will focus much attention on high salary in these companies, and ignore the fact that their campus recruitment campaign could also be interesting and informative.

Comparatively speaking, Baidu’s campus recruitment strategy is the most targeted and dynamic one. On the one hand, Baidu continues to strengthen the technology-driven pragmatic style this year. While other tech companies focus more attention on appealing to young graduates’ emotions, Baidu stresses its technological strength and gives detailed demonstration to its artificial intelligence, speech synthesis, natural language processing, unmanned driving and other cutting-edge technologies during its presentation in colleges and universities across China. For sure, cutting-edge technology as well as effort in talent nurturing make Baidu quite appealing to lots of young talents.

In addition, Baidu focuses much attention on its corporate culture this year. This can be told from its campus recruitment slogan: Be yourself at Baidu, which clearly fits the post-90 generation’s need to express their individuality. During its campus recruitment campaign, Baidu attaches high attention to satisfying the needs of its target candidates. For example, its presentation is conducted from the aspect of graduates. Besides, Baidu encourages its employees to communicate with candidates from the university they graduated from via WeChat and Weibo. Moreover, Baidu carries out some pretty interesting and practical ways of interaction, such as “live streaming interview”. At peak time, over 200,000 fans watched the live streaming interview at the same time. These live streaming interviews not only help graduates better understand the interview procedure and Baidu’s corporate culture, but also convey to the public how open and inclusive Baidu could be in terms of its talent recruitment.

In addition, Baidu adds “Cultural Value Test” to its written test as well as interview, so that applicants could better understand themselves and see if they like or are fit for Baidu though life-like scenarios and open-ended questions. After the test, every applicant will receive a brochure, which tells the secret of Baidu’s cultural values through cartoons, completely transform the conventional approach and appeals to the inner selves of its applicants. As a matter of fact, Baidu’s corporate culture, summarized as “simple, but reliable” do ring a cord among many college graduates. It is obvious that Baidu not only wins the affection of young applicants by a two-way picking approach that seeks common ground while reserving differences, but also lowers the cost of trial and error by putting its corporate culture in the first place in its recruitment procedure.

Poster for Baidu

Poster for Alibaba's campus recruitment campaign

Alibaba is very practical about recruiting talents

What about Alibaba, then?

Personally, I believe Alibaba is the most practical one among BAT in this year’s campus recruitment campaign. Since last year, Alibaba has changed its talent strategy and would only pick the fish out of the best in its campus recruitment campaign. Thus, you shall often see “Application Strategy for Alibaba” on the internet as if applying for Alibaba is like advancing in a game.

As early as July, Alibaba already launched its autumn-round campus recruitment campaign. With “Extraordinary people doing extraordinary things” as its positioning, Alibaba continues to adopt the “picking the fish out of the best” strategy this year. It is well known that Alibaba’s written test is really difficult and many people would discuss the test on Zhihu, the largest online question and answer platform in China. According to head of Alibaba’s campus recruitment campaign, this year’s written test will be even more difficult than last year’s. Moreover, face recognition technology will be used to avoid cheating in the exam. In a word, Alibaba is very practical and particular about picking its future employees.

Poster for Tencent

Poster for Tencent's campus recruitment campaign

Tencent treats the matter like developing a product

At last, I shall briefly introduce to you the campus recruitment campaign of Tencent.

Compared to Baidu and Alibaba’s campus recruitment strategy, Tencent’s strategy can be summarized as “recruiting as if developing a product”. “When recruiting talents, we conduct the same way of thinking product as we are developing a product,” Ma Yi, head of Tencent’s recruitment campaign this year, once said.

For example, Tencent created WeChat Groups in all its thirty target universities. Tecent even has a complete “product” management team to thoroughly know what college graduates are thinking about, give feedback in time and adjust its strategy accordingly. “We even had a special APP called ‘YouLiao’. People in the company and out of the company can communicate with each other through this APP. All the applicants for Tencent must download the APP, ask questions and Tencent’s employees will answer part of them. Although it might cost us a lot, the APP makes out work a lot more effective,” Ma Yi added.

Tencent also adopts the way of thinking when developing a product in its content producing process. As a matter of fact, Tencent possibly has the closest relationship with entertainment among BAT. So Tencent also adopts its entertainment spirit when recruiting talents. On August, 23rd, Tencent’s online presentation program “Penguin Symposium” was re-produced and started broadcasting again. The program was first created in 2014. A representative from Tencent will be invited to share their understandings about choosing a career and growing up in each program. The program is primarily about topics college graduates are often concerned about such as career development, corporate bonus, preparing for interviews and life choices, etc.

We can say for sure that Tencent will help its applicants have a clearer idea about Tencent’s features by adopting the way of thinking typical in developing a product.

Just be the best of oneself?

Whether it’s BAT or other tech companies, their recruitment efforts all prove one thing: they are all desperate to find young talents who can facilitate their own development. According to the Employment Report of 2016 Graduates from, the goal of nearly 62.6 per cent of graduates to work is earn money, but at the same time, 71 per cent of the respondents also said that they would love to start their own business through working. That is to say, the goals of young people to work are becoming more and more varied.

Newbies are all desperate to improve themselves through work, but many of them don’t know how to choose between joining a small and mid-sized company and elevate themselves more rapidly or joining a tech giant and having a higher sense of worth for themselves. However, they could actually get both sometimes.

“It feels like a college campus, and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to feel. The source of Google’s success has been the quality of the engineers it hires out of top colleges. Rather than make them feel as if they’ve just joined the marines-as other corporations might-Google wants to keep them feeling that they’ve never left school so that they stay creatively wide-eyed,” as is written in the book “Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution”.

As a matter of fact, the true secret of the Silicon Valley lies in talents. As Reid Hoffman wrote in his latest book, The Alliance, that: “We’ve said farewell to the age of lifelong employment for a long time. The business world needs a new employment framework that facilitates mutual trust, mutual investment, and mutual benefit.” In other words, the relationship between companies and employees is gradually evolving from “employment” to “resonance”. At that time, the only responsibility of any worker, especially green college graduates, is just be the best of oneself, and nothing else.


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[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Li Beicheng please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]

Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.




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