Can Switching Jobs in China Affect Your Prospects?

Is your resume jumping from job to job like it's the Year of the Rabbit? During their stay in China, several foreign workers end up doing multiple different occupations. It's not wise to stick with a job you despise, but making too many career changes can scare off potential employers. Let's go further into the issues that need to be resolved while making a career change in China.

The question is, "Should you remain or should you go?"

A career in China requires careful preparation, just like any other job. If you don't get lucky and land a long-term, satisfying job right away, you may want to consider bailing out sooner than prospective employers would prefer. How do you know when to remain and when to leave?

Before packing up and leaving, ask yourself whether it's really necessary. Inquire about other openings before handing in your resignation. More impressive to potential employers is holding multiple positions within the same company as opposed to multiple similar positions held at different companies. In contrast, if you truly despise your current employer rather than your specific position within it and you haven't already jumped ship too many times, you might want to start looking for something else.

However, think things over thoroughly before acting hastily. Think about the kind of life you want for yourself in the near future. It might not be worth it to look for a new job if you plan to return to your home country within the near future. It's possible that employers back home will be more interested in the fact that you were out here in the first place than the actual work you were doing, since living in a foreign nation demonstrates that you are self-reliant and adventurous. Changing employment in China may be a major hassle (for details, see below), so choose wisely.

However, maybe you're planning on making China your permanent home. You may have a personal connection to this country via family or romance, or you may just like working in an international setting. If that's the case, it's a good idea to establish a solid work record and a list of domestic references to prove to potential Chinese employers that you're not simply a carefree tourist. Because so many recent college grads in China are actively seeking new employment opportunities, a job-hopping résumé is no longer a red flag in China. A applicant with a more consistent resume, on the other hand, may have an easier time landing an interview for a coveted job.

But, life is too short to be really unhappy at your job. There are methods to make job hopping work for you if you feel you genuinely need to quit and are certain you can obtain something better.

Making a resume/CV

Everything is not lost if you have been job-hopping more often than is healthy for you. In creating your resume, you should aim for minimal alarm and maximum fascination. It's common for people who often change jobs to give the impression that they were either unsuccessful at their previous position or that they're taking on too much responsibility too quickly at their new one. Your bulging résumé may make a potential employer worry that you will quit in a year, just as you have in the prior four. The important thing is that you can put a number on your accomplishments no matter where you are.

Jobs in summer camps and in the consulting industry are often thought of as temporary. If you have had any positions that lasted less than a year, you should indicate that they were temporary on your resume and cover letter, and be ready with a positive explanation of your short-term roles in case you are asked about them during an interview.

Some English teaching jobs only need a six-month commitment; if this is the case, you'll need to provide an explanation in your cover letter and during the interview. There's no guarantee that the interviewer won't presume you jumped ship before your prior boss could get you to sign a renewal agreement. Skeptics may conclude that you were let go because you were too tough to manage.

If you had to leave a job on poor terms but it doesn't play a crucial role in your professional narrative, you could choose to omit it off your resume altogether and explain the gap as time spent looking for work or studying. Sometimes the time off is preferable than having to explain why a job went poorly.

If you're determined to leave no stone unturned, consider how you may frame your career transitions to highlight the ways in which you've grown professionally and contributed to the organizations where you've worked. In addition, try to classify the jobs into categories. You may further give the impression that you did well in these short-term positions by offering recommendations before you are even asked for them.

People want to hear an explanation that makes sense," says syndicated career counselor Penelope Trunk on her blog. They would rather not hear that you are a failure, have poor social skills, or lack the ability to focus. Not every job will be the pinnacle of success, but a competent resume writer can make each one sound like it was, and that your degree of success improved with each jump as you took on more responsibilities.

Track the money to find the truth.

As usual, financial constraints should be taken into account. Make it obvious in your application letter and interview that you are looking to move up in salary from a lower-paying position, since this will make more sense to potential employers.

However, it is important to remember that changing jobs in China may sometimes be financially detrimental. If you decide to leave your position before the end of your contract's term, you may be subject to a financial penalty in the form of a percentage of your last month's pay or reimbursement for any visa fees you racked up. Your Chinese New Year bonus or stipend, if any, might be delayed if you depart before the holiday.

Visa hassles

Before accepting a new employment offer in China, foreign nationals should investigate their immigration status. Your new company may be able to assist you in obtaining the appropriate visa. Will they pay for all of the expenses? Do you require a different kind of visa? Do you have to travel back to your native country for processing? Consult a skilled visa agency if you have any questions. Before you commit to using their services, they are usually ready to provide you some free, informal guidance.

Keep in mind that your former employer may be reluctant to sign the appropriate documentation to transfer your work permit if they are upset with you for leaving. As a result, it's wise to depart on amicable terms if feasible.

All eyes will be on you

Too much job hopping can have both negative (fewer interview offers due to employers' concerns that you're flaky) and positive (more fulfilling) outcomes. There's no such thing as a "perfect" job, but if you can find one that's also challenging and engaging, you might not feel the need to look elsewhere. Give a guy a job he loves, and he'll never work a day in his life, says Confucius, China's most revered philosopher.

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