There are some important dynamics that you should understand about the job market in China, and you will begin to quickly realize them as you pursue your internship there (or another form of employment). Peter Hill, Director of Career Services at HULT Business School in Shanghai, also known as 'The Career Doctor,' explains.
1. Competitive market
First, the Chinese labor market is a very competitive. There is lots of local talents in China today.
2. High attrition rates
One of the trends we are seeing is high attrition rates. What I mean by that is that local Chinese talent tends to switch jobs very quickly. The average young Chinese worker will change from one job to another, or one company to another, roughly every one year to 16 or 18 months.
One way to think positively about this is that it creates opportunities for you. People are moving around, that creates openings, and if you are aware of what is going on, you will be able to capitalize on those openings.
3. Employers looking for experience in China
It is important to know that employers are looking for talented young people who understand the Chinese market. The good news is that you are doing an internship, getting your foot in the door of the market, and you will be able to gain an understanding of how things work locally. That will give you an advantage when you start talking with employers during your job search. They will be looking for experience on the ground.
4. Lower starting salaries; equalisation with locals
Salary levels may not be on par with what you might be used to or expect in your home country, if you are coming from Europe, North or South America. We are also seeing an equalisation of salary levels.
There was a time when foreigners got paid quite a bit more, even talking about young professionals. But these days there is an equalisation where local professionals are earning more and more, rightly so because they are very talented. At the same time, the salary level expectation of foreign employees is coming down. So do not be surprised when you begin interviewing with employers.
The good news is that once you get your foot in the door and prove yourself, then opportunities for advancement, along with opportunities for higher salaries, will come more quickly in China than they would in your home country.
There are many new skills you can pick up during your internship and once you begin a career in China that will be useful for you, whether or not you stay in China.
5. On the ground experience will set you apart
Doing an internship in China will set you apart from all the other expatriate talent coming to China with no experience. Having on the ground experience is highly desirable, so the internship you are doing will give you that valued experience. Well done!
6. Responsibility may come faster
Young workers in China tend to get more opportunities than they would in other countries. We see a clear trend of young workers joining companies at entry level positions and quickly being given more responsibility once they have proven themselves. Along with that responsibility comes more money, usually, and also more opportunity for skill-building, whether it is problem-solving, improving your Mandarin or obtaining a richer understanding of the Chinese market.
This video is a free excerpt from the online course Managing Your Job Search in China as an Intern
The course covers critical topics such as tapping into the hidden job market, networking, interviewing tips, and much more - specifically for the China market. Highly recommended.
Also, take a look at these two online courses, which can make a real difference in your China internship: