Looking for jobs is always tedious, but looking for jobs in China comes with a unique set of challenges. However, there are numerous things you can do and tools you can use to make your application process easier. Listed below are a few tips to make sure you are at your best when job hunting in China.
Photo: Julie Walraven
Tailor Your Resume
Each job description should come with a summary of the specific skills it requires. Having only one resume won’t make you stand out for every application. Making sure that your resume includes words or phrases from the posted job description will not only make your resume ATS friendly, but will also hopefully get you past the HR department, who very much act as the gatekeepers for China job applicants. If you don’t know, ATS stands for “Applicant Tracking System”, and is a type of recruiting software widely used in China to find, screen, and rank candidates. To make sure that your resume is ATF friendly and perfectly suited for each and every job, check out JobScan.co. It provides ATS friendly templates and tips on how to make sure your resume aligns with the job you’re applying for. Once it’s ready, upload it to eChinaJobs and let employers find you.
Prepare a Cover Letter Template
Similarly to how you now have a template for your resume that you can simply add information and keywords to, making a cover letter template will save you hours when applying for jobs. Although most employers in China won’t expect you to attach a cover letter separately as you might do in the West, you should include a little something about yourself in the email when you apply for a job.
Always state clearly what position you’re applying for and where you found the posting. Some big Chinese companies will have multiple job openings at any one time, and if HR can’t figure out quickly which one you’re applying for they’re likely to discount you all together. Then, introduce yourself, your background and your current availability. This can all be pre-written in your template. The third paragraph should focus on why you’d be a good fit for the company and the job. You can have this pe-written too, but always try to add a little something about the company that you didn’t find on the job posting. This will make it seem as though you’re already familiar with the business. You can usually glean something fairly quickly from their website or social media. Lastly, include your contact information in your email signature, including your all-important WeChat ID. A lot of recruiters will make first contact over WeChat.
Send a Follow-up e-mail
After emailing over a job application or even after an interview, you often won’t hear back in China. HR staff here are too busy to massage your ego. To counter this, send a follow-up email to politely nudge the HR and let them know you’re still interested and available. It's important that you ask for something specific, however, as you’re likely to get ignored all over again otherwise. Check out these sample questions to include in the email:
* I was wondering if you had any feedback following the interview?
* Is there any additional information I can provide on my end to help move the process forward?
Including a specific question or request in your follow-up email gives your message a purpose (other than simply trying to draw attention to yourself) and the HR will be more inclined to respond. If you’ve been communicating with someone over WeChat, be sure to send a quick message after an interview to say thanks/nice to meet you. This is always appreciated.
In the land of “guanxi”, networking is one of the best resources for finding a job in China. Let people know you’re looking for new opportunities, send out some WeChat Moments, and be sure to chat with, and get contact details from, as many people as you can, whatever field of work they’re in. The nice thing about China is that it’s totally not seen as creepy to ask to connect with someone on WeChat within the first five minutes of meeting them. That’s just the way it is here.
Follow up with people you haven’t spoken to in a while and join new social media groups. You’ll be amazed what can come out of the most unlikely of places. You can also connect with people on LinkedIn (using a VPN) that work in your industry and ask if they’ve heard of anything. Go to job fairs, meetups and more social events. In China, who you know is a lot more valuable that what you know, particularly when job hunting.
Expand Your Reach
The most common way to job hunt in China is online, such through our sister site eChinaJOBS (plug plug). Another possibility, however, is to search the website of a company you’re interested in working for and find an email address for HR or, even better, the boss. Send over your (tailored) resume along with a short (tailored) cover letter explaining what position you’re applying for (if you’ve seen one listed), or what you like about the company and could bring to it (if not). The latter doesn’t always yield a high success rate, but sometimes it pays to get on someone’s radar.
Lastly, check out part-time jobs. Worst case scenario, you make some extra cash while looking for other jobs; best case, the job becomes full-time. I’ve found many employers in China are keen to test the goods before fully investing when it comes to employing foreigner workers.
Any more tips for job hunting in China? Leave them in the comments section below.
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