Working in China
A guide that helps you navigate the job market and build a career in China.
A Guide for Working in China as an Expat
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Are you interested in working in China? There are all sorts of opportunities for anyone who wants to work in China as an expat. While there are certain qualifications needed in order to work in China, these are often cleared without too many issues, especially when you are coming from a traditional Western country. Since reliable and engaging work is often scarce in most big cities in the West, why not try doing business China? You’ll find more options available and they’ll all offer you great wages for a job that makes you feel wanted and needed.
Navigate this article:
- Job Opportunities in China
- Find A Job in China
- Doing Business in China
- China Visa for Work Purposes
- Chinese Work Culture
Job opportunities in China
If you’re interested in getting a job in China, the first thing is learning how to scan the job opportunities in China itself to know what you’d be eligible for. As you may already have guessed, most hirings will prioritize local Chinese residents over foreign workers, but foreign workers also have many options that they are eligible for where local workers are not. Foreign job searchers are split into 3 categories. These are:
- Highly talented: Just like anywhere else, those with high levels of education and specialized education will be able to get better jobs. Foreign workers with high level specializations will enjoy jobs such as engineers, IT and accounting. These positions require foreign workers first and foremost.
- Educated: People in this category should at least have a BA or even as Masters degree. These people also are English speakers first and foremost. People in this category would be looking for jobs such as translators or English teachers in schools or adult learning centres.
- Standard: People within this category don’t necessarily have education in their background. It can often be hard to get jobs in this category because locals will always get priority. Common jobs include sales and retail work.
While foreign workers do need to compete with each other, there are many job positions available specifically for foreign workers.
Find a Job in China
What you’ll be happy to learn is that you can look for jobs within any of these categories. If you are someone who doesn’t entirely know what they want to do, you’ll find that the process — which will feel comfortable to any experienced job searcher — is designed for that.
The first step is to make sure that you are aware of your qualifications and what you can apply for with jobs in the first place (see the three categories above). You’ll also want to make sure that you get a criminal record check and also a work visa.
Once those steps are done, just focus on getting a job. Most people take a look at ESL, as those jobs pay well and are plentiful in China. You can also look at proofreading or editing English content if preferred.
Once you get to China and start getting experience. Network with locals in China online and use WeChat to make connections within the work trades that you’re looking for. From there, you’ll be able to climb the job ladder to get you to something, somewhere, that is going to feel rewarding for you. The first step is to get your foot in the door and then move up from there.
Doing Business in China
When you’re looking to really settle into a career in China and enjoy everything that it can bring you, there are going to be a few details to keep in mind when it comes to making it work for you long-term.
The first thing is to familiarize yourself with Chinese culture. This means understanding the differences in calendars, the concept of “guanxi” (your connections or business relationships), and simply the general way of life on a personal note and a commercial note as well.
The second thing is to consider the idea of pairing up with a Chinese business partner. This will give you an insight into the way of life on a business level and it can also make sure that you strike up a profitable relationship on both sides. Local connections are great and working with likeminded individuals is also helpful.
Since there are so many people in the world doing business in China, you’ll have to get used to really keeping an eye on the competition and making sure that you are doing what you have to do to stay ahead of the competition. This means making sure that you are trying to reach the Chinese market as well, not the Western one.
China Visas for Work Purposes
The last part of looking to work in China as a foreigner is to make sure that you’ve got the right visa to do so. Visas are given out depending on your qualifications and what kinds of jobs that you are applying for, so you’ll want to be familiar with this process before you start job hunting. The main kinds of visas are:
- Z Visa: These visas are for those who want to work in China full time in traditional job roles.
- J Visa: These visas are for journalists only and they want to work as a journalist within China.
- R Visa: This kind of visa is for those who highly educated within a certain specialized field and are applying for jobs specifically with this in mind.
- M Visa: This is a specific visa required for those who are looking to simply travel to China for a business trip.
- C Visa: This visa is reserved specifically for those who are going to be joking across international borders (ship or train or airline crew, for example) where the job is to cross back and forth regularly.
All of these visas have different requirements and lengths and these rules must be followed to make sure that you are allowed to stay in China and work.
Work Culture in China
The work culture over in China is slightly different than it is in the United States, or other parts of the world.
The workplace in China is a more collective environment than other workplaces, and Chinese people generally respect the authority a lot. On the other hand, you might be surprised to find out that things are much more flexible here in China, and changes are always in the air.
An interesting fact: you’re allowed and even encouraged to nap after lunch! Chinese people believe that you’ll be more productive after a nap.
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