Half of all foreigners move to China in search of a challenge, in contrast to the global average of thirty-seven percent. China ranks 6th in the world for disposable income, 7th in career progression, and 8th in social life according to a recent study of foreigners conducted by the HSBC group. PM 2.5 levels (one measure of pollution) has decreased in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Guangdong in the last three years.
As of 2013, there were 848,500 foreigners living in China, primarily in Eastern tier one city. Beijing has around 180,000 students, workers, and residents, many of whom come from Japan, the United States, and Korea. While having a large international or “expat” community can make life in China easier for foreigners, moving to China is still a challenge. Don’t let finding employment be another difficulty, read on to learn the five best ways to find a job in China.
In China, there is a term called guanxi which literally means relationships but in business connotes an understanding of doing something for another person with the expectation that it will at some point be reciprocated. It doesn’t matter whether you are Chinese or not, if you are working with Chinese, you could intentionally or unintentionally find yourself in a guanxi relationship.
If you are not yet in China, you probably don’t have much in the way of guanxi, but you may know people who do. For example, maybe you have an exchange student friend from China and their family has strong business ties in Shanghai. You could ask your friend if they know anyone who may be interested in hiring you in China and email them your resume. Your friend’s mother has a guanxi relationship with someone who is looking to hire someone in Shanghai. Your friend’s mom sends your resume through WeChat to the person she has the guangxi relationship with. This person is not sure if she needs another intern, but she likes your resume and “owes” your friend’s mom a favor so she hires you. She also trusts you more than the average foreigner because you are connected through association. Everyone is happy but now your friend’s mom needs to return the favor someday.
Job boards like Indeed and LaowaiCareer are a time efficient method when applying for jobs because once you create an account, you will be able to apply for jobs in just a few clicks. While Indeed is an international job board, LaowaiCareer is specific to foreigners looking for employment in China. Both job boards are free for job seekers and are a good place to start your search because you will get a sense of the broad range of opportunities in the Chinese market.
LinkedIn and WeChat
Since LinkedIn partnered with the Chinese app WeChat which is used by virtually all smartphone users in China, LinkedIn’s popularity has grown. WeChat users can link their LinkedIn profile to their WeChat profile, which is similar to if Facebook lets users connect their LinkedIn profile to their Facebook profile. The key difference is that WeChat is used for both work and personal use.
Before coming to China, you should download WeChat and link your LinkedIn to it. Upload a professional photo of yourself and add some photos to your moments that show a little bit about who you are. Always keep your moment’s workplace appropriate or opt not to share your moments with coworkers when accepting friend requests. On your resume, you can include your WeChat ID at the top which will make it easy for potential employers to get in contact with you and make your interaction more personal. Having your LinkedIn profile linked to your WeChat will make it easy for employers to review your resume on the go.
LinkedIn can also be a useful method for finding companies hiring within China. However, it is better for job seekers who are established in their career. For entry-level job seekers, it may be more beneficial to see if your connections or second-degree connections could be of help to you in your job search. You can ask your contact who knows the second-degree connection you want to meet to make the introduction, be it an email or coffee. At the very least, the second-degree connection may be able to give you some good advice.
China has a number of classifieds in English, such as the Beijinger and SmartShanghai. Much like Craigslist, anyone is able to post job openings everyone is able to apply. On the Beijinger website, many of the job postings are for English teaching positions while SmartShanghai is a broader selection. Because both classifieds are well known among foreigners in China, some positions get many applicants which could mean the competition is high.
You may find the idea of networking intimidating, but attending social events is a great way to expand your professional network. The truth is, many people feel awkward about networking but they go ahead and do it because they understand the importance. Force yourself to partake. You may even make some friends in the process or at the very least meet some interesting people who surely know many things you don’t know!
Whether you are in or outside of China, local Chambers of Commerce are a good place to start with networking. For example, Beijing has an active British Chamber of Commerce. You don’t need to be employed to attend and you certainly don’t need to be British. Most people who attend the British Chamber’s events are Chinese and expats from Western countries.
On the other hand, you don’t need to attend formal networking events to build your network. Any gathering can be of help, be it a knitting or hiking club. So long as you surround yourself with motivated people, you will surround yourself with opportunities for career advancement. Don’t be afraid to be bold. Always ask new connections for their business card or contact information. If you want to meet them again, ask them for coffee (or maybe for tea in China).
To succeed professionally in China, you need to be smart about how you search for jobs and continuously seek to build your network. In China, there is always a way to find a solution, but you need to know the right people who can help you succeed.