Finding a job

How to find a job in China

Finding a job

The best way to find a job in China is by using personal contacts who work for a company in China that might need someone with your skills. If you aren’t blessed with such guanxi (connection), then the easiest way to find a job is via Internet.

There are plenty of job sites available for China. While American and multinational companies advertise heavily on , Chinese companies prefer to advertise their jobs on Chinese sites like ,  or . Some of these sites also operate in English, but the actual job postings are mostly in Chinese so you will need some knowledge of Mandarin to understand them.

If you’re already in China, you can also check out the classifieds in the English speaking magazines. Such listings are targeted at foreigners, but most of them are only for part-time or contract work.

Teaching positions in China

English teaching jobs are available at high schools, universities and at a growing number of private language schools. They are normally advertised via e-mail and telephone contacts, either by the school directly or through a placement agency. Some agencies match teachers with Chinese schools, provide pre-departure training and only charge a modest fee for this service. Other organizations only provide jobs with low wages or on a volunteer basis and charge quite hefty fees for insurance, training and ongoing support.

International teaching opportunities can also be found at major job fairs. Candidates need a government-issued public school teaching certificate and should plan on attending the fair to participate in on-site interviews.

English teaching jobs normally require that you are a native speaker and have an English teaching certificate like the TEFL (Teaching English as a foreign language). If you have a master’s degree this will not only increase your chances of finding a position but also your salary.

Job applications in China

The first step in your application is the submission of:

  • A letter stating why you are qualified for the job you’re interested in. Note that long cover letters are not very common in China, but you should at least explain why you’re applying for the job.

  • A resume or CV that should be roughly two pages in length. There are no formal rules for cover letters in China, but your CV should at least include some personal information, work experience, education, skills and accomplishments and career objectives. Note that the Chinese have a rather modest style of presenting themselves, so any “bragging” in your CV could quickly lead to a bad impression. Stick to the facts and let these speak for themselves.

  • Copies of your diplomas and other degrees. Given that education is very important to Chinese employers, you should attach as many degrees as you have to your application.

If the company or institution you’ve applied to is interested in your profile, the next step is likely to be a phone interview. If you’re applying to a major corporation you will probably also have to go through a series of in-person job interviews. As with any job interview, be modest but make clear your motivation and skills that make you fit for the job.

A word of advice: Before your interview put yourself in the position of the hiring company and ask yourself: Why would they want to hire you and not a Chinese person who is experienced, already knows the Chinese environment and probably earns a fraction of the salary that you might command? If you’re applying at an international company: Why should they not send an internal employee that already knows the company and the business to China? Answering these questions will help you understand your real market value and identify the companies that could have a reason to hire you.

Finding a job through an internship in China

Many people who go to study in China also work as an intern for a foreign company or a public institution. Internships in China are mostly unpaid, but they can often lead to good job offers, either at the company or institution with whom you did your internship, or at other foreign companies that generally prefer to employ people that have some work experience in China.


Of course you can also try to work in China as a freelancer or self-employed, but be prepared for some difficulties. The first difficulty being visa issues, if you are not yet in China and need a work visa it will be much more difficult to obtain if you don’t have an employer in China that can do it for you. A way to get around this is to either go to China as a student first or take up any job that will get your papers sorted and then try to switch your visa status once you’re in China.

Discrimination in hiring

If you’re from the US, you’re probably used to rather strict anti-discrimination laws and may be surprised by some of the questions you are asked by Chinese employers. Don’t be surprised to see a job advertisement like “Smart and sexy secretary wanted” (yes – this is a real ad on Just Landed!). Most Chinese employers require you to submit a photo with your application and many even state the desired age of their applicants.

Further reading

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