International marketing talents recruitment: special session
Marketing Talents - China Opportunities
Helping Chinese companies locate international talents
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How to Find the Perfect Teaching Job in China
Beginning my time in China was a struggle through dozens of emails from potential employers and educational institutions all around the Middle Kingdom. In my quest for my first job in China, I had sent my resume to a large number of companies. As a result, I got a deluge of letters from others who were considering becoming involved. This may come across as me trying to prove that I am a better teacher than anybody else in the world, but in reality, I am just trying to show how many possibilities there are for aspiring Chinese instructors and how difficult it may be to choose the best one.
From my time spent traveling to and living in China, I have realized that it is crucial to I have a clear idea of why you want to come, (ii) have a thorough understanding of the nature of the position you are applying for, and (iii) check that it is suitable with your goals. To illustrate the significance of this, I will use examples from my own life and the lives of individuals I've met in China to draw portraits of the types of occupations that exist and the people who commonly occupy them. It seems that I have fallen into a trap that catches many others. So, I Googled "jobs in China." Being in England at the time, I tended to think of China as a single, undifferentiated mass of intrigue and opportunity. Just because I was given a job doesn't indicate it's the perfect position for me; I neglected to realize that the range of available employment was as broad here as it was in my own country.
A recruiter helped me get my first professional position. Everything went off without a hitch and was really simple. But I didn't really appreciate the commitment I was making. Just a few days into the work, I could see it was going to be difficult in ways I hadn't anticipated. To start, there was the actual physical place. Dawufeng was a little industrial slum (and I don't use that phrase lightly) located about an hour outside of Tianjin. Because I was at least an hour from any other laowai, I was the sole English speaker in town. My family life wasn't perfect, but it was nothing compared to the job I had at school. I worked at the area's secondary school and elementary school. Each course has over 40 enrolled participants. I had an English-speaking aide in elementary school but was on my own in middle school. The English instructors from China all had very limited language skills. The stress and sadness of the situation built up inside of me.
It became quite evident that the position at Dawufeng was not a good fit for me. However, this is not to suggest that a different, more suitable instructor, maybe one with more teaching experience or greater Chinese abilities, would not have appreciated the opportunity. A person's wants and what drives them are unique to them. I got myself into a precarious position because I couldn't get my head around my own. Knowing why you want to travel to China is the first and most important step in finding the right job for you once you get there. The following is a quick summary of the English as a Second Language (ESL) employment market in China and how it could apply to people considering a move to the Far East.
Let's begin with the first step, the public educational system. Vacation time and pay are the two most fundamental aspects to think about. In public schools, teachers may earn as little as $4,000 or $5,000 per year (a little higher in Beijing or Shanghai). Somewhat over the 10,000 threshold, universities typically have a student body of (both usually provide apartments as part of any package). Even if pay is lower, the vacation time that is on offer is generally much longer, including three-month summer breaks and extended time off during Spring Festival. Many - although definitely not all since I do not desire to generalize - of the instructors working in public education seem to fall into two types.
The first group consists of recent college grads who use their teaching position in China as a stepping stone to see the country. Due to their relative inexperience in the workforce, many educators value experience above money. Most tend to gain their employment via recruiters – much as I did – or through established programs, such as that of the British Council that puts teachers in schools across the nation. (Many of the agencies searching for this kind of educator include the possibility of local travel in their online job postings.)
The second category contains people focused more on making a difference and with a true dedication to education - maybe typically teachers in their native country. These are the kinds of educators who would have fared better in Dawufeng than I did and who would thrive in the country's most out-of-the-way locales.
Teachers drawn to this field are likely to spend just a limited amount of time in China. The contracts on offer reflect this reality. Some run just four to six months, covering only one academic semester, while others last a full 12 months and include round-trip flights home.
Now, let's move onto the private sector, which comprises local private schools as well as significant multinational firms offering language instruction and teaching. The pay is higher, but the hours are longer and the pressures are higher in this industry. Those seeking a more secure financial future flock to this industry.
People for whom teaching abroad is a profession or longer-term commitment are the first kind to be found working at big education businesses. Because of the enormous demand for English in Asia, several of these firms have expanded into multinational enterprises, allowing them to provide competitive wages and real career paths for their employees. Top-tier incomes may not quite meet western standards just yet, but they're coming closer thanks to rising exchange rates.
The opportunity to earn incomes that are more comparable to those on offer back home draws many experienced professionals over the age of 40 looking for a career break or a change of pace.
Many of the larger corporations seek one-year contracts from their professors. As a result, many persons participating are likely to remain in China for a longer period of time. This does not necessarily imply they will continue with the same firm since, just as in any sector at home, there is rivalry for talent. As instructors in China gain experience, they generally move up the pay scale.