Looking East? 4 Steps To Find A Job In China

Looking East? 4 Steps To Find A Job In China

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Find a job in China

China, the new land of opportunity.

Work in China
Due to the difficult job market in the West, caused by the ongoing economic woes in the EU, the US and other OECD countries, more and more young people around the globe are looking to China as the new land of opportunities. But how do you get started looking for a job in China, without any previous knowledge or experience? How do you find the right person or company that will get you that dream job in China?

At first sight, it can look like an impossible task. The feeling that you’re just a small drop in a wide ocean (in Chinese, you would say: 沧海一粟 – cānghǎiyīsù) might overwhelm you. However, by following the 4 steps described in this article, you will well be on your way to land that dream job in China that you’ve been looking for.



  1. Get started online​
  2. Find your China connection
  3. Intern in China
  4. Grow your local network
    Wrap up
    ​BONUS: Chinese, to learn or not to learn

1. Get started online

Jobs in ChinaWhen looking for job opportunities from abroad, you have to overcome the huge territorial distance and therefore the internet becomes your tool of choice. Job interviews over the internet are no longer an exception.

The majority of jobs in the global market go unpublished - so you can only imagine how many jobs there are available in China, but ‘hidden’ to foreigners. These kinds of jobs can only be found through personal connections, networking or interning; but we’ll get to those in a second.

As for the jobs that are published online, there are many channels available:

  1. Chinese job sites: search on Chinese job sites such as 51job.com, zhaopin.com, chinahr.com and matchdragon.com
  2. City-based websites: like The Beijinger, SmartShanghai and Shanghai Expat
  3. Websites of chambers of commerce list job offers of their corporate members. E.g.  American Chamber, British Chamber & German Chamber etc
  4. Websites of multinational companies very often have their own career section

2. Find your China connection

As mentioned above, most of the vacant job positions aren’t published online. In order for you to uncover hidden job opportunities, it is worthwhile to begin utilizing your personal connections.

  1. Spread your net wide
    Maybe you have family or friends already working in China? Or maybe family of friends, or colleagues of family etc… whatever the connection, it is always useful to spread your net as wide as possible. Ask around your personal network and spread the word that you want to find a job in China.  You never know what opportunities may come up just from asking around and talking to people.
  2. Reach out using LinkedIn
    If you have a LinkedIn profile (if not, go and create one), go over your connections (both 1st and 2nd degree) and ask for introductions to other people in China.
  3. Attend China events
    These events are usually organized by local Chinese chambers of commerce or China-related organizations. It would also be a good idea to attend seminars about China organized by universities and Chinese associations.

Additionally, you could consider contacting a headhunter firm. However, as headhunters typically focus on mid-senior level positions this channel is mostly not suitable for young job seekers.

3. Intern in China

Intern in ChinaDo an internship in China. Starting out as an intern will open doors for you that otherwise would have been kept shut or out of reach.
  1. You get your first professional experience in China. Compared to others, you will stand out thanks to your China experience
  2. You get a chance to build up a local network which might lead to new opportunities
  3. You get to figure out whether China is the right place for you before committing to a full time job
  4. You can acquire basic Mandarin skills on the side or build further on the foundation already laid while studying Chinese in your home country

To find out what internship opportunities are awaiting you, have a look at our Internship Offers page.

4. Grow your local network

The curious case of guanxi. The effectiveness of good guanxi (关系, connections), cannot be underestimated in China. 

Whether or not you have already found a job (or an internship), from the moment you arrive in China it is recommended to start building and expanding your personal networkWhen going to networking events and meeting people, first concentrate on informational meetings and building a personal repertoire. Find out what people in your target industry are doing and familiarize yourself with their habits and lifestyle. The goal is to gain referrals and information.

Always follow up after you’ve met people and thank them for their help. You never know what opportunities meeting them might lead to.


With over half a million foreigners living in China, it is a competitive market out there since many of these foreigners are also like you and out seeking job opportunities. In order to secure your spot and make sure you don’t miss out on opportunities, you'd better prepare yourself as well as possible. Preparation is already half of the battle.


Bonus: Chinese, to learn or not to learn

Learn ChineseKnowledge of the Chinese language is becoming more and more crucial to finding a job in China. The generation of Chinese students that went abroad to start their university studies are graduates by now. With degrees from renowned international universities and loaded with MBAs, these overseas Chinese high potentials are flocking back to China.

In addition to their mother tongue, Chinese, they have reached high proficiency levels in English and other Western languages they learned while studying abroad. Furthermore, with a true understanding of Chinese customs and having a profound knowledge of the characteristics of the foreign market, these returning overseas Chinese students are in high demand on the domestic job market. Taking this into account, you might want to work on developing or improving your Chinese skills in order to compete with them.

In any case, regardless of having those Chinese language skills or not, firms in China, whether Chinese or foreign owned, are looking to hire foreign employees.

Good luck on hacking that dream job in China!

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