LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional social networking platform, recently announced that it to cease the localized version of its services in China, which remains the world’s largest workforce. In its place, the company plans to launch InJobs, a new job search app designed for the Chinese market – but without the platform’s signature social feed – which is expected to begin operations before the end of 2021.
The move marks a drastic setback for Microsoft-owned LinkedIn’s seven-year experience in the country, in which it garnered an impressive 54 million users, making it one of the most major business markets in the world.
In a blog post On October 14, LinkedIn Senior Vice President of Engineering, Mohak Schroff, explained the reasons for the move, including that the platform has been “faced with a much more difficult operating environment and stricter compliance requirements in China ”. The commentary recalls the experience of other large international web content companies, such as Google and Facebook, who have sought to bring their services to the country for years, to no avail.
But Schroff also hinted at some potential shortcomings in LinkedIn’s own approach to China’s unique business environment, writing: Aspects of Sharing and Information.
As the sun sets over the company’s full operations in the country, a window of opportunity now opens for domestic competitors. LinkedIn’s watered-down future service InJobs will still have to contend with a diverse ecosystem of professional online networking platforms, most of which originate from and are specifically geared towards the Chinese market.
Networking in Chinese cyberspace
“It is inefficient to search for vacancies [on LinkedIn] when you can find more in local apps, ”said Chiyu Ma, an official from northwest Lanzhou City. In Ma’s experience, national platforms work better.
Maimai (脉脉 Màimài) founded in 2013, is one of the most successful examples. Three years ago, the company became the premier unicorn startup in the online professional networking industry with the completion of a $ 200 million Series D funding round.
User anonymity is one of the main characteristics of Maimai, which allows employees to comment on their business online without having to worry about the possible repercussions on their careers, like the US website Glassdoor.
Company founder Li Fan takes issue with those who compare Maimai to its international competitor LinkedIn. “We never said we were China’s LinkedIn,” Li once said in a maintenance. “We see ourselves as a version of WeChat for work.”
This more direct and intimate approach to professional networking in the online space, compared to LinkedIn’s lofty ambition to provide a global forum for dialogue, has served the Maimai platform well.
For Chinese workers looking for immediate employment, platforms offering direct staff hiring channels are the most attractive. When asked if she thinks LinkedIn is useful for Chinese workers, Jia, a psychotherapist based in Shanghai, was quick to say, “Certainly not. She explained that for people working in less conventional professions, home applications simply have a lot more to offer.
Several Chinese recruitment platforms have succeeded in filling the various gaps in the country’s labor market, covering a much wider range of industries and salary levels. “Can you imagine a babysitter looking for employers on LinkedIn? Their only choice is 58.comSaid Ma, the official.
58.com Beijing-based Inc. is China’s premier digital classifieds network, allowing local businesses to connect with potential workers through its website or mobile app. The company removed from the NYSE in June 2020 after it struck a $ 8.7 billion acquisition deal with a consortium of investors, privatizing the company.
Boss Zhipin (BOSS 直 聘 Zhípìn), a popular mobile app operated by parent company Kanzhun Ltd. The platform reached nearly 25 million monthly active users earlier this year, showing growth from the previous year. Kanzhun, which received financial support from national internet giant Tencent, raised $ 912 million during an initial public offering in the United States in June 2021, among the largest of the year.
Continue the conversation
Where platforms like Maimai or 58.com may not be able to cover LinkedIn footsteps, however, is to provide a forum for users to share content and participate in global public discussions, in a professional or career-oriented environment.
Ma believes that LinkedIn’s unique combination of functions in a single online platform has not resonated in the country, stating: “The arrogance of those in the power of the company is quite blatant – they thought they actually knew their clients in China – which they never knew is, there’s no point in mixing up social and online job searching.
For those looking for a digital discussion space similar to the one offered by LinkedIn, some alternatives already exist. An app called Jike (即刻 Jíkè – ‘immediately), provides users with updates on topics of interest to them, also allowing interaction with others on the platform – it has been describe like “a combination of RSS, Google Alerts and Reddit”. The quality of conversation on Jike is generally considered to be superior to other traditional online chat platforms in the country, such as Sina Weibo. These platforms could benefit from LinkedIn’s restructuring in the Chinese market, as its former users migrate elsewhere to continue the conversation.
The number of people employed in China stood at around 750 million in 2020, according to Statistical. As demographic trends continue to shrink the size of China’s working-age population, authorities have unveiled plans to create more jobs, including 55 million in urban areas by the end of the government’s 14th five-year plan in 2025.
If successful, this job growth will provide Chinese professional networking platforms with a constant flow of employers to connect with quality candidates in a tougher and more competitive job market. While LinkedIn’s retirement marks the closure of another digital bridge between Chinese internet users and the outside world, the country’s business community may not miss it for long.