Light Wave


Swiping Right for Jobs: China’s Youth Turn to Tinder for Networking

By Jake Beardslee · March 16, 2024

In brief…

  • Youth in China turn to dating apps like Tinder to find job opportunities and network amid soaring unemployment
  • China's youth jobless rate hit 21.3% in June 2023, though revised to 14.9% in December (excluding students)
  • Unorthodox tactic reflects intense competition and lack of opportunities in economic downturn
  • While some employers may view Tinder networking favorably, Tinder itself discourages use for business purposes
With China's youth unemployment rate soaring, some young professionals are using dating apps like Tinder for job hunting and networking rather than romance.  Good Faces Agency/Unsplash

Young professionals in China facing soaring unemployment are getting creative with job hunting by using dating apps like Tinder. With intense competition and few opportunities, some are swiping right in hopes of networking their way into new roles.

“I simply swiped right on individuals in the industry I aspire to join,” tech hopeful Jade Liang, 26, told NBC News. She made over 400 job applications before resorting to Tinder, overtly stating her intentions once matched. “I find the response is generally welcoming.”

The unorthodox approach reflects China’s record 21.3% youth jobless rate as of June 2023. Though a revised metric put the December rate for 16-24 year olds at 14.9%, excluding students, that still dramatically outpaces 8% for that cohort in the U.S. “China’s problems appear to be more serious this time around,” economist Su Yue told NBC, citing the economic downturn, pandemic impact, and industry consolidation piling on youth.

Tinder discourages such use, saying its “platform is designed to foster personal relationships, not business ones.” Some critics argue it erodes trust on the app intended for romance. However, ex-recruiter Romy Liu told NBC that candidates sourcing opportunities this way demonstrate “strong social skills” that could impress employers – except perhaps state-owned firms who might “permanently blacklist you.”