How to Market Your China Experience to Overseas Employers

How to Market Your China Experience to Overseas Employers
Nov 04, 2011 By Bryce Roberts ,

If making the big move overseas after considerable time in China is on your mind, no doubt your ability to market your experiences here to potential employers will be tested. In today's rough labor market, making the most of your hard work is more vital than ever to continued success in your career. While friends and family members may be quick to laud your exotic choice of international living, recruiters will scrutinize rather than congratulate you on your time spent here.  The following are some observations and tips on how to sell your experience to workplaces in the West.


Life in China is so different from that in Western countries that it's hard to explain to the uninitiated.  The break-neck speed of growth, the teeming cities, the almost palpable excitement of a country on the move are all huge draws to expatriates, yet are also hard to put into words when dealing with recruiters in developed countries.

Know your audience
There are several narratives of China (perhaps as many as there are observers), and knowing which one businesses subscribe to more is helpful to your chances of fitting in. For instance, Western businesses have been moving more towards the "domestic consumption" model from the "cheap labor" one as salaries and the Renminbi exchange rate (not to mention flagging demand for exports from recession-hit countries) have decreased cost savings. For this reason, understanding the Chinese market may be a better skill to showcase than dealing with product sourcing. Similarly, it helps to play on companies' fears of an opaque, insular Chinese business environment that requires a seasoned guide (i.e. you!) for any modicum of success to be achieved. In short, remember that human resources executives may have a biased or narrow understanding of China, even as they seek a China hand to add to the ranks at their firm.

Find where you fit in
While this is incredibly oversimplifying the issue, it's a good start to know what side of the "bridge" you plan on operating on. By this I mean: will you help bring the West to China/local Chinese, or will you bring China to the West? The most simple examples would be acting as a sales or marketing manager to Chinese enterprises (bringing the West to them), or acting as a buyer or quality control manager (bringing China to the West). Both require the knowledge and experience you have gained, but place different demands on them. Be wary of how much emphasis there will be on written Chinese if your ability there lacks the quality of your spoken Mandarin. Also, make sure you're prepared to function as the kind of interface your future job requires of you; marketing to Chinese is very different from working with Chinese staff to serve foreign customers in China. 

Factor your industry experience into your job search
A quick look at ads with "mandarin" in the search column on US-based jobs site reveals a huge variety in the listings. Accountants, engineers, purchasers, stock brokers, financial analysts, and IT specialists with Chinese language skills are all in demand. If you're like me and don't have a specialized background in any of the above, there are plenty of jobs in sales, account management and business development. Still, make sure that your resume reflects your China-specific experience in your given industry. By narrowing down your experience to particular tasks such as quality control, web design, customer service, or sales, while putting a Chinese spin on things, you make your qualities relevant to potential employers who need you for your overseas experience.

In short, know who you're talking to and what they want to hear. Find what your role in the firm would be, and accentuate your relevant China experiences to show recruiters how great of a fit you'd be.

Add Sino spin
Add a China spin to your industry-specific skills in order to satisfy the international requirements that businesses tout more than ever in our increasingly globalized world. Even though China is now home to a large foreign population, those with considerable experience here are still relatively few when compared to the size of the Chinese market. Keep your own value in mind as you sell your experiences to recruiters back home, wherever that may be.

Related Links
Five Ways to Improve Your Post-China Employability
How Hard Is It To Run A Business Legally In China?
China Beyond the Blackboard: Finding Jobs Besides Teaching

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More than comment on the article, I'm compelled to comment on how wrong you are Jay. Jay,Jay,Jay. Sounds like you have more an axe to grind against a compnay that perhaps didn't hire you or terminated you and these are your perceptions of why. Perhaps your own appearance wasn't to standard? Tell me that any company located in China, Japan, South Korea, England or even Brazil does not take an applicants appearance into consideration. I hope when people read these comments that you realize they are opinions, not fact, and can distinguish between the two and dismiss the thoughtless, unintelligable comments like Jay's. I find that people in the US at this time in particular, are very interested in China and following quite closely the business that is transacted. The culture and traditions of course are very different, but there is more of a "social compromise" to complete business deals these days. And don't forget what brought alot of attention to China to do with many countries Jay. The opening ceremony of the 2008 summer games. You remember that don't you? Anyone who saw it was in awe, those who didn't wish they did or struggled to obtain rebroadcasts.
But Jay would like you believe that appearances aren't important.

Aug 19, 2012 23:59 Report Abuse



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