More expats now live and work in China than ever before, and their numbers have been increasing at the rate of 10% annually since the year 2000. Most of the expats in China come from South Korea, followed by the US and Japan. You can also see a mix of other nationalities like Britons, Indians, Singaporeans, Germans, French, and Australians.
Is China a good place for expats to work? The answer to this question depends upon where you are, what you are planning to do, and what your expectations are.
Average Expat Salaries in China
China is a great place to start a career or gain experience, but if you are expecting a hefty paycheck, you’d better be going to another country. The average salary of a young foreign graduate may start at $8000 per year. Highly qualified or experienced candidates may be able to land better-paying jobs, but you’ll be lucky if you are earning $800 to $2000 a month. The ratio between the buying power of money in China and America is 3.5-to-1, so a salary of $1000 in China is equivalent to $3500 in the US.
How to Go About Finding a Job in China
Finding a job and working in China isn’t exactly a cakewalk. Don’t expect any Chinese firm to send you air tickets and arrange for your hotel stay in order to interview you, even if you are a Harvard or Oxford graduate. You’ll need to come to China and spend your own money before you can find a job here. Most people who come here after doing their homework can find a job between 2 to 4 weeks, but as I said, it’s not easy.
China now has more students studying in American and European universities than probably any other country. These foreign graduates are the first priority with most of the Chinese employers because they know China and also know the Western world. The booming Chinese economy does accommodate other nationalities as well, but you’ll have to do the legwork—post applications and wait for interviews— unless you are a really big gun.
You’ll be doing yourself a favor if you learn basic Mandarin before (or immediately after) arriving in China. Knowing the language will open many doors for you. It’s better to get referrals from your friends, colleagues or college’s placement center and have a few key contacts in your address book before landing in China. Where exactly to look depends upon the kind of job that you are looking for. Schools or colleges are a good place to start if you aren’t too sure. You can either join a Mandarin class or get a job as English teacher, which will give you a good foothold to start exploring more options.
Job Search Resources in China
There are plenty of recruitment agencies looking for the talents that you have, but you’ll need to reach out to them wearing your best suit, which means posting résumés, making your LinkedIn or other professional profiles, networking, scanning newspapers and magazines for job opportunities, following up, appearing at interviews…the usual drill. You can start your job hunt with the following resources.
China Job: It’s a great website displaying thousands of job opportunities for working in China in English teaching and professional fields.
51 Job: The website has over 300 million average daily views, so you can imagine the extent of opportunities here. 51 Job has jobs for almost anyone.
Zhaopin: If you know Mandarin, this is the search engine of choice for you. Although the interface may look cluttered, there are some great job opportunities on this website.
Career Jet: Another great job portal if you know Mandarin. There are plenty of job opportunities here in every field.
New China Career: The leading English language job search website hosts more than 500,000 fresh career opportunities in China for foreigners.
There are many other China job search resources using which you can land a job sooner than you would expect. Working in China will give you a whole new prospective on business and trading, which will benefit you immensely in your professional life.
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