A country, an idea, a dream come true, an exercise in patience. People who visit China for a short term rarely have the opportunities to really experience the incredible and many times, unbelievable, things that will happen to you while living here. Those that want to come live here very rarely have any clue as to what to expect or how to navigate their way to better jobs, apartments and places to buy the things they need. In this post I’ll look at how a person wishing to come to China to find work as a teacher can secure a decent job via the worldwide web.
How to find a job in China:
Step 1. Sign up to a few major job search websites.
Websites like the famous Dave’s Esl cafe, Serious Teachers and (my personal favorite) EChinacities are the starting place for all teachers who want to work as foreign teachers in China. Ensure that your CV is up to date and well formatted, and documents such as your degree certificate and/or any other relevant certificates are scanned and clearly visible when you open them on your device. Go to the above websites and create accounts, upload your documents and begin sending applications to all the jobs you want. They are free to register with and use and their databases are huge as schools in China are very well aware of them and use them as a main source of finding their foreign teachers. Cover letters are a nice touch so if you see a job that looks like the right one for you be sure to write one going into some detail as to why you’d be the best teacher for the job.
Step 2. Ask all the questions.
Seriously. Ask the person that contacts you about doing an interview everything you can. Questions like what salary range is being offered for the position, if the figures quoted are before or after tax (that actually makes a huge difference in numbers, I’m talking thousands of RMB worth of difference here), if there’ll be any extra duties or if you’ll be required to work on weekends or evenings. Things like how many sick days you’ll be getting and whether your insurance is paid for or not. Also, most importantly, ask about their disciplinary policies for teachers – deductions from your salary for punctuality/behavior/not turning in lesson plans on time? Ask about airfare reimbursement and housing allowance. Be extremely careful if they make a salary offer at the beginning of your talks and change it after a few days because you don’t have some special qualification or the other – that’s just untrustworthy and a real red flag that the school can actually afford to pay you way more than what they’re offering but being stingy to funnel the money meant for foreign teachers elsewhere (yes, that is a personal experience I witnessed and went through myself!).
3. Read and re-read the contract they send to you.
And do not agree to sign until you confirm that they can fully provide you with a Z working visa and something called an FEC (Foreign Expert Certificate) or an Alien Employment Certificate. Schools that are registered as such in China will provide teachers with FECs but places like language training centers and places designed for after-school lessons can’t hire ‘teachers’, only employ ‘trainers’ so their documentation requirements are slightly different. Furthermore, after you sign a contract no changes should be made to it. no adjustment of any pages, policies – nothing. I have heard stories of contracts being altered in front of the people who signed them. That is illegal, do not let anyone tamper with your contract.
Notes on recruiters
Once you sign up on one of the websites and keep applying for jobs, it won’t be long until you have recruiters calling you every minute to set up interviews. Always stand your ground and insist on what you want – they need you more than you need them. Teachers are much more in demand and much less available in China than other Asian countries. My partner Mustafa highlights some of the struggles he faces with recruiters on our current job hunt for positions in China in the video below.
When you are hired
Remember that you will not have your passport for a couple of weeks after you arrive, that’s how long it takes for the PSB in China to get your FEC. So, don’t book anything too far in advance or anything that you can’t cancel easily! Also, there will be an adjustment period that could be potentially difficult – give yourself at least two months before making any decisions as to whether you want to stay at that job or find another. With that in mind, don’t stop searching and applying to jobs until those initial two months are over. Most likely those two months will be a probationary period as stated in your contract and you could leave (or be fired!) with very little to no negative consequences for both yourself and the school.
In all, that’s a little bit from me and Mustafa on finding jobs in China. More posts on this topic will grace this website soon, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and we’ll get back to you, pronto! Good luck!