Three things you must never do when searching for job in China
There are some common mistakes that most of the foreigners do when looking for a job in China. These errors start from the CV creation to how you apply for a job and what you say during a job interview with a Chinese HR professional.
It’s okay to make mistakes, but repeating them will only lead to frustration. I know it very well because I also made some of these mistakes by myself (and lost few very nice opportunities) until I learnt how to be a wise laowai. Let me teach you from my experience (and that of many other young foreigners in China) so that you never have to make the same mistakes during your job search in China.
On top of the long list of “never-to-do” things, three mistakes can cost you a job offer. If you make these mistakes during a phone conversation with HR or, even worse, during your personal interview, you can simply say goodbye to this career opportunity.
Mistake 1. “Prove that you are not a scam!”
It is true that there are many scam schemes running in China, everybody knows it. So we do understand why there are so many innocent Western young professionals getting scared when thinking of working in this country (even though, despite being scared, they are dreaming about this land of opportunities). On the other hand, imagine yourself being the employer in this situation. Would you be pleased if somebody called you a scam?
There are many serious companies in China, large and small, and their staff (including HR managers and CEOs) have dignity, they are proud of being part of the team. Can you imagine how rude it is to ask them for proof of their seriousness? So be wise and take this advice: if somehow you have doubts about the legal status of a company, then ask your questions politely and respectfully.
Let’s say you have requested their company business license, and they have sent a copy to you, but you still have some doubts. What’s next?
“You know, I saw your business license, and there are a couple of things that make me think you are a scam. So either you give me a clear explanation, or I stop all communications with you”.
“I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with the China Law and business culture. According to my country’s law, there are some details in your business license that may raise questions. I would really appreciate if you found some time to clarify these issues for me before our next interview”.
Try not to live under the impression that everybody in China will want to hire you just because you are a Western person. That’s not true. Chinese people can be very kind to you and forgive many mistakes because you are not accustomed to their laws. But business is business, and nobody wants to work with an arrogant and ignorant person, so make sure that you don’t leave this impression.
Mistake 2. “Is this your offer?! I would make more money teaching English!”
Teaching English as a second language in China is a unique example of moneymaking downshifting. If you are a native speaker, you don’t even need to be a qualified teacher to earn a significant amount of money and other benefits such as free accommodation, free meals, insurance, etc., while working in China. You can open any TESL job at laowaicareer.com to see the package. If you are not a native speaker, then you may need to study for a little while and get some certificates, but after that, you can enjoy almost the same benefits as a native speaker. It is logical that such conditions make English teachers in China live under the impression that they are in high demand and that they can get all these benefits outside TESL field as well. If you can do a nonqualified job and make nearly 3000 USD per month, including free meals, accommodation and transportation allowance, it means that when you apply for a job in your field of expertise, with your Western High Education Diploma, you can make much more, right? Actually, no. You can’t.
Most of the job vacancies for young foreign professionals that are not fluent in Mandarin offer an initial wage of 8-12000 RMB (1200-1800 USD) per month. For more experienced professionals with good spoken Mandarin skills, the offer may range between 15-20000 RMB (2300-3000 USD) per month. A start wage of more than 3000 USD is for highly skilled experienced foreign professionals who are fluent in Mandarin.
So if you are a young specialist who doesn’t speak Mandarin, and you tell a potential employer that you would make more money teaching English, the chances are that you will be advised to go and teach English then, before the phone hangs up.
Therefore, if what you are looking is a career opportunity and not just moneymaking, you need to learn how to be wise and do a little research before losing an excellent opportunity.
Mistake 3. “Before I spend my time for an interview with you I would love to know what package you can offer.”
Most of the candidates from US and Europe make this mistake (unlike Japanese job seekers, for example) because in their countries it is normal to know exactly how much an employer can offer before the job interview. In the Asian culture, things are different. If you don’t want to seem rude or ignorant, don’t ever talk about salary expectations until you are asked about it.
So what should you do to avoid wasting time with job interviews that don’t meet your salary expectations? It’s simple. Just include a reasonable salary in your CV. If they call you, it means that they can meet your expectations. Chinese employers are not going to waste time interviewing potential employees they can’t afford.
But you should know that the wisest job seekers in China never put salary expectations in their CV (excepting situations when such information is requested). They wait to see how the interview goes and then make their own decision based how much they would like to work for a company.
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