Top Tips for Job Hunting in China

Job hunting in China, for an expat, can be a daunting prospect. But with the right research and preparation, you can find the perfect job and enjoy the opportunity to experience a foreign culture and expand your career possibilities.

From experience, we’ve compiled a few tips to help the job-seeking expat ease into the Chinese job market.

Understand the Language

The language barrier can be a huge obstacle when job hunting in China. Make sure you’re familiar with the basics of the language – at least enough to do an interview and communicate in general. Chinese is a tonal language, so be sure to master the accent and pronunciations of the Mandarin language as well as the characters.

Also, depending on where you plan to work, be sure to know both traditional and simplified Chinese, as they are key to being understood by the majority of the population.

Know the Job Market

China’s job market is full of job openings across numerous fields. Before searching for a job, research the major cities and know what kind of job opportunities fit your skills best. Cities like Beijing and Shanghai are great for white collar jobs like banking, accounting, and software engineering. Other cities in the East Coast and Southeast coast such as Guangzhou and Hong Kong offer tech jobs and finance, but also concentrate in industries like logistics, travel, energy, and medical.

Be Aware of Cultural Difference

Practicing cultural properness and necessary etiquette is key when interacting with Chinese people. Speak respectfully, address people with their titles and surnames, and maintain a professional, courteous attitude. Confucian culture is also observed in China, so respect elders and practice proper behavior.

Be Ready with A Resume

Resume building is something of an art form in many cultures, with different styles accommodated. In China, a photo should be pasted at the top right of the resume, accompanied by contact information such as name, gender, date of birth, address and phone number. Hobbies and interests are not usually included. The contact information should be bright and clear, so be sure to print a resume professionally.

Search for Appropriate Job Listings

Finding the right job is a process that that requires research and patience. Start by leveraging online job postings from hiring websites like JobTonic,, and Jobsuch as well as expat-friendly companies like BDA China, China Extras and Human Resources China to help navigate the most current job openings.

Formulate your search into specialized categories and find job related to your expertise, then filter results with what city, industry, language and experience you have.

Prepare for the Interview

Prepare the right documents. There are certain requirements in what documents you need to show in an interview. This might include copies of certifications, degrees, mark-sheets, photograph, and copies of your top 3-5 previous job descriptions. Depending on the job, sometimes employers will ask for a health check as well as a criminal background check.

Be Ready With Questions

Interviewers are just as curious to know if you’re a good fit for the job as you are. Be ready with a few inquiries about the company and its future goals for the role can show your enthusiasm and gain insight into the employers next steps.

Expect the Unconventional

Be aware that employers will not always follow the conventional methods in an interview. Interviews in China are a means for employers to gauge potential employees and their strengths, so be prepared for Big Five tests, verbal assessments and other unusual tests.

Listen to Your Mandarin With Care

In a difficult job market where employers may have their pick of dozens of applicants, one small mistake could cause you to be out of the running entirely. In a Chinese interview, small mistakes can cost dearly, so be sure to practice good pronunciation and always remember to be polite and mindful.

Prepare for the Negotiating Stage

Negotiating salary in China can be a nerve-wracking situation. Before agreeing to a job offer, make sure to record the offered salary before negotiation. This can be used as a reference and may influence the employer’s final offer.

During the negotiation stage, take notes and ask for an extra break clause to make sure the balance of your contract is honored if there is a change in working hours or salary.

Look for Government Resources

China’s government offers an Employment Service Management System (ESMS), which is a free service for job seekers that has resources for a variety of employment review and job postings. This is a great way to find suitable job listings as well as job fairs.

Visiting government career centers and professional recruitment events can also be useful for finding jobs.

Know about the Work Environment

Be sure to research and visit the potential workplace to assess the morale and safety of the organization. Mistakes are common when job hunting, and when moving to another country. Knowing the work culture of an organization will prevent cultural misunderstandings and enhance relations with employees and your peers.

Be Prepared to Appoint an Immigration Agent

Appointing an immigration agent to help with an expat’s working visa is essential. An immigration agent can make sure that all the paperwork is correctly filled out by the time the applicant takes their flight to the foreign country.

Take Time to Know the City

Knowing the local city is essential when it comes to job hunting and relocating. Make sure to do your research for the place, its accommodation and its entertainment options. Knowing the city’s public transport system, the night life and the hidden gems in the area are espically important when relocating.

These tips will help ease the expat into the Chinese job market, helping create the best possible start. With the right experience, knowledge and preparation, applicant’s can ensure the Chinese job search isn’t an intimidating one.

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