It has become more common for westerners to look towards China for work opportunities. The last twenty years of rapid economic growth has lured those interested in Asia. Chinese employers also became more receptive to hiring westerners for their education and language skills.
In recent times the tightening of the labor market has changed the hiring experience of westerners. Increased weight is now given to expert locals or locals who have studied abroad than just the idea of hiring a foreigner. Westerners now face a more competitive labor market and are expected to prove their value. An important first impression is getting your resume right as you search for a job in China.
Westerners can be found in many areas of the Chinese economy but the largest percentage is employed in education. Many Chinese are willing to pay for themselves or family members to be taught English by a native speaker. As multinationals increased their presence in the Chinese market they brought in professional employees from abroad. Western lawyers, bankers, and engineers can be found mainly concentrated in the larger Chinese cities. Chinese manufacturers or joint ventures also saw hiring increase for experienced westerners. As knowledge transfers have taken place there is more local competition for classically foreigner filled jobs.
1. Where to find Jobs
Finding what jobs are available is obviously an important step in seeking employment. Westerners applying from abroad will be pleased to know that jobs are advertised online in China. The difference is that multinational companies will utilize more western oriented employment sites while Chinese companies will rely more heavily on Chinese affiliated employment sites. English speakers will be able to understand the western sites while a working knowledge of Mandarin is required for Chinese job sites. For westerners already in China job postings are displayed locally in the newspaper, expatriate oriented magazines, or local flyers.
2. Submitting Cover Letter
After a person has found a job posting they need to prepare a cover letter. This document should outline the general reasons for their interest and qualifications for said job. A job applicant needs to take time evaluate what specific skills are needed for each separate job post. A unique cover letter needs to be created for each job. Chinese employers expect you to get to the point quickly in your cover letter. State what you can offer and why in a concise manner.
3. Objective Section
Westerners commonly place a short job objective section at the start of their resume. For the Chinese market this is not as common. The cover letter is considered the appropriate place to put your objective and thoughts. You do not need to restate this on the resume. For multinational job postings it can be appropriate but not as much for more distinctly Chinese companies.
4. Biographical Section
In Asia it is common for employers to advertise job posting based on criteria uncommon to westerners such as by age or gender. Chinese employers could expect the first part of your resume to include things like your age, birthplace, and marital status. These details are in addition to other criteria determined normal for a westerner such as name, contact numbers, etc.
5. Resume Photo
Including a photo with your paper or electronic resume is becoming common worldwide and China is no different. You should have a professional headshot photo to include when submitting a resume. Make your appearance appropriate for the job. Some applicants will wear a coat and tie or female business suit jacket while others are more casual in dress shirt or simple dress.
6. Education Section
Lead your resume after biographical details and photo with the education section. Chinese employers will take a long look at the educational credentials of a prospective hire. Go out of your way to include all educational institutions you have attended from university onwards. It is also the section to include all educational certificates you have been awarded. This is a good place to impress Chinese’s employers who weight this heavily when making job offers.
7. Skills Section
A short skills section would be next after the education section. Read the job offer carefully and only put down skills relevant to the position offered. Evaluate which ones would impress an employer but don’t exaggerate your skills.
8. Work Experience Section
The next section is your work experience. Chronologically list your experience from your last job. List responsibilities that you had that would be considered value enhancing. Depending on your age you might have too little experience or too long a job list and must edit the jobs only relevant to the one posted. Be concise, to the point, and don’t embellish. Chinese employers don’t expect you to brag.
9. Organizational Experience Section
The last section in your resume can be any experience you have held in a position of responsibility. You can give employers an insight into what you do outside of work or tangent to work. Things like being the president of a local club or executive member of a work committee are examples of appropriate experiences.
If your resume has piqued the interest of a Chinese employer they will schedule phone interview. This is your chance to expand upon your qualifications. Some Chinese employers will hire you over the phone and begin the necessary paperwork. For more prestigious positions with larger Chinese companies multiple on site interviews will be expected of the applicant. Only after this period would a job offer be presented.
The job search journey starts with your resume. It is meant to interest a potential employer to contact you to find out more. Chinese employers will appreciate a straight forward resume letting the facts speak for themselves. The interview is your opportunity to expand upon sections of the resume. Use the above as a guide for crafting well written resumes for Chinese job postings.