The Pros and Cons of Gaining Employment in China

The Pros and Cons of Gaining Employment in China
Apr 05, 2018 By Degen Hill ,

Where you work has a huge impact on both your professional and personal life. As is the case everywhere, the wild world of employment in China has its ups and down; things that affirm your decision to work here, and other things that make you question why you chose China in the first place. Regardless of what job you have, there will certainly be a number of things, both good and bad, about working in China. Let’s take a look.


Money goes further
China is cheaper than most developed countries, and the salaries for many jobs are competitive within their industries. This means you can usually live a comfortable life without having to worry too much about money. Utilities, like water and electricity, are notably cheaper than in many Western countries, food is unquestionably cheaper, and affordable public transportation allows you to move around the city and the country for next to nothing. Thanks to all this, it’s relatively easy to save money while working in China.

Opportunities are abundant
China is developing at an incredible rate, and with that comes an abundance of jobs. Lots of money is flowing into China and, as such, start-ups are appearing everywhere. In addition to this, many companies in China are working to develop their online and social media presence abroad. This is leading to new roles opening up for foreigners in China in almost every industry.

Skills advancement
Along with the availability of jobs for foreigners in China, many roles require employees to wear multiple “hats”, giving them the opportunity to acquire new skills. For example, a graphic designer might also work closely with the marketing and advertising team to develop a strategy instead of simply making the art. Or a TV news reporter might work to write and edit the scripts rather than just reading what they’re given.

Learning about Chinese culture & language
One of the biggest advantages of working in China is of course the opportunity to learn about a new language and culture. As China seeks to further open up to the world, your understanding of, not only the language, but also the mindset of Chinese people, will be extremely valuable to outside employers. Included in this is the network you'll establish during your time in China. Meeting people, developing guanxi and cultivating an open-mind towards the Chinese way of doing things will be valuable both personally and professionally.

CV boost
No matter what job you have in China, the fact that you’ve travelled to another country, found a job, and worked in a multi-cultural and multi-linguistic environment is going to impress any HR when you return home. Certainly, your professional experience is important, but the fact that you challenged yourself and sought new experiences says more about you as a person than your job responsibilities. Such experiences will be a clear advantage for a job that involves working with international clients or doing business abroad.


Culture clash
We’ve all heard this term before. Whether it’s the person sitting across from you on a date or your boss trying to explain why you’re just not getting it, the term “culture clash” is thrown around quite frequently in China -- but for good reason. Culture clashes can be tricky to deal with, as the way we respond to certain situations is usually so deeply ingrained we don’t understand why someone could do something any other way. In the workplace, this can be challenging, especially if you’re experiencing culture clash with your boss. Often learning to accept the differences is the only solution. Read this for more on the differences between Chinese and Western workplaces. 

Trouble fitting in
In the Chinese workplace, most employees are going to be Chinese -- go figure. As such, fitting in can sometimes be hard, especially if you don’t speak Chinese well. Even if you do, you might find you don’t really share the same interests or have shared common experiences with your Chinese colleagues. Learning Chinese will, of course, dramatically increase your ability to fit in at work though. Even stuttering attempts to make small talk will be greatly appreciated.

Odd hours
It’s well known that frequent overtime is common in the Chinese workplace. Although the law states that any hours over 40 per week should be paid at a rate of 1.5 x the hourly pay, that doesn’t always happen. More often than not, the extra hours worked during one week can be taken as personal time the next. On top of this, some jobs will require employees to work every other Saturday, and most jobs require employees to work on the weekend following a weekday holiday. It sucks, but that’s just the way it is.

Most Chinese companies, and this is simply speaking from personal experience, are run in a very top-down way. It’s very clear who the boss is and there’s a distinct order of seniority that must be followed, even if it sometimes seems illogical. It’s important to known your place in Chinese society in general, but this can be hard to swallow for ambitious and hard headed foreigners.

What other pros and cons have you noticed about employment in China? Tell us in the comments below.

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Keywords: employment in China


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