What if you could gain three years worth of work experience in one year?

What if you could gain three years worth of work experience in one year?

Many friends, former coworkers, clients and colleagues of mine have careers in China that have allowed them to take on levels of responsibility that they would have only been able to dream of in the United States or Europe. This includes a 21-year-old managing conferences for one of Asia’s most prestigious universities, a 23-year-old project manager for digital media marketing, and a 25-year-old who’s spearheading nationwide research projects about electric vehicles.

If you’re looking for a challenge and are able to rise to the occasion, a career in China might be perfect for you.

Interested? Here are three things you should know about landing a job in China:

1. You don’t have to be fluent in Chinese to get a great offer

Of course, fluency in Mandarin will expose you to significantly more opportunities. But if a job-hunter can be creative and develop his or her personal edge and unique value proposition to a prospective manager, not speaking the language isn’t a deal-breaker.

I know this because I’ve done it twice myself – landed jobs in China without speaking the language – and helped others do the same.

You do not have to be fluent because you can build or develop in yourself a unique edge that will help you get a leg up on your competition. For example, despite not being fluent in Mandarin, a client of mine was able to clinch a position with a boutique Public Relations firm in Beijing because he was familiar with Chinese social media platforms like Sina Weibo.

Similarly, many colleagues and clients of mine with backgrounds in engineering, law, and finance were able to secure interviews and offers for themselves due to their specialized skill sets and experience.

2. You are no longer special just because you’re a foreigner

There was a time, perhaps a decade or two ago, when expats could expect fat packages and kickbacks simply because they weren’t Chinese.

Those days are over. Today, millions of Chinese grads are fighting tool and nail for the same positions as you. Many of those candidates have equal or superior academic qualifications – and they speak both English and native-level Mandarin. A large portion of those grads also have no problem maintaining a lifestyle you’d likely consider unpalatable; it’s nearly impossible for foreigners to compete with them strictly on a cost-to-hire basis.

Furthermore, scores of expat professionals arrive in China every day with advanced degrees, fluency in Mandarin and highly impressive work experience. They’ve probably been in China longer than you, have larger local networks and have amassed a stronger and more valuable skill set specific to the China market. The specific skill sets they have will vary widely depending on the industry in which they currently operate and their positions within their companies. However, the fact that they have obtained this experience in China specifically will be a massive advantage for them when competing in the same pool as you.

Fortunately, with proper preparation, strategic networking and consistent use of unorthodox and highly effective strategies, you can edge out most of these people. Despite their qualifications, the vast majority of them have mediocre strategies for the job search.

3. Bad job-hunting advice is everywhere

The previous generation of China expat professionals had different advantages and challenges in the 1990s and previous decade than we do today. The need for their skill sets was more pronounced and there was significantly less competition, both domestic and foreign, for their positions. Simultaneously, they were unable to utilize the internet, mobile technology, and all the other platforms we currently take for granted in our job searches today.

Our generation today faces starkly different challenges in the job hunt, yet we also have very different tools at our disposal– like social media – to stand out from the crowd.

High-level management professionals are often out of touch – and may give you bad job-search advice – because China and its needs are changing so fast that what worked three months ago may already be obsolete.

Whoever’s giving you advice has probably not experienced being a Gen-Y expat job seeker specifically in the year 2012 – much less this particular month, in your particular industry, with your unique goals in your life and career. So before taking to heart career-hunting advice, ask yourself this:

“Has this person been in the exact situation I am in now?”

The answer is probably no – which means you can take some of their advice, but leave what doesn’t seem to apply.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Michael Park is an entrepreneur who has studied and worked in the United States, France, China, Korea and Thailand.


  1. 3 Tips for Landing a Resume-Building Job in China | Easiest Jobs To Get

    […] 3 Tips for Landing a Resume-Building Job in China […]

  2. Emerging Market Careers

    Linkedin is also a great tool that you can use to set up interviews abroad before you even book your ticket to leave, I’ve created a webisode about it here: http://www.emergingmarketcareers.com/how-to-get-jobs-with-linkedin/

  3. Mike Stankavich

    Michael, my experience as an expat in SE Asia has shown me exactly what you noted. Being a foreigner isn’t a significant advantage any more. Look for those unique skills that are in short supply on the ground, develop them, and talk them up as you market yourself.

  4. Anonymous

    What a total scam! $5000 for a consultation with someone who looks like he has never held down a real job in his entire life!!! How old are you???

    Nobody can promise you a job! This Michael Park guy is almost bordering on false advertisement. I bet this guy is a Anthony Robbins Tim Ferriss wanna-be trying to scam people out of their hard earned money so they can make “passive income” and not have to actually do work like everyone else.

    Buyer beware!!

    • Michael Park

      Hello Heromalakai,

      This is Michael Park, the writer of this article and the founder of Emerging Market Careers.

      Thank you for your response. This gives me an opportunity to clarify what I’ve built and why I think it’s important for the world.

      Throughout my experience abroad as an undergraduate and graduate student in Korea, China, Europe, and South East Asia, I’ve gone through the recruitment process countless times and in many different countries, contexts, and industries. In addition to this, towards the end of my masters program I was placing my friends and colleagues into apprenticeships and full time jobs simply by knowing how to navigate the Asia Pacific recruitment jungle as a foreigner.

      Thus, this is the value I bring to the table – analyzing a unique situation specific to a young professional who wants to break into a career abroad – then placing that person in their target industry. The recruitment process in the US, or similar developed nations, is daunting enough as it is. Imagine being thousands of miles away, not speaking the local language, and not knowing anyone in your emerging market destination – and then trying to start a new life and career there. It is immensely nerve wracking and many young professionals who otherwise would have been discouraged now have thriving careers.

      By understanding the local markets for expat jobs and the goals/fears of my client, I can develop a unique strategy to help them break into the industry and position of their choice. We do this through a combination of strategic networking, some clever social media hacks, and identifying pivotal decision makers who can assist us in our journey.

      I don’t claim to have decades of work experience, because I don’t. Moreover, this is largely irrelevant. I have never worked in event planning, automobiles, and digital media, yet I placed ambitious Gen-Y expats into these positions in multiple countries. My speciality is in the search and placement, and so far I’ve had a strong track record of satisfaction from the people I’ve worked with. I’m also glad to say that I’m very good friends with all of them and still keep in touch, assisting them with any issues they might have.

      It is important to note that I focus specifically on the Gen Y demographic. I do this because I’m acutely aware of their fears and aspirations – particularly in the context of studying, interning, and getting recruited abroad. I’m also painfully familiar with the grueling process of settling oneself in a foreign land and adapting to a strange work and business environment. I think that many of the largest challenges to a young expat breaking into a career abroad are generally similar across the board. My job is to not only place my generation into their ideal placements abroad, but also to assist them with other aspects of expatriation that might be otherwise insurmountable to a confused individual in an unfamiliar place.

      You are particularly upset with my most expensive consultation, which is priced at $5000. I’ve priced this consultation this high because I am offering my unlimited services until this person is placed – contract in hand, ink signed. With this consultation, both myself and all my resources, including my network, are available to my client. I am also extremely selective about who I take for this consultation and vet them carefully to make sure that they in fact have the right qualifications to get placed in their target positions. I focus solely on this particular client’s goal until it is reached – in addition to assisting with all the complicated and nerve wracking aspects of expatriation as a young professional.

      I do not sell myself on decades of experience working in a corporation somewhere. I am a service provider and entrepreneur providing results for results-oriented people – particularly those people who seek to launch a career abroad but do not know where to begin, who to ask, or how to proceed.

      I think the world would strongly benefit from a global workforce that better understands other cultures and can effortlessly work with each other. The level of conflict I’ve seen due to simple cultural misunderstandings in France, China, Korea, and Thailand is painful, to say the least. To solve 21st century problems, we’re going to have to be able to work seamlessly with professionals from other countries who speak other languages.

      My mission to help create more success stories in the international careers scene so that these conflicts occur less and we can begin focusing on what is really important.

      At the time of this writing, I am 25 years old.

      Good luck to you, Heromalakai, in your own career.


      Michael Park

  5. Sam

    I personally know Michael Park and your comments are misguided – I was looking for an internship during my junior year summer and his help placed me in a top tier consultancy in Korea. This is after weeks of floundering and not knowing how to get hired abroad – especially while I was still in the United States. This international work experience helped me in the job search and recruitment process back when I returned.

  6. Justin

    I worked with Mike when I was expanding my technology services company into Singapore. He was instrumental in helping us break our way into the burgeoning tech scene, rapidly build a strong network of clients and peers, and identity business opportunities that we otherwise would have overlooked. Your inflammatory comments are very much incorrect, my friend.

  7. Edumaritime

    Good article Michael. I agree with you
    Maritime Logistics Career & Jobs

  8. Anonymous

    This is the age of the Internet. You don’t have to debate whether someone is a scammer or not.

    Just check his LinkedIn: http://sg.linkedin.com/in/michaelparkemc

    Here’s what I can tell.

    He says he’s 25 years old and if he got a Masters degree, that means he just graduated.

    It’s pretty obvious that this guy has never held a real full-time job in his life. He also never worked for anyone longer than 6 months.

    Would I pay to get career advice from a guy who’s never actually worked in a full-time job or held down anything longer than 6 months? No.

    It’s also obvious from his resume that he’s just had a few internships and claims to be an angel investor yet he’s selling e-books on the Internet. That sounds bogus to me. Angel investors don’t go around trying to sell e-books online.

    The guy sounds like he’s severely stretching the truth in a lot of ways, so I’d also be suspect about any of his other claims.

    My overall view? I think the guy is a recent grad, inflating up some internships and interviews he had abroad, and trying to be a job placement specialist. That’s not a bad thing, but again, I wouldn’t pay for it since it’s also pretty clear he’s stretching the truth and doing the standard resume puffing.

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