Back in the day, if you had a foreign face and a few mediocre skills you could land a high paying job in China, no problem. Unfortunately, those days are over; it now takes a lot more to find your dream job in the Middle Kingdom.
China’s job arena is becoming more competitive, the economy is slowing, and the government is implementing new visa regulations, all of which play a role in the "de-foreignerzation" of China’s workforce. Nonetheless, if you meet the requirements, there’s no reason why you can’t succeed at a Chinese company – just make sure to spice up your China resume and tailor it to a local employers' standards to improve your chances.
Below are some resume game-changers:
Your first China job hunting tip is not an easy one: learn Mandarin! Depending on the role, you may need no Mandarin, just conversational Mandarin or to be fluent in reading and writing. It’s best to use the HSK tests to quantify your proficiency. If you’re an expert, sit the HSK 6 and make sure to advertise it boldly on your resume. If you’re at a lower level, let it be known, but point out that you’re actively studying for higher levels, preferably with a one-on-one teacher or at a Mandarin school. Employers will want to see that you’re taking measures to improve your linguistic abilities.
Chinese companies will be much more willing to hire you if you’ve worked in their industry, or (even better) with a competitor. It’s more common for Chinese workers to bounce around the competition than it is in the West, and Chinese employers actually like this since you can bring over ideas from their rivals. Be sure to list any ties you have to Chinese companies or industry competitors on your resume.
If you don’t have work experience, try finding a relevant internship before starting the search for your dream China job. Many internships are unpaid and won’t provide an official work visa, but if you’re trying to crack the Chinese market and gain that ever-important experience, you’re going to have to knuckle down. Check out internship organizations who can place you at companies, or contact businesses directly. Job search sites like our very own eChinacities (plug, plug) also list internship positions.
Employers will be impressed if you've worked in a Chinese company before and/or had ample China experience. They'll want to know that you’re accustomed to Chinese work culture and can get along with other local staff. Therefore any Chinese experience you have, write it down. Whether it’s work, study abroad, internships, traveling, Mandarin classes, or even Chinese-related organizations that you participated in back home (such as Confucius Institutes), highlight all things China.
Furthermore, remember that it’s going to be a lot easier for them to hire you if you’re actually IN China. If you’re applying from afar, this will almost certainly be to your disadvantage. The employer will want to know they can meet you in person before proceeding - "face" and appearance holds great value in China. Even if you're not in China when you apply, make it clear that you're shortly to move to the city where the job is.
Keep it Business
Western companies often like to see volunteer work or hobbies listed on a CV to get a better understanding of who you are as a person. Chinese companies… not so much. Chinese HR managers are more concerned with the cold, hard facts. Your work experience weigh more than that volunteer trip you did in Guatemala in college, and they really don’t care that you’re an amateur chess champion.
Wait a minute, you may be asking, didn’t you just say list all things China??? True, if you volunteered in Southern Sichuan, or are a master in Shaolin Kung Fu, that's another story. In that case, let your potential future employer know.
If you already have a work visa (or another kind of visa) that is valid for three to six months, you may want to indicate this on your resume or during the initial interview. Since obtaining work visas for foreigners can be a time-consuming process (and by time consuming we mean a nightmare), the recruiter may prefer to hire a foreigner on a trial basis for a few months before deciding whether they’d like to keep him/her for the long haul. Someone who already has some kind of visa that allows him/her to stay for several months could be more attractive to HR, possibly creating a tie-breaker between you and another candidate.
As you can see, there are various things you can add to and/or highlight on your resume to improve your chances of landing that dream job in China. While there’s no reason to lie (this isn’t recommended!), tailoring your talents to a Chinese employer’s taste can do wonders for your work prospects. Good luck!
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