Expats face pressure to stand out and land a job in China’s increasingly aggressive marketplace

Foreigners face more pressure to impress during their job interviews. Photo: IC

Jimmy Cheong, 24, one of the numerous international students in China, just landed a six-month internship after finishing a language program in Beijing. He feels very lucky; for foreigners, the language barrier makes applying for jobs quite an uphill task, worse if you don’t have much work experience.

Cheong landed an internship after many rejection letters. He said that foreigners have to be willing to put themselves out there if they want to stand out among the slew of applicants. They also have to follow up on their application as well.

“I called the company I sent my resume to a month later and recommended myself,” said Cheong, who was born in Macao but grew up in London.

His elevator pitch impressed the company so much that they called him for an interview later that day.

“My current boss interviewed me in person and tested my professional knowledge; I talked about my background,” said Cheong.

Cheong’s experience is very similar to that of many foreigners currently looking for jobs in China, whereas previously their international status would put them at the top of the list of potential employees, nowadays resting on country of origin gets them nowhere.

In fact, according to a 2014 BBC report, Chinese employers are now focusing on foreigners’ Chinese language proficiency, their understanding of Chinese culture and the overall cost of employing them over a local.

Chinese language proficiency is now a prerequisite in the increasingly competitive marketplace. Photo: IC
Chinese competition

Ben Brown, a 42-year-old American, has been living in China for nine years. He is fluent in Chinese and English, and regularly travels between the US and China.