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

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the ask-nicely dept.

China 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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Construction or landscaping (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144563)

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

Re:Construction or landscaping (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Construction or landscaping (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144733)

You, sir (or madam), just put a little ray of sunshine into my day.

Re:Construction or landscaping (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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".

Re:Construction or landscaping (3, Funny)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145007)

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?

Re:Construction or landscaping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145311)

The racist part comes in when a group of people, clearly identified, is dismissed as a stereotype.

That is racism, using less direct wording, but still obvious.

Re:Construction or landscaping (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144919)

How is this racist?

Re:Construction or landscaping (1)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144953)

You're giving me a frowny face.

Re:Construction or landscaping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145229)

You're a left wing tool. You'd have a frowny face even if we perfected true communism today.

Re:Construction or landscaping (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145153)

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.

Re:Construction or landscaping (3, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145415)

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

Re:Construction or landscaping (4, Informative)

tonywong (96839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145159)

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.

Re:Construction or landscaping (4, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145291)

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:Construction or landscaping (3, Interesting)

Fuzi719 (1107665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145413)

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.

Maybe a local job isn't the best? (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144587)

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).

Re:Maybe a local job isn't the best? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144749)

The problem with this is that he might not be able to retain a Chinese visa for very long if he doesn't have a job there.

Re:Maybe a local job isn't the best? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145141)

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:Maybe a local job isn't the best? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145219)

yeah. And, in your case, you're a retard.

Everyone speaks pictograms (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144609)

Any websites I should be focusing on?"

This one [mcdonalds.com.cn] .

Re:Everyone speaks pictograms (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145027)

Better idea: Google Translate [google.com]

Re:Everyone speaks pictograms (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145269)

All your cheeseburgers are belong to us

Huh. Apparently it still needs some work.

maybe not developing? (5, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#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...

Re:maybe not developing? (4, Insightful)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145287)

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...

I don't know about Canada, but I find that we could use a class like that right here in the US.

Re:maybe not developing? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145317)

Actually if he is a student and presumably wants to work part time then doing some freelance English lessons could work. You can take short training courses in ELT/EFL.

Remote work (2)

gr3yh47 (2023310) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144641)

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.

Re:Remote work (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144705)

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 Monster.com.

Re:Remote work (2)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144769)

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

Look for multi-nationals (4, Informative)

JonahsDad (1332091) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144685)

Had a friend that was in Shanghai for about a year. Worked for Rockwell [rockwellautomation.com] . So a US/Canana/UK based company that has a Beijing office might be your best shot.

Re:Look for multi-nationals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145249)

+1... When I worked for ActiveNetwork, we had two offices in China... we needed native english speakers in the China offices so bad that we resorted to sending devs over for 2-3 weeks at a time. I don't think they have an office in Beijing, but they are hiring: http://jobs.activenetwork.com/search?q=technology

As a company, it's middle-of-the-road. When I left, they had a very thick layer of PHBs and brown-nosing Sr Devs.... but my understanding is that a big bunch of them left recently, so it might not be so bad.

OH my... (5, Interesting)

imagined.by (2589739) | more than 2 years ago | (#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... (5, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#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... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145181)

A real man won't eat it at all.

Re:OH my... (-1, Offtopic)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145301)

A REAL man will wonder if he can stick his dick in it.

Re:OH my... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145121)

And dogs are sent to Washington, DC.

Re:OH my... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145327)

Coming from a Chinese person who grew up in Beijing,
Yes, you are correct most part abt the type of food, but not the way we cook them.
Rats used to be roasted, but eating rats are so yesterday....
Scorpions are usually deep fried, snails are stir fried. cats most ppl don't eat, I think you are mistaken the "cat ear" soup which is actually made of flours, not cat meat, there is this general understanding in China that cat meat stinks.
And no, we don't waste something as good as rice wine with "minnows", we don't really eat raw sea/fresh water products, it's the Japanese that do.
And you'll also find it really hard to explain to Chinese (those who have not been brain washed by Westerns), why we should eat certain types of animals. Yes most ppl in China agree you should not torture animals, but if you kill to eat, any animal is the same as chicken or pig. It's called culture difference, and don't tell me yours is right and ours is wrong. Same goes for eating manners and such. I personally really hate your table manner where you have to dress up to go to a fancy restaurant. It just doesn't make sense.
And the air quality is horrible, you'll probably have lung cancer when you are 70ish, if you live in the city all your life. But then again, you'll probably die of other disease or accidents by then. So no big deal.
As to the original question, I'm not too sure how's the market looking for ppl who can't speak Chinese, but I would think that learning Chinese while living in China is not a bad idea, and once you know enough Chinese, an English teacher is a good position if you can find the rich and teach their kid. It should be a better work/pay ratio then a programmer.

Re:OH my... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144829)

"Me too" on the extreme level of air polution in Beijing. I would compare it to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, against your will. The western hotel I was in had an air cleaner in the room. I went to a non-western hotel and couldn't take it, I checked out after a day.

Takin' our jobs! (5, Funny)

InvisibleClergy (1430277) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144707)

This summer -

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

AND TAKE.
THEM.
BACK.

(Coming to theaters Summer 2012.)

Bravo Sir! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144973)

You are on the very Brink of success!

Re:Takin' our jobs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145061)

I can has Canadian sidekick?

I am a native English speaker from Canada though.

Just saying.

Re:Takin' our jobs! (1)

aclarke (307017) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145425)

Yeah, but that wouldn't make for a very good movie:

Excuse me, could we please have our jobs back? No? Umm, OK then, thanks for your time.

Our stereotypical approach would involve neither kicking ass, nor taking names.

todo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144711)

1. Speak foreign fluently 2. Learn culture 3. Eat weird food 4. Get a degree/diploma 5. Find job! 6. Profit

Looks like you need a remote job (3, Interesting)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#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."

Being realistic ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Being realistic ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144803)

In Canada, how many developer positions are filled by people unable to speak English or French?

Umm... Not to be a dick, but I'd say about half of 'em, from where I'm sitting.

article title fail (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144721)

The guy is not a "non-native speaker". He's a non-speaker. "Non-native speaker" means that he speaks the language, but not natively. The question is from someone who does not speak the language.

Re:article title fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144881)

Maybe he doesn't speak English correctly.

Re:article title fail (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144989)

Maybe he doesn't speak English good.

Start Studying (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144727)

Learn the language.
It shouldn't take an intelligent person more than 3 months or so to get fluent.

Re:Start Studying (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144937)

Fluent in Mandarin in 3 months? Pihua!

Re:Start Studying (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145023)

Apparently you're not very intelligent.

Teaching = best salary (5, Interesting)

Murmel84 (1033852) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144729)

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

Are you nuts? (5, Funny)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144765)

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.

Re:Are you nuts? (2)

linear a (584575) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145439)

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 part 2 though.

Language consultant (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Language consultant (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145047)

Thats like a CIA trained chef looking for work and applying at McDonalds

CIA trained chef?

Re:Language consultant (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145101)

Culinary Institute of America, the other CIA

www.ciachef.edu

Some acronyms need to be defined ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145071)

... Thats like a CIA trained chef looking for work and applying at McDonalds ...

Perhaps that acronym should be defined, something like "Culinary Institute of America" would be my first guess given the context. A "Central Intelligence Agency" trained chef would naturally have extremely limited career paths. ;-)

Re:Language consultant (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145125)

Thats like a CIA trained chef looking for work and applying at McDonalds

And anyways, you'd be in a lot trouble with the Chinese government if they found out you were trained by the CIA.

Re:Language consultant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145245)

This actually sounds like a brilliant idea. "English for the Chinese Programmer"

work from home (0)

Jerry Rivers (881171) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144785)

Apply to North American companies that have a need for programmers in China.

Try Apple.

Live in China...speak Chinese (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144805)

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 (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144809)

maybe you can try the hundreds of different expat forums?

Teach English (1)

martyros (588782) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144839)

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 benefits, only to find the company offering them something very different once they're there. Shouldn't be as big a deal if you're already there, and if you have connections (through your fiancee's university) to people who can help you navigate the system in an emergency. But just keep an eye open and listen to your instincts: if something seems a bit fishy or too good to be true, go somewhere else.

Re:Teach English (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145167)

As if anybody outside Coonoodooo will be able to understand his pronunciation.

I've spent a year traveling and working in china (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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)

Translation proofreader/ editor (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144887)

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.... http://www.engrish.com/ [engrish.com]

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.

Re:Translation proofreader/ editor (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145281)

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-value items. Your advice is, I'm sorry to say, completely unrealistic.

not programmer but success he did find (1)

fluffythedestroyer (2586259) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144905)

Like the subject says, one of my friend found a job in japan (not China I know) as a lawyer. He doesn't speak japanese and they didn't had any requirements for japanese speakers too. All I can say is search for the right business and your going to find one. Any good dev business that wants to make money must have english translator so you might hire a programmer as well. Makes sense to me. good luck on your search.

If you can't speak the language (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144917)

Absent native-level fluency in Chinese (in other words, the complete opposite of where you are), your command of the English language will be the only thing that gets you in the door anywhere. Think about it from their standpoint, why hire a westerner who can program but can't read spec sheets or communicate with his peers when you can hire a native who can program and also is a functional member of the office environment?

So either expect to land in some sort of job more related to your ability to speak English rather than your ability to program, or try to retain your current job and work remotely while you're in China. If you're a valuable enough asset, your company will be more than happy to work with you rather than find a replacement.

Comfort worker? (1)

zaxbowow (1590757) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144935)

[EOM]

Forget Cantonese (3, Funny)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Learn Chinese or work over the inernet? (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144977)

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.

Re:Learn Chinese or work over the inernet? (2)

imagined.by (2589739) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145363)

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).

You're just not qualified. (1)

Stephen Gilbert (554986) | more than 2 years ago | (#40144979)

What would you think if someone showed up at your workplace in the US, unable to speak a word of English, looking for a programming job?

As a native English speaker, you can make decent money teaching English. Or, you can try to find a remote job. But, I think your chances of finding a local development job are slim.

My experience (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144985)

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 for me). I found the one that I have from someone I met a hostel who did an internship there. Got another at the hostel in shanghai, for a company in hangzhou. Another I possibility came from someone in the local pool league, but that was in a different country. A lot of chinese live at hostels when they are starting/looking for jobs, and two of my friends were fresh grad law masters looking for jobs in the ¥4K range. All in all it took 3 months. You will probably have much better luck in beijing, where most of the tech work is.

So, go there, give it three months, see what happens -
  - go out, business functions, pool leagues, IT areas
  - find some local recruiters (won't be hard), just start asking around
  - look for chinese companies that also operate in the west/australia with international products
  - stay at a non-tourist-kid-centric hostel, but still busy

One of my best opportunities (that I didn't take, i got the job first) was to teach english to a bunch of recuriters a few hours a day, a few days a week. In that case they said they would hook me up with jobs, and pay a little for the classes. Recruiters get a large fee for finding someone, if that person stays on for more than a few months. Usually in the range of 2 months salary, I think, so the incentive is still very much there to find you a job.

Be aware that they can find java programmers in china quite easily here, even if they are terrible at the job. Chinese managment sees the $ first, and not the quality, so I don't have anyone good working for me in this office. That sometimes changes when they start to fail, but in a lot of places pay for a mid-level java dev is around ¥7-8000 (and their mid is our junior). You are better off aiming for management in the application/resume etc. You will end up doing coding anyway, but at least have some power to fix the crap you see.

Re:My experience (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145127)

A few more notes:
I was told very directly that they almost will not consider a white guy for anything less than management. They think they will cost to much, and not fit in. By their standards they are right, even if in the end they are wrong. My GF at the time got my resume to her boss/best friend and they said that directly. They will _not_ hire a white guy for anything less than management. Recruiters said the same thing, except when working with foreign companies or in certain positions. That was a chinese company, though. It is NOT the same at a western company here.

I don't speak good chinese. I got stuck where I am (sorry, no town, there are only a few other tech companies & laowai here) because the guy who hired me didn't want to go this town because no one in the office speaks english well :) I got lucky, the boss would not let anyone but a westerner take the job, skill wise. He doesn't trust his guys (and girls, 1/2 are women), and he is right. It's a little bit sad, the sophistication.

Anyway, it's a very mixed bag. I screwed up my job asking for too much money, because there were other offers that I didn't get. Expect around ¥20K for a chinese company in a big city, more for a western. MS pays ¥30-35K for tools developers here, but the standards are ambiguous and the hiring process with companies can be quite long.

Give it a shot. You won't regret the few months you are out here. Worse comes to worse, come work for me! I think you are worth the money, but doubt I can convince the boss. In the end, you could make more as an english teacher for a good school if you can get the job, if you just end up doing normal dev work for a chinese company.

I know a company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40144991)

Apply at HengTian, they outsource to American companies.

Waste of time. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Go to the Global Marketplaces (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145045)

Offer your developing working time free-lance in global marketplaces like o-desk. Earn in usd dolars. Spend in Chinese Yuans. Done deal. have that money credited to your credit card and you'll live on it.

and by the way, Learn chinese. it's a unique opportunity you'll have, don't waist it!

Oracle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145049)

Look into Oracle, Microsoft, etc... most of the tech firms have huge offices there and they hire lots of people. You will be paid less, but can probably get a job there with 8 yrs experience. Try Oracle first... they have a huge presence there.

Dump her (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145067)

Dump your fiancée.

tibiwangzi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145099)

Shouldn't take too long to pick up Putonghua. Reading and writing characters, on the other hand...

Actually, there's a growing trend of Chinese dysgraphia among native speakers, owing at least in part to increased use of smart phones, computers, etc. The name for it, tibiwangzi, means "take pen, forget character." I would imagine that technology has only increased adoption of pinyin.

Anyway, zhu ni haoyun.

Move to management (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Consider not moving? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145139)

I don't mean to sound like a troll, but I really do suggest you reconsider your plan to move. Beijing is a filthy place where you won't be able to breath after a few weeks. As you've noticed, the job market for non-Cantonese/Mandarin speakers is terrible. If you didn't grow up in an Eastern culture, then the culture shock will be much more intense than you imagine. If you don't have an emotional support structure in place (family, close friends) locally, then you're setting yourself up for disaster. It's the kind of thing that will lead to suicidal depression, or a suffocating clinginess that will lead your fiancee to resent you.

I did the long-distance relationship thing (5,000+ miles), and in the end it worked out for me. It was a very trying time, but if your relationship is going to last 50 years of living together and possibly raising children, it will last another 5 years while thousands of miles away. No offense, but if the two of you are not committed in marriage yet (as you're only engaged to be married), then you're not really obligated to move with her. Even if you were married, there still wouldn't be an obligation to move. Please consider what I've written, and make the decision you believe is best for you. It's your life.

Look for US companies that offshore (4, Interesting)

curunir (98273) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145163)

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 [demandforce.com] 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.

Best job for english speaker... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145193)

pack fortune cookies

How about teching advanced english and consulting? (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145195)

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 prepared for some really extreme air pollution. Stock up on Masks and Air filters and such.

My 2 cents.

Talent needed in Beijing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145207)

These guys are located in Beijing and need programmers -> http://www.balancedworlds.com/openings

English and madarin speaking applicant are welcome.

Programming in Taiwan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145235)

As an American programmer who's attempting to do similar in Taiwan, I've found most people are hesitant to hire Americans. Their perception of us is we're lazy and demanding, of course, our perception of them is their demanding and never take a break. Honestly, if you have a degree, you will make far more money teaching English than you will programming. Programmers aren't as "valuable" in most other countries as they are in America.

Jobs in china.. (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145237)

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.

Marry her and live in Canada! (3)

TheMathemagician (2515102) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?

Dude I know is in the same situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145267)

Teaches ESL. Apparently you don't need to know the native language to teach it.

Re:Dude I know is in the same situation (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145429)

agree with this. But I think he wants to keep his resume focused on java.

Three steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40145345)

1. Get married. This would solve your VISA problems in most countries, so I'm assuming the best of China here. You'll have much greater flexibility to freelance, etc., if you're not depending upon an employer for your VISA.

2. Learn the language. Seriously, just do it. You'll be much happier and more productive. Learning Mandarin isn't even very hard—it's just a lot of work.

3. Don't look for a coding job. You're not bringing anything to the table as a coder in China. Instead, consider using your knowledge of coding and English to become a manager or teacher. That's the real value you bring to the country.

For example, I developed a highly rewarding side business in Japan teaching programmers how to understand programmer-English. There's nothing more satisfying than finding common ground across cultures around a lesson on "Domain Specific Languages" or whatever. As a bonus, my Japanese students all turned me onto Ruby back in 2003–2004, right before the language exploded in the Western world with Rails, so the experience wound up making me a much more marketable coder in the end.

Outsourcing (3, Informative)

gauauu (649169) | more than 2 years ago | (#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!

Focus on Western & Chinese Startups (1)

swithdrawn (2650375) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145355)

All of the comparisons to immigrants in the U.S. who can't speak English don't necessarily apply. I worked in Beijing as an assistant teacher (really a full fledged instructor) in a startup 3D animation school run jointly by Americans and Chinese. At least when I was there in 2007, the students held myself and the other western instructors in very high esteem, even though I was younger than most of them. There's a perception that the westerners especially in teaching roles are the key to all knowledge, and there's a huge desire to learn everything. The school had translators present so language wasn't really an issue. I visited several companies and schools and found other westerners in similar roles, so I imagine there are still opportunities other than teaching English if you look specifically at startups and other institutions.

We're hiring (1)

slb (72208) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145381)

Contact me, my company has a subsidiary in Beijin and is looking for skilled developpers but with good english skills.

I've attempted this (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#40145405)

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 you have a shot.

Find a Chinese Uni. with a foreign partner (3, Interesting)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

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