8 Tips For Moving Your Career to China

Posted on Jun 21, 2016 | 0 comments

8 Tips For Moving Your Career to China

In the last decade, China has become a popular destination for expatriates to search for employment. Many see it as a land of opportunity and China indeed does appear to have many job opportunities.


Despite its booming economy, however, finding a job in China for foreign nationals can be challenging. This is a fact that not many realize until they experience it firsthand. Organizations, particularly multinational companies, typically hire expatriates to work in China for one of two reasons. The first is to impart their expertise in a particular field to the local team. The second is to fulfill a managerial role in a local branch in China. Such a position requires years of experience within the workplace, which of course, limits the opportunities available as well as the pool of qualified candidates.


However, it is still possible to find a job in China. In order to conduct a successful job search, start by keeping these three tips in mind:



Jobs available may not necessarily be the job you want. Therefore, an open mind and a little flexibility are always needed. Most expats in China find jobs in foreign-owned companies or joint ventures. Many foreign professionals find English-teaching jobs.



The second is to remember that in China relationships are very important while job hunting. This is tied to the importance of “guanxi” in the country. Guanxi is most simply translated as “connections” and refers to the network of relationships people use to get things accomplished. Employers rely heavily on referrals, particularly for foreign candidates, when choosing a candidate for a job opening. Only a small percentage of all jobs available are advertised. The majority are found through networking. Thus, it is important to adapt a strategy that covers all possible channels.



Businesses started by foreigners operate in very diverse fields, but many of them are in training/development/education; consulting services (law/finance/engineering/HR/recruiting); web and graphic design; imports; and entertainment including hotels, bars, and restaurants.

With that in mind, make sure you have these next five skills covered:


1. Learn the basics of the language.

This will impress any future employer. There are between seven and 13 main regional groups of Chinese language. The most commonly spoken, by far, is Mandarin followed by Wu, Cantonese, and Min. Mandarin is spoken throughout China, including in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Nanjing, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xiamen, Xian, and Yangshao. Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. Life in China will be much easier if you master the basics of the local language and there are lots of ways to learn, from private lessons to classes at universities. You may even have a new skill to add to your resume by the time you leave.


2. Be Prepared.

Always have an up-to-date resume ready to send, even if you are not currently looking for work. You never know when an opportunity that is too good to pass up might come along. Have a list of three references including name, job title, company, phone number and email address ready to give to interviewers. Get business cards with your contact info and address in both Chinese and English. These will be useful in your job hunt but also in your personal life (e.g. to show the address to a taxi driver). Make sure you set up your voice mail to receive messages and select a professional sounding email address. Put your cell phone number on your resume so a potential employer can contact you quickly.


3. Your network is your best resource.

Network wherever and whenever possible. Join Chambers of Commerce events but also socialize within non-professional organizations. Get involved and join an expat or other club, sports group or even start your own group. Tell everyone you know and meet that you’re looking for new opportunities. Be prepared to give a brief introduction about yourself, where you come from, your professional background, and why you are in China. Don’t forget to mention that you are interested in working.


4. Conduct a comprehensive number of informational interviews in your field of interest.

Give yourself three months to understand the market and conduct your informational interviews, then give yourself another three months for active job-seeking. Target companies that need your skill by using Chambers of Commerce directories and by attending seminars and networking events.


5. Think outside the box.

It may not be possible to continue working in the same field after you relocate, so this could be the chance to utilize your transferable skills or develop new skills. Many expats end up doing some kind of freelance work or start their own business so this might be an option for you. Look for volunteer opportunities as these can often offer good networking opportunities or a way to develop latent skills that might come in handy later in life. Volunteering also helps you meet people with similar interests. The people you meet have friends, or sometimes their own companies that might want to hire you. Consider taking an internship to learn marketable skills and prove yourself to a company that might have an opening soon. Companies will always avoid a candidate search and instead promote someone who already works for them.


Lucia Kolaja Bordean, Corporate Relations Manager

Edited by: Anna Sparks, Expert Global Career Consultant



Passport Career provides more detailed career information and extensive resources about networking, finding a job, internship, alternative career opportunities as well as information on writing CVs, cover letters and interviews. If your organization, embassy, university/college, library, or other institution would like access to our country portfolios (15,000+ pages of expert content for 80+ countries and 250+ cities) to share with your students, employees, spouses/partners, and others managing a national or international career transition, please contact us (or email info@passportcareer.com) regarding a free, live, online demo and details on how to obtain a license to access Passport Career.


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