updated your CV and you’re ready to start your next big job hunting adventure,
this time in China. Whether you’re looking for your first China job or your
fifth, navigating the job market here can be tricky at times. To make sure
you’re not caught off guard, here’s a brief guide on what to expect when you’re
job hunting in the Middle Kingdom.
Patience is a virtue
can take a very long time for companies to respond to an application, and we’re
talking up to a few months, or sometimes, never.
is fierce in a job market where you’ll be up against not only other foreigners,
but increasingly against highly skilled local talent with excellent English.
Make sure you start hunting at least a few months before you intend to move on
as the response time for companies seems to be slower than in the West.
said, there are two lessons to learn from this: start your job search well in
advance and don’t give up hope if your dream job doesn’t respond right away.
Network, network, network
is crucial in any job market, but in China, with its age old tradition of
guanxi, this importance increases tenfold.
first thing to remember is that while it’s tempting to only network within the
expat circle, if you really want to get a grasp on the full range of
opportunities in your chosen field, try your best to network within the Chinese
community too. Learning some Chinese, even just the basics will help too.
with people who work in HR departments of companies are extremely valuable and
enquiring about job opportunities through them will get you a lot further than
‘cold’ applications through job websites and recruitment services.
as a foreigner it’s easier to network with Chinese people sometimes as you
always have talking points to break the ice and people will be curious about
what you do and where you come from.
Things aren’t always what they seem
lot of expats come across red herrings in their job searches.
expats find job descriptions that suit what they’re looking for, apply,
sometimes interview, and will be offered a job which differs wildly from what
they were lead to expect, some of which turn out to be the notorious ‘face
jobs’; where foreigners are employed by the company for their Western
appearance to basically act as a mascot to be paraded around during meetings.
common occurrence is recruiters mysteriously getting hold of your contact
details and aggressively promoting positions to you. Love them or hate them,
recruiters will play a big part in your job hunt in China, so be ready to
insist on what you want and don’t be afraid to hold your ground.
Manage your expectations
isn’t the land of opportunity it once was. Ten years ago, foreigners were a
much rarer commodity and native level, fluent English a sought after enough
skill to land you a job that far exceeded your level of experience. However,
what the foreign community has lost in terms of highly paid jobs based on very
little credentials, it has gained in terms of real opportunities that can give
you valuable experience, help you hone your Mandarin and lead to increased
career potential in the future.
won’t be as crazily high as they used to be, especially if you are hunting from
within China, but before you complain, remember that you will more than likely
be receiving a lot more than your Chinese counterparts could hope to expect.
See it as an important stepping stone and embrace what you can learn from the
are looking to enter a job market in a society that is in many ways far less
progressive than in the West. Your future employers and colleagues are likely
to be fairly conservative, particularly among the middle aged men who dominate
at management level. With this in mind there is unfortunately an accepted level
of gender and racial discrimination when hiring.
Questions about your marital status, age
and family situation are not only common but expected in a job interview. How
you respond to these questions is up to you, but be aware that they are
standard practice in the hiring process in China.