A Career in China – What Does it Take?
If you are interested in a career in China, then there are a number of things to consider before you make the move. Planning is of the utmost importance when it comes to moving to another country, especially if you don’t speak Mandarin.
Starting a career in China can be worthwhile but you need to think about it carefully and ensure that you have all of the information that is needed for you to live a happy and prosperous life abroad. Work in China is challenging and fast paced. For a meaningful experience, there are a few things you need to know.
A country that has ranked 3rd in the world for the most attractive place to work in by foreigners is China, with its improved strength and global image. For more than a decade it has increased its foreign intake by 3.9% since 2013 when there was a record of 848,500 foreigners residing in China according to the International Migration report.
The market demands in China are a result of structural change in job markets, and labor demands have increased bringing in lower end labor from neighboring countries. The government is said to be going to speed up the immigration policy to attract skilled workers as required for their economic upgrade.
The country is looking for people who are not fresh out of college but experienced and skilled in their profession and vocation. Managerial positions, team leaders, sales and marketing managers, service related positions, construction, manufacturing, and mining is where the need lies. Manual laborers are also in serious need but if you are planning to go over to China then learning the language should be on the list of things to do as well as having some experience in your field first.
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Engineers, IT professionals, and teachers are also in demand, with teachers sometimes not needing any teaching expeience. For inexperienced college graduates, internships are a good way to get your foot in the door of a company in any field. Some companies will hire you on at the conclusion of the internship.
Companies that hire foreigners:
1. Cheetah Mobile is an IT company in Beijing
2. The International Business Department of Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo hire foreigners who have a good understanding of westerners.
3. Time Education China Holdings for English teaching jobs
4. Zara retail stores
6. China Minsheng Bank
Finance companies will also hire a foreigner if they have experience in the field on a management level. All companies listed are for experienced and qualified people who have worked in their field for a while.
If you are looking to start a business in China, do your homework because the western way of thinking is not the same as in China and the consumers are very different. Asking people who have already set up a business is a good idea so that you can learn from their mistakes as to what works and what does not. Traveling to China or going to trade fairs is also a good idea to build relationships which are an important aspect of the Chinese business culture
Take a look at what type of businesses the Chinese government is looking for by having a look at their five-year plan. The cost of doing business rises and you need to take into consideration labor costs as this has increased due to a lack of interest in these types of jobs. Production costs are also on the increase due to government regulations on taxes and retirement insurance as well as on raw materials. Gas and diesel fuel costs are always on the rise.
The location is also important to consider because you cannot just settle anywhere and expect to succeed. You need to do your research to familiarize yourself with the big cities, as well as searching for where businesses of your kind locate.
Transportation, logistics, rental and what kind of entity you will be are important to consider too. Being an entity or major corporation has its pros as you can decide what direction your company needs to go while choosing to have a Chinese business partner might lead to different ideas, causing problems. On the other hand, a Chinese partner will speak the language, have connections, and know the culture. Additionally, new ideas are how businesses progress.
A business plan is necessary as the government will only approve your business if they like your plan and it benefits their country, so this needs to be done professionally. Trademark your goods or business, ensure that you find a good bank, and get yourself a liaison if you cannot understand the language or the way that business works.
The pros of having your own business are that it will give you a challenge and a fresh start in a modern world with a growing economy that is rising all the time. The con’s of having your own business is that you might find that the consumer is very different and your way of thinking and the western way of doing business might not work at all in China.
Beijing is considered to have the countries best environment for start-ups as they have the economic structure, cultural and market-related policies. Although the start-ups are a good idea they do take long to make money if they make a profit at all as the government’s tax preferences, financing channels and efficiency has created problems and research showed that most of the start-ups were family funded.
Working for a start- up is something that should be thought about carefully for some of the following reasons:
1. You might not get paid and if you do it will most probably be a small portion with an offer to have a slight equity which might never pay off.
2. You might be offered a higher position that might never come.
3. Receiving a long list of responsibilities and long working hours
4. The company might not make it, giving you no job security.
When job searching it is important to know that the job you are applying for is legitimate. Look online on reputable websites. Once you have found a job to apply to, it is a good idea to search for the particular job or company on scam alert sites.
When applying for a job in China, you should submit the following:
· A cover letter
· A curriculum vitae or resume that includes your personal information, work experience, educational history, and accomplishments. Stick to the basic information and refrain from boasting too much as the Chinese are rather modest.
· Certificates, diplomas, and degrees. Include any of your documents stating your educational accomplishments.
The next step will be an interview with the company you have applied to. If it is a strictly China-based company this will take place through a phone call or a Skype conversation. If there are offices in your country, a face to face interview can occur.
Most Accessible Jobs:
Banking and Finance
Sales and Marketing
When you first start working in a Chinese company, there will be a probation period which will be stipulated in your contract and failing to respect your contract can lead to legal implications. An employee cannot be terminated before the given probation. An employee cannot leave their job within the given probation. If any of these occur, there will be legal implications.
If you have worked less than 6 moths, there will be no designated probation period. If your contract is for 6 months or over, one-month probation is in place. If your contract is for 1 to 3 years, three months’ probation is in place. For a contract that is for over 3 years, a six-month probation is in place.
Health Insurance in China is quite expensive; some companies do not offer health care. It may be good to have travel insurance.
Tax is very high for foreigners in China. You could pay on average 20% to 40% of your salary to tax.
Finding an apartment or flat can be stressful anywhere. To avoid stress, plan ahead. It is better to look for apartments online before moving to China. This way you will get an idea of the price of rent, and you can see which area is most suitable for you. Once you get to China, your coworkers should be able to offer some help.
Once you have found a potential apartment or area to look at, do some research about the local public transportation. It would mean nothing to find a nice apartment at an affordable price if you have no nearby transportation. Of course, it is also a bonus if you can find a place that is near to where you work, but with public transportation, the commute should not be too difficult. Learning the language or at least a basic form of the language will help smoothen out any relocation issues.
Once you have made the decision to move and work in China, one of the first things to consider is how you are going to adjust to the distinctly different culture. The culture in China is centuries old, and this can take some getting used to; you will need to consider ways in which to conquer culture shock.
Sticking out like a sore thumb is inevitable for many foreigners in China. This is not a negative point though as the Chinese are rather positive and friendly towards tourists and foreigners. You will even find that they will be willing to share their culture with you, teach you their language and cook you meals. If you can embrace your new found popularity, this should not shock you too much.
The language barrier is going to be your first obstacle. Normal daily tasks, such as finding stores and amenities will start out being more challenging than what you are used to, but with a bit of time and adjustment, it all gets a lot easier and more natural. A helpful solution is to join a group of English-speaking expats. This is a way to feel like you are part of a community and you can get some excellent advice from people who have been in China for longer than you. One of the ways to find these groups is through a language class. Doing some research can go a long way and so can learning the basics of the local language. Socializing in China is wonderful once you get into the swing of things. Joining an expat community or socializing with the people at your workplace can help you adapt to living in China.
Once you have gotten past the initial issues such as the language barrier, the next thing that will be quite a shock for you is the pollution. You can find tips on how to come to terms with the pollution as it is a part of the daily life of the population in China including the expats (although depending on where you are it could be seasonal).
If you are coming from a small town with not much traffic then you will have to adjust to the high traffic in China. Public restrooms and the level of cleanliness might not be what you are used to, but bearing in mind again that this is a busy place, once you start adjusting and living in the environment, everything starts to appear normal for you.
From teaching to working in the corporate world, China offers a vast variety of careers. With this comes an expansive variation of salaries. The amount of salary you get is really dependent on the choice of your job. The more experience you have in a specialized job, the better the salary will be.China is the second biggest economy in the world and if you have the experience and drive, you can stand to make a lot of money in China. Alternately if you are looking for a more casual job, the pay is also reasonably good. Salaries in the bigger cities are higher while the salaries in rural areas are lower however, but you will have a lower cost of living in rural areas. For a second language English teacher, the salary is on average 120,000 (CNY) per year, this is one of the most popular jobs that China has to offer expats looking to gain work and travel experience. The average salary for an English Copywriter is 280,000 (CNY). The salaries range from 120,000 (CNY) to 700,000 (CNY) depending on qualifications and years of experience. Learning the local language will help increase your salary as will having certifications.
The cost of living in China is reasonably lower than most western countries. This will allow you to save money and live contently on the average salary. Bear in mind the bigger cities will have a higher cost of living but offer higher salaries.
Do’s and Don’ts in Chinese offices
Starting a new job anywhere in the world can be daunting and stressful. Like in any office in the world, you need to establish what the office rules are and you need to have the appropriate office etiquette. To make your office environment a pleasant one, there are a few tips that can help you.
A Professional Relationship with Co-workers.
Do establish a healthy, friendly and respectful relationship with coworkers.
Do socialize with coworkers on your same level.
Meetings and Treatment of Bosses.
Do show respect and patience during office meetings.
Don’t speak out of turn during the meetings.
Don’t try to socialize or converse with the big bosses. Unlike many western companies, in China, it is not common to socialize with the people of higher levels than you.
Do follow orders from your bosses.
Don’t try to negotiate your way out of an order.
Do be a team player.
Do keep your company expenses to a minimum This varies with each profession, but it is common to be asked to use your personal phone for business.
Do attend company social gatherings that occur, you may be requested to attend events after hours and your attendance is expected. Failing to attend will show that you are not a team player and that you lack respect.
Every country has a fair share of scams. China is no different and with the large influx of expats, there is a big market for scammers. The best way to avoid scams is by doing a lot of research into the company that you are dealing with. Whether it is for a job, visa, or renting a house, be aware of red flags that present themselves to you.
These can cause you to lose your money and have your identity stolen. To avoid this, use a reputable company.
Fake internships and job listings
There are numerous scams surrounding the job market in China. The worst of these scams come from fake recruiters and agents on the internet.
How to avoid these scams
Basic research is a must before accepting a job or applying for a visa. Find your own job. Do not go through an agent or a recruiter. If you have been offered an internship from what seems to be a reputable company through an agent, contact that company directly to see if the job offer is legitimate. Always ask for a phone number and an email address, these are useful tools to discover if you are dealing with a scammer.