It is evident that China has become attractive to the global talent on an unprecedented level due to its economic size and vibrancy. This is supported by sources such as a report released on Oct 21, 2017, by US business magazine Forbes. The 2018 Global Talent Mobility and Wealth Management report predicts China will be a major exchange hub for global talent by 2022.

While the number of foreign students and talents coming to China is increasing, the competition in the job market is becoming more intense. Therefore, knowing what employers are looking for, your own strengths, and your possible weakness, is very important to increase your chance of being hired.


  1. Why do Chinese companies hire foreigners?

Chinese companies are expanding worldwide. Foreigners bring new perspectives, languages, business intelligence, and cultural understanding. For a company to be truly global, it must have a global staff. Hiring foreigners can be a strategic decision for Chinese employers. Due to the unique talents required, employers will also look abroad to find the industry expertise they need.


  1. What are Chinese companies looking for in a foreign employee? What can foreigners bring to a Chinese company?

For a foreign employee to contribute the most to a Chinese company, he or she must be adaptable, open-minded, culturally aware, and committed. Expat employees are expected to bring in new ideas and approaches to solve problems in their respective industries. They should also be able to integrate with the team or adapt their behaviors to match Chinese cultural norms for greater co-operation and understanding. Employers also appreciate when their foreign employees are committed to their role and willing to stay long-term, as opposed to leaving as soon as they receive another offer with a higher salary.


  1. What are some of the common mistakes that foreigners make when job-hunting in China?

The simplest one is not putting a headshot on their CV. In most western countries, photos are not encouraged. However, Chinese and other Asian companies do prefer to see candidates’ headshots.

Note that a beautifully decorated resume may leave a better impression. Chinese recruiters are used to seeing very professionally edited resumes. Try to perfect the presentation of your CV according to the characteristic of your profession to win over your employer. Looks are very important in China.


  1. What industries need foreigners the most in China?

For Chinese multinationals, foreign marketing/sales, staff are incredibly important. Candidates with digital marketing experience on foreign platforms are in high demand to help Chinese brands expand globally. Other industries where foreigners are needed include logistics, human resources, hospitality, information technology, and, of course, language education. Some companies prefer to hire native English speakers for certain roles. However, the skill and experience usually override language expertise.

  1. What can job seekers do to improve their chances of being hired?

Just like at home, job seekers can improve their chances of success by tailoring their CVs to the position they want, making a good impression at the interview, and following up accordingly. Displaying their adaptability, intentions to work long-term, and Mandarin skills in their interactions with the recruit manager will earn major bonus points!

The headshot still pays a major role in complementing the CV.



  1. What are the biggest challenges in working in HR in China?

There is a talent shortage in certain industries in China and recruiters’ biggest headache is finding qualified applicants with the industry expertise they require. As a direct result of the talent shortage, Chinese employers will compete for strong candidates by offering higher salaries/larger benefits packages. When employees leave for better packages, it creates a high turnover. That is why it is so important for candidates to emphasize that they are committed to the position when searching for jobs.


  1. What advice would you give to foreigners who want to get out of teaching?

Many good opportunities in the education sector in China span beyond English instruction. However, if you would like to change career paths, the job search process is similar to elsewhere – you can apply online (through online platforms like that features non-teaching jobs), search through a recruiter and apply on their local website, cold-call employers, or get a referral.

It is better to do this sooner rather than later, as employers in other industries may not regard English teaching as relevant experience. If you have professional experience in your field of interest or strong Mandarin skills, it is a good idea to emphasize those on your CV.


  1. What advice would you give to foreign students who intend to work in China?

Since 2017, foreign graduates enjoy more job opportunities in Shanghai, as they are no longer required to have two years of work experience before finding employment in the city. The policy introduced in 2015 allowed foreign graduates from Shanghai universities with at least a master’s degree to remain in the city for work.

Additionally, “outstanding” international graduates from Chinese universities outside Shanghai with master’s degrees or higher are able to work in the city despite having no work experience.

By outstanding, authorities mean students with an average academic score of 80 and above, according to a bureau statement.

Under the new policy, foreigners who graduate from Shanghai universities need only gain a bachelor’s degree if their future employers are in the Free Trade Zone or the Zhangjiang area.


  1. Are there advantages to foreigners who have HSK certification seeking jobs in China compared to those who do not?

Both foreign multinationals and Chinese companies are increasingly seeking candidates with, at the very least, elementary to intermediate Mandarin skills. Having HSK certification gives your employer a solid indicator of your level and shows your commitment to learning the language. It is an asset to any CV.

Even if the position itself does not require Chinese ability, being able to speak Chinese allows you to communicate with your team and (most importantly) your boss better, which might indicate more space for promotion. Additionally, it shows your commitment to learn and take up new challenges. Hint: It is perceived by the Chinese that it is not easy for expats to learn Mandarin!

Author: Enjoy Shanghai

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