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Headhunters' Test Set

More than 2,500 people have registered for the city's first exam to certify "headhunters," - personnel who specialize in placing professionals in executive-level positions - city Personnel Bureau officials said.

The Shanghai Human Resources Service Agent Qualification Exam is scheduled for April 7.

The exam is part of city government's efforts to regulate the headhunting market as private and joint-venture firms are now allowed to compete with government-run employment services.

"The qualification exam allows existing government-owned firms and their new counterparts to compete on a level playing field," said bureau Deputy Director Wang Shaochang.

A new regulation requires private and joint-venture headhunting firms to employ at least five qualified professionals.

"In the future, only firms with business licenses and the minimum number of qualified professionals will be allowed to operate," said Ding Yiling, a bureau official in charge of overseeing headhunting firms.

Prior to policy changes three months ago, foreign headhunters generally charged a firm about 200,000 yuan (US$24,096) for each candidate the company hired, while the government-owned personnel service charged 10,000 to 20,000 yuan.

Bureau statistics showed that there were 113 licensed firms in October. Officials estimated that an additional 200 to 300 companies are doing job-placement work while identifying themselves as "consulting firms."

In mid-December, the first 19 business licenses were issued to private and joint-venture headhunting firms.

Ding said April's exam focuses on employment-related regulations.

Lu Ming, deputy director of the city-owned Shanghai Human Resources Service Center, has registered to take the exam. She said passing test and becoming certified won't ensure a thriving business. Headhunters will still have to work hard to find suitable hirees for their client firms, she added.

He Jian said he is preparing for the exam, although his private consulting firm hasn't yet been granted the pertinent license.

There is a gold mine in this business and we want to be ready as soon as possible, according to He.

(eastday.com January 14, 2002)

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