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Lwd

How difficult is it to find a non-teaching job in China?

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Lwd

Hi everybody,

 

I'm from Europe and I've studied Chinese in China in the past, for about a year. I did forget quite some of my lessons though; my guess is that I'm only around HSK3 now. I know just enough Chinese to have some small talk and to get around.

 

I would love to work in China; I'm in the data analysis-field with a few years of relevant working experience and a masters' degree.

 

I understand that I'm a few steps behind my competition, because of course there are plenty of Chinese people aiming for similar jobs, who (unlike me) are fluent in Chinese. Moreover, the company won't have to deal with any visa-related trouble with them. On top of that there are also many other foreigners like me who have a similar wish.

 

  • Does somebody here have an idea how realistic it would be to land a job related to data analysis somewhere in China?
     
  • And does anybody have a suggestion for where to start looking, like a good website or perhaps another source with useful tips?

 

Thanks for any input :)

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mungouk

Searching for "data analyst" jobs in China on linkedin.com gave me 862 results just now... there are quite a few China-based recruiters on there too.  Your mileage may vary.

 

 

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Brian US

As mungouk pointed to, your best bet is to just start applying. Unless the position states otherwise, you will most likely be offered a local salary.

 

Have you considered looking at Western companies with a presence in China? That can be the safest bet to make a Western salary and get professional exposure to China. Although, you may only get the opportunity to travel to China if there is a need.

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道艺黄帝

I'm in a few non-English teaching job Wechat groups. Get the app and start connecting-there always seems to be new posts in the it/tech groups

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mungouk
4 hours ago, Brian US said:

As mungouk pointed to, your best bet is to just start applying.

 

Well, I was suggesting scoping out what's being offered first, rather than applying, but whatever works for the OP really.

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ZhangKaiRong
7 hours ago, Brian US said:

 

Have you considered looking at Western companies with a presence in China? That can be the safest bet to make a Western salary and get professional exposure to China. Although, you may only get the opportunity to travel to China if there is a need.

On top of if there is a need, it is also quite unrealistic to send off to China someone fresh. Such opportunities arise after some years under your belt at the respective company, and definitely not immediately.

 

I don't want to discourage OP, but chances are rather slim - data analysis is getting a hot topic in China and there are many students learning this at university, and my experience is that they are actually quite good on this field (unlike some other business analytics fields). Also, if the goal is to land a job in China, it is pretty hard when you are not present locally, as you can only front recruiters from international talent agencies, and not the companies themselves. Being outside of China means your guanxi with potential employers is way less compared to what you can achieve when you're in China. 
Being more senior and having better Chinese helps a bit. Your best bet is gaining more experience and proceed with your Chinese studies.

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Lwd

Thanks everybody for the responses!

 

I almost forgot about LinkedIn. I currently removed all my information from LinkedIn because for privacy reasons I hate that other people can see my work history. But if I start applying I will re-enter my resumé again.

 

The idea to work for a Western-based company that has an office in China and then hoping they will send you there has been mentioned by some friends and colleagues as well. But like ZhangKaiRong said, I find it hard to imagine they would send me to their Chinese office after only a short while working there, especially with my function.

 

I do have WeChat (despite the privacy concerns I actually enjoy it much more than WhatsApp haha), and I also heard of people using it to either find internships or meet friends, but I never know how to find relevant WeChat-groups. The few groups I'm part of, is all because someone else invited me. I'm always curious how people find relevant WeChat Groups. My friend from New-Zealand was in a Kiwi-group, my friend from Thailand was in a group full of Thai people, my French friend was in a group for internships for French people in China... Perhaps I should do some more research into this.

 

ZhangKaiRong thanks for being honest. I don't feel discouraged but I feel more realistic, if that makes sense. I still might give it a shot by applying here and there (also using the other tips given here), and see how things go, but at the same time I will also keep planning for the long term.

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feihong

You may find this article useful: https://supchina.com/2019/03/20/the-actual-worth-of-chinese-language-proficiency/

 

You shouldn’t necessarily feel discouraged, but if you want to work in China, you should plan ahead and understand that language proficiency on its own is not enough of a competitive advantage.

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thechamp

This is such a common topic on this forum there needs to almost be a permanent thread for it!

 

I can give you some quite good advice on this as I have done a non teaching job in China but am now back in the UK. I am a software developer though (but at that point I was in finance).

 

I have done some data analysis in R and Python whilst working as a postgraduate researcher in a university so am aware of that area and still do a lot of SQL and data manipulation.

 

I also keep an eye on the Chinese market but I think zhangkairong is correct - it's a weird move for a foreigner.

 

I think if you get something you will certainly take a pay cut and the days of expat packages where they pay for everything are almost certainly over (as in - they won't give you a housing allowance or anything. Or a relocation allowance. The local market is just so much better educated and competitive than 20 years ago - and most of them have done a masters or something abroad - so are effectively bilingual. 

 

Happy to answer any other questions but I think it would be a weird move and only advisable as a sort of 'lifestyle' move.

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Dawei3
23 hours ago, Lwd said:

privacy reasons I hate that other people can see my work history.

When looking for a job, your work history is important, particularly when you are an unknown person from another country.  However, you don't need list all of your jobs;  i.e., if you worked between your bachelors & MS, you don't need to include it (nor mention your year of graduation). 

 

Also, in addition to salary issues in coming to China, be sure that you can handle the different management style.  While no country has just 1 management style, in China you're much more likely to encounter a top-down style where you're expected to obey & follow whatever you boss tells you.    

 

This includes being available virtually any hour of the day, weekends & holidays included.  As a few simple examples, I had a 10:30 Sunday morning call scheduled with a friend in Beijing who does training for a large company.   5 minutes before the call she contacted me to let me know her boss had just scheduled a meeting and she couldn't talk.  At a Sunday lunch with another friend who manages investments, she explained she'd need to constantly reply to her boss's messages.  In both cases, there was nothing special going on in either company (no urgent issues), this was just standard for their Mon - Fri jobs (that are in reality often Mon-Sat jobs + Sunday)

 

You may have heard of the 9-9-6 work expectation, it is you work 9 am - 9 pm, 6-days/week.  This is common.  Some friends note they would be happy if it was ONLY 9-9-6.  

 

I mention this because many European countries have an excellent work-life balance (much better than the US).  In contrast, don't expect any work-life balance in China, except at foreign multinationals.  

 

The last part regards ethical work practices.  I'm surprised how often Chinese friends mention the lack of ethical work practices.  The one above who does investments is someone who never acknowledges anything bad about China (even when there is an obvious problem).  Yet, she shocked me when she said she moved to a US company because she couldn't accept the unethical behavior of Chinese companies.  I tried to find out what she meant, but because she won't criticize China, she wouldn't say anything.  President Xi has been working hard to fight corruption (and this is one reason he has high support within China), but there is still a long way to go. 

 

Hence, before moving to China, make sure that you would be comfortable with the above.  

 

 

 

 

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Lwd

Thanks again for all the responses and the effort everybody put in their messages; I really appreciate it!

 

On 1/7/2020 at 9:57 PM, feihong said:

 

Yes that was interesting; good to realize that just being fluent in a language won't necessarily land you a job if you don't have any other skills.

 

10 hours ago, thechamp said:

I think if you get something you will certainly take a pay cut and the days of expat packages where they pay for everything are almost certainly over (as in - they won't give you a housing allowance or anything. Or a relocation allowance. The local market is just so much better educated and competitive than 20 years ago - and most of them have done a masters or something abroad - so are effectively bilingual. 

 

Happy to answer any other questions but I think it would be a weird move and only advisable as a sort of 'lifestyle' move.

 

Yes this makes sense; there are tons of Chinese graduates who studied abroad, who are fluent in both English and Chinese, and who are extremely hard-working and intelligent. Why would a company even consider hiring a foreigner with all risks and difficulties involved (unless it was a Dutch company with an office in China perhaps, as I am from the Netherlands). I guess I still got a bit blinded by the deals English teachers sometimes get; I heard they pay at least 200 RMB an hour to students who have no teaching background, just because they're a native speaker (which is much more than I make an hour as a Data Analyst in NL). But that's of course a different industry where employers & customers have a specific preference for foreigners (which is not really justified I think, but that's a different topic).

 

Nevertheless, although I currently make plenty of money, I find my life here extremely boring and sad, whereas in China I always feel at home and super happy. On the other hand, this is either as a student or when on holiday; I know it'll be different when working full-time with long hours etc., but it's sometimes different to imagine how my life would be there when working.

 

2 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

 

Also, in addition to salary issues in coming to China, be sure that you can handle the different management style.  While no country has just 1 management style, in China you're much more likely to encounter a top-down style where you're expected to obey & follow whatever you boss tells you.    

 

Haha, this might become a problem; as you might know, the Dutch are internationally known for being extremely direct and honest :) https://www.amsterdamstay.com/are-the-dutch-a-rude-nation

 

2 hours ago, Dawei3 said:

You may have heard of the 9-9-6 work expectation, it is you work 9 am - 9 pm, 6-days/week.  This is common.  Some friends note they would be happy if it was ONLY 9-9-6.  

 

I mention this because many European countries have an excellent work-life balance (much better than the US).  In contrast, don't expect any work-life balance in China, except at foreign multinationals. 

 

This is a good reminder. You're right: work-life balance is excellent here. Working overtime is considered unacceptable, and employers offer many options to work from home or to work part-time, or to be flexible with start- and end-times when for example children are involved (I don't have children, but as an example). Moreover every year I get around 5,5 weeks of paid holiday, and then there are payments for my pension made by my employer. Finally, for every year I live in the Netherlands, I build up some kind of pension that you get from the government once you reach 67 years of age. The working conditions you describe sound absolutely horrible. And then there are the unethical work practices you mentioned.

 

Although I do know work-life balance and secondary benefits etc. are not as good in China as in Europe, I didn't know it could be that bad. I think I heard less horrific experiences from my Chinese friends, so I appreciate the warning.

 

@ All: I appreciate the respones. The conclusions seem to be:

  •  it is indeed very hard to land a job as a foreigner in China (in the field of Data Analysis) especially when you're not in China;
  •  being fluent in Chinese doesn't necessarily help you that much (and I'm faaaaar from fluent) (moreover, NOT being fluent will probably hurt your chances, obviously).
  • salary is probably lower than what I make currently
  • I cannot be direct and honest
  • I might have to face unethical work practices
  • I might encounter horrible working conditions (long working days, working in the weekend, working overtime, etc)

Funnily enough, despite the negative conclusions the idea is still in my head (although hopefully I'm a bit more realistic). I just keep thinking that this is the only life that I have, and it's ending one day every 24 hours. That might come across as depressing but it can actually be very liberating. Memento Mori, as some ancient European philosopher once said :)

Here my life is very comfortable, but also boring. For example, there are more people in Beijing than there are in my whole country.

Well, I'm not sure yet what I will do. At least I got some valuable tips for if I do decide to apply for jobs, and my expectations (both regarding difficult finding something and life if I would manage to find something) are hopefully more realistic now. Plus the helped me appreciate more the things I do have currently. Thanks again everybody!

 

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