What You Need to Know Before Working in China

Chinese General working

Often on the first day of class, I like to discuss with my students why they chose to learn Mandarin Chinese in China. Some students are young and interested in the appeal of something mysterious. Some of my students are a few decades older and settling down in China with family or already working in high-level positions. The majority of my students are still young in their 20s, but have a few years work experience and want to restart their careers in China. Today, I’m going to introduce some tips for finding a job in China, along with some necessary skills you will need from day one when you’re hired.

China’s economic rise over the past decades has been well-known throughout the world. As economic opportunities continue to draw people from around the world, it’s important to enter the Chinese job market knowing exactly what skills you need and what resources to use for finding a job in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, among others.

Skills Needed to Work in China:

语言 (Yǔyán) Language.

While not absolutely necessary to work at many positions in China, knowing the Chinese language, particularly Mandarin Chinese, will open numerous doors that would otherwise be closed off. Many of my former students have seen their career skyrocket as a result of speaking proficient or fluent Mandarin. Yes, some jobs are looking for foreign expertise which does not require Mandarin language skills. Not having Chinese skills even at the beginner level is no reason to cancel hopes of working in China. However, having a basic knowledge of Mandarin will propel your resume as well as make your working life with colleagues more pleasant.

专业学位 (Zhuānyè xuéwèi) A professional degree.

Most foreign workers come to China prepared with a relevant degree from a university in their home country. Especially popular in demand in China are workers that are qualified in the fields of marketing, IT and the financial sectors. China is now an accelerated consumer society and those with experience in advertising, marketing and distribution may find themselves in demand in the Chinese job market.

教学经验 (Jiàoxué jīngyàn) Teaching experience.

English is one of the hottest commodities in mainland China today. In the largest cities, Chinese families spend on average 1/3 of their income on education. Learning English with a native English speaker, especially with those qualified to teach English professionally, has increased in demand over the past twenty years. Today, many jobs teaching English also include benefits such as free accommodation and meals. It’s never been a better time to be an English teacher in China.

Resources to Find a Job in China:

The popular Western networking site Linkedin got off to a slow start in China, it has taken off recently, connecting workers from around the world with local Chinese companies. Creating a profile in both English and Chinese writing will help you greatly on this site.

JobLeadChina is a professional recruitment website that lends its services for free.

Craigslist is another website which is popular among international workers looking to crack into the Chinese market, just as it is in other large cities around the world.

Douban.com offers some groups for jobs and recruitment.

eChinaCities is a site ran by expats which offers first-hand advice on living in urban China, as well as job and career advice and opportunities.

“微信 (Wēixìn) WeChat” is an essential part of Chinese life today, with numerous resources to learn and practice the Chinese language. In addition to social benefits, “微信 (Wēixìn) WeChat” also has many jobs posted, as companies set up accounts with updates on recruitment and career opportunities that are updated daily. Staying up-to-the-minute with hiring information is now possible on “微信 (Wēixìn) WeChat”.

Moving to a new country and beginning a new career is an exciting time in anyone’s life. Combine this professional change with the general optimism and excitement of China, and you’ve got an exciting combination of cultural and professional opportunity that is drawing those around the world seeking new experiences.

As many of my Mandarin Chinese students have proven, learn the language, use the best resources available and get ready for a new world!


HSK 3 quiz

1. Which of the following is not an important skill or qualification that you will need to get well-paid jobs in China?

A. 语言技能 (Yǔyán jìnéng)

B. 微信 (Wēixìn)

C. 专业学位 (Zhuānyè xuéwèi)

―Written by Becky Zhang―

Becky Zhang is a teacher at eChineseLearning.com. She has over eight years of experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to foreign students and promoting Chinese culture. She lives in Beijing but loves traveling to ancient Chinese villages. One day she’d like to be a tour guide in China!

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