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Job fair offers expats a foot in the door

Job fair offers expats a foot in the door

Updated: 2012-04-18 07:40

By Shi Jing in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Multinational companies focus on hiring in the rising Chinese market

To get a job in Shanghai, 26-year-old Elyse Stone from the United States depicted herself on her name card as "an ambitious global marketer".

She was prepared to start her career on the bottom rung of the corporate ladder.

"I expected to receive a monthly salary of between 10,000 and 12,000 yuan ($1,600 and $1,900) when I started to seek job opportunities in Shanghai in June 2011," said Stone, who is now a marketing executive for SinoUnited Health, a physical therapy clinic.

Stone is one of a growing number of expatriates, especially those with good educational and professional backgrounds, seeking working opportunities in Shanghai as more multinational companies are focusing on localization to lower costs.

"The number of expats coming to work in Shanghai has grown significantly ever since the European debt crisis hit in late 2009," said Huang Hong, deputy director of the Shanghai Foreign Experts Affairs Bureau.

"There has been a tremendous increase in the mobility of talent nowadays. If the economy in other countries is not as good, overseas talent is very likely to seek a chance in China."

More than 81,000 expats working in Shanghai have a foreign expert certificate - about one-sixth of the total number in China. About 1,000 additional foreign experts are recruited in Shanghai every year, officials from the Shanghai Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau said, at a job fair catering to expats in Shanghai on Saturday.

Shanghai started to issue foreign expert certificates in 2005, with 6,000 to 8,000 certificates issued on a yearly basis.

More than 60 companies from Shanghai and Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces, mostly social services, culture and education companies or institutions, participated in the job fair.

A total of 1,148 posts for positions such as professors, language tutors, operation managers and TV program hosts were up for grabs.

Li Hongyan, associate consultant of the professional and technical division from headhunting company Kelly Services, noticed a significant increase in expats showing a willingness to work in Shanghai since the debt crisis.

"As some of the multinational companies in Europe have not been handing in good performances, the headquarters of these companies have diverted their focus to the Chinese market and therefore are hiring for more management positions here," said Li.

"Most of the cases I have handled are Fortune 500 companies hunting for appropriate manager or director candidates. Few would hire relatively low-level employees via headhunting companies," she said.

But usually the salary of an overseas employee is about twice that of a local one, with the bottom annual salary of about 400,000 yuan for each manager. Meanwhile, some multinational companies are attaching more importance to the localization of the company and thus opening some high-level positions to local candidates, Li said.

"I am sure there are plenty of opportunities as long as you do not put up your standards too high," Stone said. "It is very common for expats to start from the bottom here. Quite a number of my friends started from teaching language.

"You have to be open-minded, put yourself into the social scene and meet as many people as possible," she said.