"Candidates have to be native speakers, with at least two years' teaching experience. And a TEFL certificate is a must," said Robert Deters, New Oriental School's foreign teacher recruiter at the 2015 Job Fair for Foreigners held in Beijing last Saturday.
Demanding as it seems, the requirements Robert put forward are in fact the prerequisites for almost all schools - private or public – recruiting at the job fair.
"It speaks to how expectations have been raised for expats trying to get a decent job in China as the number of them has increased yearly in the country," says Dou Xingwang, CEO of Panda Guides, who also ordered a booth at the job fair looking for possible employees.
According to a report issued by China's National Bureau of Statistics, the number of expats working in China saw a 19 percent rise from 201,955 in 2010 to 240,000 in 2012, and the figure is still rising.
Decent jobs in China are indeed becoming harder to obtain. The media, the second largest job source at the fair, for example, would only consider expats with a minimum of two to five years' related working experience – the former like a CCTV reporter and the latter a CCTV or CRI host. Even for copy editing jobs, the candidates need to have related working experience and at least a related bachelor's degree.
"To nail in the market as a starter, we just have to go further to impress the employers," said Edward, an exchange student majoring in power system automation at China's Aviation and Aerospace University.
Edward said he is also considering joining his dual degree girlfriend to sign up for Chinese classes as Chinese language skills have become a must for the engineering and business sectors he's interested in.
The senior candidates at the job fair, despite have a comparative advantage in experience, seem to see eye to eye with Edward. And more often than not, they think that for anyone who wants to get a satisfying job in China, he or she has to really compete like the locals to get the job.
"It won't be long for the expats to realize that their advantage as a native speaker in a certain country has diminished," said Michael J. Jordan, a former employer at the AFP and now looking for flexible jobs while staying at Hong Kong Baptist University as a visiting professor.
"It's an important fact to realize that jobs are getting more specialized in China. You have to go to the job fairs and ask around, make an effort to get what you want," Jordan said.
Or, as some young aspirant employed expats suggest, network to get work. "Try Linkedin, build up your CV, demonstrate what you are good at and prove it," said Nick Bedard, a 25-year-old editor employed by a state news agency this year through social networking.
"The key to get a job in China – online or offline, really is, to be good at something and show them what you've got," Bedard said.
So far, the Job Fair for Foreigners has been held for ten years. Since 2008, it has been held twice a year alternately in Shenzhen and Guangzhou in addition to the usual Beijing and Shanghai. This year, there were over 900 expats participating in the Beijing fair that just concluded last Saturday.
The last fair for 2015 would be held at the Swissotel Grand Shanghai this Friday from 9:00 to 16:00.
If you go:
Address: 1 Yu Yuan Road, Jing An District, Shanghai.