Six Sports Industry Trends Dominating Recruitment in China

Posted by in Asia, Commercial, Digital, Elite Performance, Helen Soulsby, HR

In 2015, one thing became clear: China led the way in sports business growth across Asia. New entrants, new commercial arrangements and new investors flooded the broad sports business landscape. The China sports industry promises more growth in 2016 and the war for talent is getting fierce. Smart companies know that great people will give them the edge.

Below we’ve briefly outlined six key trends (in no particular order) dominating recruitment within the Chinese sports industry.

1. Talent Identification and Transfer

With increased sophistication across all aspects of sport, many organizations now seek to recruit from outside of sport as they recognize the benefits of injecting new skills and experience from different sectors. This trend is particularly relevant in China where the relatively small candidate pool of sports industry executives is in contrast to the pace of growth and demand for management talent. It is important to identify candidates with the passion and commitment for a career in sport, an industry that is still in the ‘build’ phase in China in terms of sophistication and attractiveness.

2. International Expansion

Whether an international rights holder operating in/entering China or a Chinese owned company driving local and international business, the need to understand the intricacies and pace of the Chinese market within the context of international growth is essential. Before you expand ensure you have the correct organizational set up and structure in place to ensure optimal business outcomes.

3. Internationalized Local Talent

The demand for internationalized local candidates is significant and the candidate pool is more than aware of this, leading to a constant state of flux as candidates move frequently from one organization to another and salary levels rise. Ensuring an organization is an employer of choice with strong retention strategies is essential.

4. Digital Focus

The demand for strong ‘digital’ talent has exploded exponentially in the last 12 months in China. Digital media experts across distribution and monetization, as well as digital and social media marketers, are in high demand. This trend is not slowing as the industry experiences ground breaking digital content partnerships and leads the way in social media integration.

5. Sport Investment Funds in China

The proliferation of funds investing in sports business is significant, creating a landscape where talent needs to understand and be able to balance the requirements of rights holders and investors. Many funds have limited experience of the sports industry and require expertise to capitalize on their investment. Companies now involved in the sports industry – be they technology or other corporates – are looking to utilize their current resources and integrate selected specialist talent into their teams to maximize their involvement and commercial return.

6. Elite Performance

In China there is still a reticence to utilize professional firms to assist with coaching and technical appointments. However, as sport continues to professionalize and competition for specialized staff increases, a structured process that can ensure a rigour and objectivity that otherwise may not be achieved and ‘protects’ the sporting organization from costly hiring mistakes, is vital.

If you would like any further information about hiring in China, please contact our Head of China, Zhang Ting on or +86 189 118 551 41, or Helen Soulsby, our Managing Partner – Asia on or +65 6536 6634.