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Ask Slashdot: Find a Job In China For Non-native Speaker? 402

An anonymous reader writes "My fiancée has recently been accepted into a Chinese university into their Ph.D. program, and I've been looking at jobs in China (specifically the Beijing area) and not having any success. I'm a developer with 8 years of experience (java), mostly on the server side, so I'm not lacking in the general experience, but the problem is I don't speak Mandarin or Cantonese. I am a native English speaker from Canada though. The only jobs I've had any responses from were teaching positions for simple English which isn't exactly my first choice. Has anyone had any experience or success as a programmer finding a job in China, without being able to speak the native language? Any websites I should be focusing on?"
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Ask Slashdot: Find a Job In China For Non-native Speaker?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:09PM (#40144563)

    That's what people who can't speak the language do in the US.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:17PM (#40144679)

      That's what people who can't speak the language do in the US.

      Wow. If you are going to be racist, you could at least make it fit the situation. You could have said he could get a job getting things down from the top shelf.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:21PM (#40144753)

        Hard to claim racism when no race is mentioned in the question or the answer, only language, though I do see where you're coming from. That said, the GP has a point, even if it was not made in the most politically correct manner. The fact is, in any country, if you don't speak the language, you're going to have very limited options. Generally those options are going to consist of jobs that don't require much in the way of communication, as in more manual labor, less office work. This isn't a product of racism, it's a product of "you can't get a job that requires communication if you can't communicate with the people you'll be working with".

        • by courteaudotbiz ( 1191083 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:37PM (#40145007) Homepage

          Hard to claim racism when no race is mentioned in the question or the answer, only language, though I do see where you're coming from.

          How would you call that? Languagism?

        • by Gideon Wells ( 1412675 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:21PM (#40145713)

          Maybe race wasn't intended. Construction and landscaping is stereotypical illegal immigrant work, and when people think illegal immigrants they think Latinos. It still raises eyebrows when you talk about dropping off orange soda and KFC to an inner-city homeless shelter even if you have a ton of soda and KFC left over from your nephew's birthday party. It wasn't your fault if they ate all the pizza and drank all the Coca-cola, right?

          I won't deny you don't raise some relevant points. It is going to be an up hill battle unless he starts learning Mandarin. Even if he telecommutes or freelances online to English speaking areas he'll be isolated locally.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          WTF isn't politically correct about pointing out that people who can't speak English do landscaping and construction. They also wash dishes and mop floors. You people really are mentally stunted if you see that as 'racist' or 'incorrect'. It's just the facts on the ground. What a bunch of retards.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How is this racist?

      • first you have to get the construction job to build the too-high shelves. I would imagine that the current ones are built to fit. After you create the problem, then you can charge big bucks to be the solution.

      • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:04PM (#40145415) Homepage Journal

        What about round-eye gigolo, with a giant "proposition"?

    • by tonywong ( 96839 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:47PM (#40145159) Homepage
      You might have a hard time getting a visa, given the anti-foreigner sentiment right now. The Chinese government has been inciting this anti-west mentality since the Bo and Chen fiascos have come to light. Also CCTV's Yang Rui's rant has inflamed public opinions as well as the recent sexual assault of a Chinese woman by a UK man caught on video and another train incident has meant things are quite tense right now.

      I just came back from China on a vacation last month but the visa application was way more stringent than before. I had to give them proof of my Canadian citizenship and also send them a resume (wtf!). They obviously thought I was going to try and find a job there against a tourist visa, so definitely something's up.

      As to your problem about finding a specific job, without language skill the OP is right, it's labour for you, and there are already (too) many backs in China that can do that. Learn the language first.
      • I had to give them proof of my Canadian citizenship and also send them a resume (wtf!).

        Standard for many countries. The resume is to show you have a reasonable work history and can support yourself. In other words you are not an economic migrant. My girlfriend is having to do the same, and show them some of my pay slips to prove she will have somewhere to stay and enough money when she visits the UK for a holiday.

        I have not noticed any anti-foreigner sentiment, or at least no more than any other country. Tourism brings in a lot of money. If you want to work there though that is different, you will be expected to integrate with Chinese society.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Fuzi719 ( 1107665 )
        I'm about to go to China and I had no problem obtaining a tourist visa. I requested a 90-day stay, 1 year, multiple-entry visa and it was granted without any issue. I did not have to provide anything extraordinary other than an invitation letter from my friend who is letting me stay in his home. He tells me that, at least in Shanghai, there is nothing to be concerned about. Every time I've gone to China I find the people to be exceptionally friendly and welcoming.
        • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @04:02PM (#40147287) Homepage

          Shanghainese and the cantonese are generally friendly toward westerners. Every place else is a crap shoot. My wife is from Shanghai, so I've been to about every major city by train or plain when spending time overseas to visit her family side.

          Oh, and whatever you do. Do not dress like a thug. The police won't have it. Those people do profile. Rightfully so I might add.

  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:11PM (#40144587) Homepage Journal

    Have you considered working as a coder-for-hire at either an established firm, or on a do it yourself basis from one of the many websites available (Google can show you the way)? The pay might even be better, unless you were particularly interested in exploiting your language talents in the local labor market (which it sounds like you may not be).

    • You won't get far w/o Chinese language. I applied for a TEMP job in Japan, only 100 miles from the just-exploded nuclear, when they were having trouble finding workers, and still didn't get it. They said it was lack of japanese.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think the OP is going about this the wrong way. I have worked for companies which have had medium sized international presences (small to medium offices in 10+ non-North American companies). Our biggest issues there were with language barriers. When you have heavily accented folks on an international conference call alot of things get misunderstood, however when you are face to face the misunderstandings are fewer and farther between... So I would attack this problem in reverse. Target Canadian or US

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:12PM (#40144609)

    Any websites I should be focusing on?"

    This one [].

  • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:12PM (#40144611)

    Maybe instead of trying to find a coding job, find a job along the lines of "conversational english for IT type people"...

    Help your fellow coders bring up their communication skills...

  • Find something with a US or other predominantly English-speaking company that allows 100% telecommute work. Most development jobs can be done remotely, but it's up to the company whether or not they are comfortable with that.
    • Find something with a US or other predominantly English-speaking company that allows 100% telecommute work.
      Most development jobs can be done remotely, but it's up to the company whether or not they are comfortable with that.

      To that point, the real opportunity in this sort of situation would be to get a job at a firm that was US based (or at least anglo-centric and accepted English as standard) but also had a branch in Beijing for outsourcing (although Beijing isnt really an outsourcing hotspot anymore). If he could score that, he could probably manage a team of coders who had little/no english (with the help of a dedicated translator or bilingual coder.) But, it doesn't seem like there is a section for that kind of work on M

    • Just curious. Do Chinese telcos allow for firewall connections into foreign (read Western) countries? That could put a crimp into remotely logging in.

  • by JonahsDad ( 1332091 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:17PM (#40144685)
    Had a friend that was in Shanghai for about a year. Worked for Rockwell []. So a US/Canana/UK based company that has a Beijing office might be your best shot.
  • OH my... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ( 2589739 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:17PM (#40144687)
    You don't want to go to Beijng. Trust me. I've been there for 3 months until I developed asthma. The air pollution is INCREDIBLY bad, you can't even remotely compare it to the worst cities in the US. That being said, there are a lot of 'western' companies where English is used for every communication. I know, because I worked at three. I strongly suggest that if you go there, look out for those western companies. They pay better and have a much nicer working atmosphere than the local companies. But seriously, If you care about your health at all, or eating manners of your peers, or respect for (animal) life in general, stay in Canada. It's such a wonderful country.
    • Re:OH my... (Score:5, Funny)

      by busyqth ( 2566075 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:25PM (#40144821)

      You don't want to go to Beijng. Trust me ... If you care about ... respect for (animal) life in general, stay in Canada.

      The Chinese have a very deep respect for life and know how to treat every kind of animal appropriately.
      For example, rats are roasted, scorpions are broiled, snails are put in noodles, cats make a good soup, and minnows are best slurped down live with some rice wine.

      • Re:OH my... (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:38PM (#40145015)

        My Chinese brother-in-law put it this way to me.

        An American man will see an animal he has never seen before and say, "What is that? Can it hurt me?"

        A Chinese man will see an animal he has never seen before and say, "What is that? How should I cook it?"

        • Re:OH my... (Score:4, Funny)

          by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:21PM (#40145705)

          Your Chinese brother in law needs to get out of American cities.

          'How should I cook it?' is the default position, world wide. Try the possum it's good.

          I fed a bunch of morons (like the sib AC) beef marinated in Oyster sauce. Told them it was dolphin after they ate some. Good fun, two made themselves puke, claiming they were going to take the puke in for testing and send me to federal prison. I hope they did. I hope it cost them lots of $$.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by OhSoLaMeow ( 2536022 )
          A Massachusetts governor will see an animal he has never seen before and say, "What is that? Can I tie it to the roof of my car?"
  • by InvisibleClergy ( 1430277 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:18PM (#40144707)

    This summer -

    Too long have the Chinese taken our good, American jobs. The time has come for Anonymous Coward to go to China...


    (Coming to theaters Summer 2012.)

  • by sirwired ( 27582 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:19PM (#40144715)

    I think your prospects of finding a local job are dim. You are no more likely to be hired there as a programmer there than a non-english-speaking coder would be in the US. It looks like you are an IT programmer, and quality IT programming is all about understanding business requirements well. You can't even read the business requirements, much less understand them. And no company is going to pay somebody to translate for you when they can just hire a local coder instead.

    Concentrate your efforts on an English-speaking coding job that will let you work remotely. You may end up on a lot of middle-of-the-night conference calls, but you'll be better off than being an "English Teacher."

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:19PM (#40144717)
    In Canada, how many developer positions are filled by people unable to speak English or French? Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect to find a development position in any country where you can't speak the predominate language. OK, there may be cases where this works in Europe or India where English is often used to communicate between people of different regions. However English is not used in this manner in China.

    Perhaps a more realistic plan would be to find a company that does outsourcing or otherwise deals with clients in the US. They may need someone to be a technical contact of some sort.
    • I am told by the French that there are _no_ people in Canada that speak proper French.

      As an American I will say they speak the 'Canadian' dialect of English.

  • by Murmel84 ( 1033852 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:19PM (#40144729) Homepage
    Hey, I spent some time in Nanjing last year trying to find a good job. Because I speak Mandarin fluently, I thought it wouldn't be a problem. I didn't want to teach because I still wanted to improve my Mandarin by speaking with colleagues. But the only jobs that were easy to find as a foreigner (even non native) were the English teaching jobs. And most of them are better paid than IT positions in Chinese companies! That's why Chinese people will assume that as a foreigner, you don't even want some other kind of job. That and the fact that English teaching is a big big industry there and they need every foreigner they can get. I finally only spent the time there improving my Chinese. If I ever wanted to find a job there again my new plan would be to find a multinational corporation to work in and then get myself sent to China to work there. That way, the salary is way better and you can still work in IT. Cheers, Murmel
  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:21PM (#40144765) Journal

    Screw the programming job, I suggest you hire yourself out as a technical manual writer or proofreader. I don't care how much they pay you, you should consider it a service to your native land.

    • Seriously - I think you could get some mileage from this suggestion. You'd want to market yourself directly to a bunch of companies and point out the value of improving their manuals and other customer documents. Offer at least 2 levels of service: (1) just read and correct the manual without learning what it covers in detail (e.g., the way you could correct it now by just reading it), (2) same thing but learn from them what the actual process/usage is in the manual. You'd need a translator yourself for par
    • Re:Are you nuts? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:50PM (#40146219)

      I emailed a company in Shenzhen a couple of years ago, asking if I could do an internship as a CS major. They said yes, and when I arrived they had me working on improving their perception in the eyes of Westerners generally. I re-translated technical manuals (Chinglish to English) and re-wrote whole sections of manuals (they were awful) and did some prototype testing. They really wanted me to come back full-time after school, but I got an offer from a US firm that I couldn't refuse.

      I had a great experience, but the company was "different" by Chinese standards. It was a start-up, created by younger (sub-30) engineers who were creating original, high-quality work that they were proud of. They were not owned, in any part, by the Chinese government, which gave them a significant competitive disadvantage within China, but their product was recognized as top-rate outside of China.

      If you can find something like this, you might even offer your services at a discount in the short-term. After getting to know you, these newer companies will see the benefit of having a seasoned outsider. Don't plan on writing much code, though.

  • Language consultant (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:22PM (#40144771)

    The only jobs I've had any responses from were teaching positions for simple English which isn't exactly my first choice.

    Wrong bzzzzzt. Thats like a CIA trained chef looking for work and applying at McDonalds (which only hires illegals and non-english speakers, so maybe its a closer analogy than you'd think?). A /. analogy would be hiring a CCIE to pull cable.

    The way to roll in dough is to download a large chunk of github, write a very short shell script that parses out comments, and develop a curriculum that trains the natives to understand our crappy comments, and possibly how to write non-crappy english language code.

    I always laugh when I "view source" on a web page and see its full of hindi comments, or even worse a pitiful attempt at english language comments.

    Position yourself where the natives already had "how to ask where is the bathroom in English" classes and they already know java like you claim to know. Now your carefully designed one day / three day / one week seminar will be hired at the local equivalent of $1000/day to teach Chinese java coders how to read english comments and write english comments. Also touch on the comprehension and creation of vaguely english variable and class/object/file names.

    You may only get hired a couple times to teach at a couple shops, but you'll make a couple hundred contacts who hopefully will think you know what you're doing, which leads to coding contracts, coding jobs, etc. Also frankly it looks cool on the resume when/if you come home, cooler than yet another "implemented a shopping cart online" blah blah that everyone locally has done a zillion times.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You know how people love to complain that if you expect to come live and work in America, you should have to learn to speak English? Same argument applies.

  • expat forums (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:24PM (#40144809)

    maybe you can try the hundreds of different expat forums?

  • Look, I know you said that you don't want to teach English. But the value, to other people, of your native English ability is really high. Why don't you just give it a try? You can always try to split 50/50 between teaching English and learning Mandarin. After a year or so, when you're functional in Mandarin, look for a job in programming again.

    Be wary about the company you work for, though. I've some friends (and heard a lot of stories) about people who go to China promised certain pay and certain be

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:29PM (#40144873)

    I spent almost a year traveling China and working as a software developer / Business guy. Looking for jobs in china is extremely different in China then it is in the US. Here is the US you can call head hunters or work the job boards... China is all about who you know. I would say that your best bet is to go over with your fiancée and immediately start networking with the professors. Ask them out for dinner (this is normal) and start talking to them about what are come good companies in town. Make sure to pay for dinner and always have a small fun gift for second and third meetups.

    After meeting a couple good business people around town I had almost an endless supply of work where people wanted me to come and do contracting for a couple months. During the day I would code or do project management and then at night I would drink and do dinner with my bosses. (NOTE: Never turn down dinner or drinks with fellow workers or bosses... Socializing is a HUGE part of business over there)

  • You can proofread documentation. so you don get the following.

    Insert batteries in the proper way, happy fun is achieved! Do not go!

    Or pretty much everything you see on this site full of examples.... []

    OR you can do tech support, China companies would KILL for a native english speaker to sit in the call center and answer angry phone calls.

    • You can proofread documentation. so you don get the following. Insert batteries in the proper way, happy fun is achieved! Do not go!

      I've worked as a translator and proofreader for some years and I know where there is a market and where there is not. If companies were willing to pay for better English, you wouldn't see such instructions. But profit margins are low enough, and the cost of hiring a native speaker high enough, that companies are generally not willing to invest in proofreading for such low-valu

  • by FilmedInNoir ( 1392323 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:35PM (#40144969)
    Unless your going to work in Canton (Guangzhou) and even then it's not the national language. It is a pretty nifty language though. Very flowery with lots of bizarre colloquialisms. But then again maybe I'm offering toilet paper to one urinating.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:35PM (#40144977) Homepage

    but the problem is I don't speak Mandarin or Cantonese. I am a native English speaker from Canada though

    So, to turn this around, if someone came into your place of work looking for a job, didn't speak English, and wasn't yet in the country ... would you be seriously considering this candidate?

    At a certain point, if you don't speak the language, what are you offering them?

    That's not to say you don't have stuff to offer, and if they have some English speakers you might not be someone who might be a good fit. But from a certain perspective, not having any language skills can be a huge liability in looking for work there.

    That, and you might need to find out the legal stuff you might need to account for to work in China. The equivalent of a work visa. The teaching of English might be your only option for a while.

    If you haven't already, I'd be trying to understand your legal position and what you'll be able to do when you're there as a visitor. You could find yourself unable to work, limited in what you can do (both legally and linguistically) and sitting around wishing you hadn't gone there in the first place.

    • It literally takes YEARS to learn Chinese to a level that is suitable for business conversations. I think you underestimate the incredible complexity of the language (especially for us westerners).
      • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:23PM (#40145731) Homepage

        I think you underestimate the incredible complexity of the language

        No, I know mostly that; a Vietnamese friend tried to explain tonality [] once -- and as a Westerner, I just can't pick up on the subtleties.

        That there are 12 ways pronounce the same things, and those vastly change the meaning baffles me, and isn't something I'm capable of hearing. My wife took a class in college which talked about it ... and when the instructor was describing the difference between "ga, ga, ga and ga", most of the people in the class could only hear a single "ga" , not four distinct ones. Since English doesn't use this, most of us can't even identify it when we hear it.

        And I know that's barely scratching the surface. There's more than just tonality.

        But I'm not the one planning to parachute into China without speaking the language and hoping I can get a job. Unless they speak English already, that's going to be a huge liability.

        The more I've listened to non-native speakers of English, the more forgiving I am about how you use it -- because trying to explain why some of these things are as they are can prove to be kind of pointless (unless you're actually a linguist). Because sometimes it's because the word is English, French, German, Latin ... and other times it's largely "because we say so".

        Increasingly, a lot of grammatical mistakes people who didn't grow up speaking English ... well, those make perfect sense if English actually had consistent rules. But since it doesn't, it can be very hard to explain.

        It would take years to learn Chinese ... but if you want to work there, you need to find English speakers, or learn Chinese.

  • My experience (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I don't think you will have ANY luck with a website here. They are all garbage. Your best luck is just *going* there, going out, networking, bars, friends, and finding some good local recruiters. It's not like MS is advertising on 51job or chinajobs. As usual, your best luck is relationships, and those are nigh-impossible to make without being there.

    I have a recruiter friend here in shanghai (who does a different industry) and he set me up a few friends. Nothing worked out (not much work in shanghai fo

  • Waste of time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:37PM (#40144995)

    Just tell your fiancé not to do it. I am telling you this from experience. My wife and I held getting married because she wanted to finish her studies she went through the whole thing till she got the PHD and I followed her around just like you are planning to do which also changed my plans. Education expenses were none since she made a nice income while doing research for the PhD.

    The problem was after she finished. My wife became hormonal and wanted to have kids, and pop up 2. Now all she wants to be is a mom a stay at home mom. And I am not the only one with the same situation. I got about a dozen friends with wifes with expensive education just going to waste because they want to be a house wife.

    Also you do not want to live in Beijing the air quality there is horrible.

  • Move to management (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:43PM (#40145109)

    I have lived and worked in China. As an English language speaker, it is not too difficult to find work in China since many companies use English as their official working language. But if you expect to find a job as a programmer making anything close to a western salary, you can forget it.

    Instead, you should consider moving to management. Plenty of companies doing outsourcing want someone on the ground in China who understands western business culture.

    You might also consider doing something completely different, like teaching English.

    Also, try to learn some Mandarin. You certainly need to know how to say please, thank you, excuse me, etc. You should also learn to say "this", "that", "How much does it cost?", and "Please give me ....". If you learn a few hundred hanzi, that will be a big help in reading street signs, menus, and restroom gender indicators.

  • by curunir ( 98273 ) * on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:47PM (#40145163) Homepage Journal

    Rather than looking for work there, try to find US companies that offshore work to China. Failing that, try applying with a firm that works with US companies, though don't expect to be paid much above what they pay their locals.

    My employer [] has an offshore team in Beijing. Most of the developers there speak pigeon English and would welcome a native speaker to help improve and we'd welcome someone to help bridge the language gap that can be quite difficult over Skype and such. I'd look for companies like us and inquire about whether we'd be willing to hire you to work in the China office. If you've got a good Java background, I'm sure we'd seriously consider hiring you to work at our China office. We might require you to train for a couple of weeks in SF first and come back for a couple weeks a year, but I'd hope that wouldn't be a problem for you. As a bonus, you'd likely not have to deal with getting a Chinese work permit, though you should probably confirm that.

    If you're interested, respond to this comment with some way to contact you and I can send your resume to HR.

    • Parent is correct. However, you don't have to work exclusively for U.S. companies that offshore labor. Many U.S. companies are looking to expand to the Chinese market, and want native English speakers on the ground in China.(Specifically automotive companies) Unfortunately, not many Americans are keen to move to China.

      This may be a valuable opportunity [] if you are willing to reinvent yourself.
  • Changes are that their Java Devs are way more cheaper than you and way better at chinese. And there are most certainly legion. I'd suggest you go with what you've got and do advanced english and english Java consulting. Maybe even some Technical Account Management with customers in the US ... you'll have an edge as a native speaker.

    See this as an opportunity to make a move from deving into management. You will not be able to outbid the local competition. ... This is not switzerland, you know.

    Oh, and do be p

  • If a chinese company wants you to work as part of a larger group of developers, they will expect you to be able to speak their language in order to participate...

    On the other hand, your best bet is probably to work for a company in an english speaking country that will let you work remotely... I know a few people who do development for london/uk based companies but who live in thailand, a uk wage goes a LONG way in a place like thailand.

  • by TheMathemagician ( 2515102 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @01:54PM (#40145253)
    Sorry to be blunt but you're very delusional expecting to get a job without speaking the language. Even if you got one you would probably be unable to survive on the salary. Just marry her so she can become a Canadian citizen and go to school there. Why did she apply for a program in China without you first sorting out living/work arrangements anyway?
  • Outsourcing (Score:4, Informative)

    by gauauu ( 649169 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:00PM (#40145347)

    I did this. I found a job in Shenzhen China, spending 2 years writing software at an outsourcing company. (PHP, Java, and (cringe) Oracle Forms Apps) I found the job in the US before I went overseas, via some odd connections, so I can't speak much about how you should get the job, but maybe the reports from some of my experiences could help you.

    First, one of the things that makes it hard for you to find a job is that they assume that you'll want an expensive American salary. At my job, I agreed to work for slightly higher than a standard Chinese native would make, but significantly lower than a standard American salary (I made about 12K USD per year, which was plenty). It might be worth mentioning in any cover letter/resume/etc what your salary expectation would be.

    Second, I don't know about all outsourcing companies, but where I worked, because most of our customers were in the US, there was an expectation that every employee needed to speak at least a little English. In reality, most people's English was pretty poor, but it meant that they were willing to hire someone like me with no Mandarin skills. So it might be worth focusing on companies that service US customers. They loved having me around for phone calls with the customers. (Realistically, I eventually ended up spending half of my time doing project management work because of my ability to easily communicate with our customers)
    Really, particularly in the outsourcing business, me being a token white american was valuable for the company. They could claim that they had a native English-speaker to help with customer communication, etc. As long as your salary doesn't price you out of their range, you could really sell your native North-American English skills as a positive. And (unfortunately) depending on your race, a white face can still open doors and opportunities in China (at least in Shenzhen it could). (it was really odd getting so much positive attention just because I looked like a stereotypical white american). When big important people came to visit the company, I'd always get introduced to them, even when it really made no sense based on my position -- they just wanted to show me off.

    So don't be discouraged by all the nay-sayers here. It's definitely possible to find software development jobs in China.

    That all being said, there were definitely some frustrating aspects of the job. For one thing, it ended up being fairly lonely, as it was harder to socialize with people that don't speak your language. While I eventually learned enough Mandarin to communicate, and they knew enough English, it was certainly harder to really be friends with your coworkers. And a lonely workplace is a bit discouraging.

    Either way, good luck, I hope you find something!

  • Contact me, my company has a subsidiary in Beijin and is looking for skilled developpers but with good english skills.
  • If you are dead set on working in Asia in an IT role your best bet is to do what has been suggested before and find a US firm willing to send you out there. They simply aren't interested in you unless you can provide a skill they need; ie, native english speaker. I have sent a number of resumes to IT firms in Japan looking for talent and the best I've gotten is a few email exchanges with that stopped cold as soon as they realized I wasn't in Japan. Get an ESL cert and teach English, at least if you're there
  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:05PM (#40145447)

    I had the same situation a few years ago. First, you can totally forget any local programming jobs. Chinese programmers get paid about 2000 RMB / month (a pathetic pittance) and there is a long line to get a starting position.
    I found a compromise for the teaching English route; teach IT classes *in* English. Find a university that has a 'learn abroad' exchange program with a university in the USA or UK. Their students there in China will have a requirement to take courses taught in English, preferably by a native speaker, in order to qualify for the exchange program. This is vastly superior to just teaching English and pays better as well. I taught at China Agricultural University which has such an agreement with University of Portsmouth in the UK. There are a lot of others with the same situation. To find them, work backwards: browse the websites of the schools in the UK and US in the foreign exchange section and look for their partner schools in China. If there is a 'you must complete x hours of courses taught in English', apply to that school in China.
    Either that, or before you even go set up a "100% work remote" gig with an employer here.

  • where native language skills are a positive disadvantage. All that whining...

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:10PM (#40145513)
    match? eharmony? jdate? Either man-up and be a house husband or man-up and tell your wife that moving to China is going to put a huge strain on your marriage.
  • For instance, my company has opened new offices in Hong Kong and are looking for IT staff.
  • ..but I have worked there for several years, then moved to Finland and trying to get back again.

    It shouldn't be too difficult to get something once you're there, but they will expect to pay you the same as a local, and you'll have to sort out some deal for health insurance.

    Another option is to try a company such as Canonical or Redhat, where they let you work from home. There are some agencies there too, who recognise the value in a foreigner.

    You might find something on the web site for the Beijing Linux Us

  • Make good friends with a Chinese programmer/english speaker/business person or two. Between the two/three of you, you find contracts in the west, they recruit and manage the programmers, and translate your specs. Meanwhile you can learn some Chinese from them. Later, you can apply to sponsor their work visas to come work onsite in Canada for your customers, I guess, providing you incorporate in Canada before you go.
  • Given your lack of local language skills, I think trying to apply directly to a Chinese company is probably a waste of time. I'm a US citizen who has lived and worked abroad a couple of times, and I think your best bets are: (1) a US or Canadian company which has subsidiaries or affiliates in China, or (2) an approach through a US or Candian affiliate of a Chinese company. Basically, you want to try for things where your English skills will be a net asset. That's the way I got my expat positions, thou
  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @02:54PM (#40146269)

    They charge the U.S. companies they outsource to $12-$20/hour.

    Seriously, learn some Mandarin before going, and expect to be values for your understanding of English and Western corporate culture.

    -- Terry

  • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Tuesday May 29, 2012 @04:23PM (#40147675) Homepage
    Help correct the web pages from China. Sometimes when I read one, my eyes have a tendency to go else where.

    And if you can pick up some Manderin, you can translate the "publically" accessable documents that some folks, in China, have recently come across, on the internet...

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.