17 February 2020

The guide to successful recruitment

Poor and smart. Those are more or less the two qualities that online shopping mall magnate Liu Qiangdong looks for when he takes on graduates to join his management team.

Liu is the founder of and although his approach to investment is much like his rivals’, he stands out from the pack when it comes to recruiting. Liu expanded on his philosophy on the business TV talk show Boss Town.

With decades of economic growth and improving incomes, many employers are finding it difficult to get the right workers. Though not the majority, a growing population of young people no longer care so much about their jobs because they can get by with the financial support from their parents. And it’s the kind of challenge that Liu probably has to confront.

Liu selects applicants mostly from low- to middle-income families to join the company’s annual management trainee program. The management team makes up about one-tenth of JD’s 30,000-plus workforce and its members come from diverse backgrounds.

The jobs don’t involve the physical labor of heavy lifting but managers do have to work hard to deal with tedious and tough problems like sorting out systems to cut delivery times by a minute or calming unhappy customers who don’t get their products on time or in the right condition.

Liu’s logic is that to do a good job it’s just as important to be able to tough it out and keep plugging away as it is to be able to think and learn.

It’s a page from the Liu playbook that entrepreneurs in China can consider taking.

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EJ Insight writer