Working in China
Overall, competition in China is intense, with over six million Chinese graduates entering the labour market each year. Chinese employers value paid work experience, but also university ranking, which puts Imperial graduates in a comfortable position.
Job hunting in China
Schemes aimed at Chinese students
There are a few organisations in the UK which run schemes either specifically aimed at Chinese students or which actively encourage applications from Chinese students. Some of these schemes involve a training period in the UK lasting a few months to three years, with the expectation that at the end you will return to work for one of their businesses in China.
Graduate training schemes in China
If you are looking at large, Western multinational companies, you will find that many follow a similar process to those in the UK. Occasionally recruitment will be handled by their UK office, but in most cases, recruitment is undertaken by the head office in China or their regional Asia-Pacific head office. Recruitment usually begins early in the autumn with a view to the new recruits starting in summer the following year. Some first interviews are conducted by telephone.
Recent graduates have used large recruitment agencies such as Manpower to get jobs, but you could also look at smaller, specialist agencies such as Wang & Li in Beijing which focuses on bilingual candidates.
Networking - 'Guanxi' - is very important for job hunting, as most vacancies are not advertised. Make sure you join the Imperial China alumni group which has a bulletin board that often displays job postings. Keep in touch with the contacts you have made at Imperial and at previous universities: they may know of upcoming opportunities. Some organisations run ‘referral’ schemes whereby existing staff can recommend individuals.
Careers fairs can also be an effective way of looking for jobs. The Imperial College Careers Service is involved in running careers fairs in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai aimed at graduates looking to work for multinational companies. The Hong Kong Fair includes organisations such as UBS, RBS, Macquarie, KPMG, Fortis, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Capital Group, Bloomberg and Barclays Capital. Chinese universities hold careers fairs from October to March and in many cases you can buy a ticket to attend. Check university websites for details.
Which transferable skills are needed by employers?
According to a survey undertaken by the University of Manchester Careers Service of 55 employers in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, the top five most sought after skills are:
• Communication skills (including English)
• Problem-solving ability
• Analytical skills
• Leadership skills
Additionally, to ensure that you pitch yourself correctly, be aware of some of the preconceptions employers may have of you. As a returning Chinese graduate, employers will have both positive and negative views.
On the plus side...
- You’ve graduated from a top school - academically you are a strong candidate
- You’ve got international experience and, if you have gained work experience while here in the UK, an understanding of how international business operates
- You are fluent in both English and Mandarin
- You are likely to have well-developed soft skills
On the minus side...
- They may think your salary expectations will be too high and that they can’t afford to pay you
- You may be perceived as ‘over-confident’ with unrealistic expectations
- If you haven’t lived permanently in China for many years they may be concerned that you will find it difficult to perform or get results as you lack an understanding of the local market
Having a clear idea of what you have to offer an employer and what they are looking for will make you a much stronger candidate in the marketplace and will enable you to sell yourself more effectively on your résumé, application form and at interview.
Your résumé should be short and clear and no more than two sides long. Start by describing your educational background, followed by professional experience. Emphasise the things employers will be interested in and the particular skills they are looking for. You can attach a cover letter explaining why you are interested in the job and detailing the qualities you have to offer, although this isn’t essential.
Creating relationships is still an essential aspect for your job hunting in China. You might like to use social networking, such as LinkedIn for joining interest groups and for your networking, such as China Job Opening, Career and Opportunities. You might also find the Careers Service handout about Networking of interest.
- Graduate Prospects - country-specific profile for China
- Graduate Prospects - international jobs - searchable database of jobs outside the UK
- GoingGlobal - international career and employment information (full version via Careers website)
- Imperial Alumni - worldwide membership of over 150,000 Imperial alumni
- Hudson - Chinese labour market information
- British Council in China - the UK's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relationships between people in the UK and China and to increase appreciation of the UK
- Study China Program - managed by The University of Manchester and funded by the department for Business, Innovation and Skills, all tuition and accommodation fees are paid on your behalf, you finance your own travel costs
The following links connect to directory lists of individual employers in China.
- General company directories
- Banks, central exchanges, law firms, media and information providers,
governmental and non-governmental sites, and trade associations