In recent years, China has become a popular destination, both for tourists and for foreigners wanting to either learn the language or work there. However, it is not always as easy as arriving on a tourist visa, finding a job and setting up home; in fact, it can be downright difficult to do so. If you are thinking of moving to China to work, here are some tips that could help you find a job successfully.
Do your research
Knowing what kind of companies exist in China and what sort of job openings they may have is necessary before you even consider applying to any of them. Much of this information can be found by trawling the Web, but if you have any links to people who work in China, then ask them for information. Then make sure your CV is tailored towards what you think companies will be looking for. This is particularly important if you don’t have much in the way of work experience – think about what you could offer a company and make sure you play on those traits.
Go back to school
Although there are plenty of foreigners that live and work in China without being able to speak a word of the local language, it is definitely an advantage to be able to at least converse with the locals. You may have learned some Chinese in your native country, but it is never quite the same as learning it in the local environment. There are language schools all over China, some of them attached to prestigious universities – these offer excellent courses. You will also have the chance to network with local Chinese people, which should stand you in good stead when looking for a job.
Many foreigners go to China to teach English at schools and universities across the country. Usually, the school will organise a package, which gives you accommodation, food, a work permit and a small living allowance (although you may need to eke this out with your own money). Hours obviously vary, as does the difficulty level of the English you are teaching, but you should still find yourself with plenty of free time to learn the language and get to know your environment.
Perhaps the easiest way to find work in China is to have a job in your native country which has links with China and then get yourself posted out to China. This has one big advantage – usually an excellent standard of accommodation and a high wage will be included, possibly even relocation fees for your family. However, it can leave you cut off from the country if you are stuck in a ‘ghetto’ for foreigners and you are surrounded by people who speak your own language. Nor does it have the excitement of finding your own way in a new country.
Be an intern
If you have little work experience and don’t speak the language well, you may be able to find work by offering yourself out as an intern to begin with. Many international companies have offices in China and will be prepared to take on interns for a couple of months. Embassies are also a good place to inquire. This may not result in a job, but you will have gained work experience, which is always going to look good on a CV. Plus, you will be more aware of the working environment and whether it is something that you really want to immerse yourself in without getting bogged down in contracts.
Be locally employed…for a (low) price
Finding out about jobs locally isn’t always that easy – it often is a question of word of mouth and knowing the right people. However, there are a number of English (and other) language newspapers which will have adverts. You will need to check in advance whether the job comes with a working visa and also that the salary isn’t a completely local one – you may find otherwise that it is not enough to pay for rent and living costs. However, if you can find a job with a decent wage, it is fabulous experience and may well lead to promotion.
Check out the law
Something that many foreigners ignore is the local law. You need to have a work permit and visa to live and work in China. And foreigners are not permitted to live in certain areas – which are unfortunately the cheapest ones accommodation-wise. People (including, at one point, the author) do live illegally and get away with it, but you should be aware that you could, at any point, be forcibly ejected from the country if you are caught. Just make sure that you do your research and know what you are preparing yourself for.
If you are hoping to work in China, then the best of luck, you are in for a real treat. There are many fabulous opportunities to be had and, best of all, you will have an amazing experience, one that will last you a life-time!