Coming to China is a big step. If you haven't already moved here, then it's like jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool with only a couple of lessons; you either sink or swim. However, just because it's a little deep and a challenge, doesn't mean that you can't put on a couple of armbands to keep your head above water. That's what job search platforms on the internet should be, or at least that's what we think they should be. Your personal, intercultural, flotation device.
But they're not all this way, are they? In fact, too many of them tend to just focus on listed job after listed job, without much regard as to what candidates will do once they get there, or once they've even found one they want.
In the interests of helping candidates to find jobs in China easily and effectively, we've put together this little guide on the different platforms which are available and what to look out for when comparing them. Hopefully, this ABC review of job search platforms in China will give you the info you need to make sure your job search in China isn't just successful, but also easy as pie.
Four Areas to Consider
So, moving into this review, we've come up with four primary areas which we think are vital to reviewing how worthwhile an online job searching platform for China is. Those four areas are:
Simplicity: Is the service simple and easy to navigate, or does it make you run around in circles just to enter your name and register with them? Simplicity covers almost every facet of a platform, right from signup, to leaving comments, and being able to search effectively.
Support: For those who are new to the scene, support can make a big difference. We're talking about guidance and advice for those who are looking to find a job in China. Where to start, what can you expect, how should you communicate with employers, how to get the best salary during the interview? For sites which rank highly, these kinds of questions - and more - are answered clearly and concisely.
Effectiveness: What's the point of a job search service where you can't actually get a job? There isn't one really. The effectiveness score is all based on the ability for a certain platform to actually help you find jobs in China. It doesn't matter what that job is, just that it helps you to find one.
Opportunity: It's great being able to get a job, but the problem is finding the perfect job. That's right, the job which you've been hankering for since you started your job search. Opportunity is the degree to which the final job you accept can match up to that ideal. 10 is it's the perfect job, 0 is that you're working as a janitor (unless that's your perfect job).
As one of the first sites to make the rounds on the internet as a job search tool for China, eChinacities claim to currently cover 41 major Chinese cities. Having popped up in 2008, they have had a long time to expand their network and bring in more employers looking for suitable candidates.
The interface is simple and easy to navigate, and there is a huge range of opportunities available. Let's take a deeper look at the site and see what we'll find.
Simplicity – 10/10
It can't really get any simpler. The interface is basically just a list of the jobs you want to search for. Salary, position type, and location are all listed in the search results (along with the title selected by the employer). It's super easy to use and is, in fact, one of the better interfaces out there on the internet when it comes to sites for foreigners looking for jobs in China.
Support – 7/10
Support-wise, the site does get marks for the diversity of articles they have on the magazine section. There is a lot of information available to newbies looking for jobs, and oldies looking to change up. What's also great is that you can change the news and information you have based on whatever city you're currently located in (or looking to move to). This doesn't always seem to be entirely effective or helpful, but it's a neat feature nonetheless.
That's pretty much where it stops though. After you've looked through the articles and the opportunities it's down to you to get the job. Some of the articles do help to create things like resumes or give tips in interviews, but there isn't a dedicated service to these things. Moreover, the direct customer support isn't really there. There is, however, a great online forum for talking to others.
eChinacities claim to cover 41 major Chinese cities, but there is a clear line of preference for bigger cities like Shanghai and Beijing. This is probably to be expected though, as most jobs for foreigners are located in tier 1 and tier 2 cities.
Overall, eChinacities is an effective place to find a job in China, the only problem is the quality of the opportunities offered on the site…
Opportunity – 5/10
The main problem with eChinacities when it comes to opportunity is that a lot of the job ads seem to be through agencies. Agencies tend to either be scammers or give teachers really bad deals when it comes to salary packages. Newbies can easily be fooled by seemingly attractive offers (and the flurry of similar sounding job ads), but the fact is that these agencies are not good when compared to being hired by schools directly. Sometimes this isn't the case, but more often than not it is.
Another problem with eChinacities is the lack of opportunities which aren't teaching. They are they, but they are incredibly sparse (and usually have a bit of teaching snuck into the job description responsibilities). eChinacities is really let down by this lack of diversity, which is a shame considering the simplicity of its interface.
Overall, a decent website for finding a job in China, but it's going to get you a lot further if you're looking for a teaching position than anything else. It is worth checking out, but might be best as one of many stops on your job hunt journey.
China job is a job search website based in China, sponsored by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA). It aims to help connect candidates with a range of different employers and positions throughout China. The site boasts that they have a 'highly professional and enthusiastic HR team' and 'superior technical facilities'. Let's see how much that rings true.
Simplicity – 2/10
The site does offer everything which might seem important to a decent job searching site in China. There's a login feature, there's advice for candidates, there's a range of diverse opportunities, and the even have visa help for those in need.
However, there was one blinding problem with the service; it didn't work properly. As we tried to navigate our way through the site, there were so many times where we were met with constant, unending loading bars, or just told that no data was being sent.
This lack of reliability really ruined the service for us and made it practically unusable. A shame considering the other features on the site.
Support – 5/10
Once we finally did manage to get into the site, we found that the support section also needed a bit of work. Whilst the site did have information on job fairs and was pretty good at directing our attention to different areas depending on our needs, it once again fell afoul of the reliability problem.
We were interested in seeing what support they had for teachers who had already accepted positions. However, no matter how many times we clicked on 'city guides' nothing would load. This was despite the rest of the site loading.
Effectiveness - 2/10
The site does look effective (if it were more reliable). The jobs can be searched through easily, and there is a dedicated teaching in China jobs section. The reason why we have marked them so low in this sections is due to the lack of reliability. It makes the site less easy to use, and less reliable. Overall, it ruins a great website.
Opportunity – 10/10
Whilst the site may suffer from reliability problems, we do have to give them credits for the number of opportunities they offer. Due to them being funded by SAFEA, they almost definitely would have access to some of the best opportunities in the country, and be able to advertise them.
Moreover, it can be expected that all of the positions on China Job would come with the guarantee of you being legally employed. There are many sites elsewhere on the internet which lists jobs where they expect you to stay illegally in China on a tourist visa. Because of China Jobs link to SAFEA, this is unlikely to be a problem here.
Finally, the site divides what it calls 'Professional Positions' from 'Teaching Positions', meaning that there's a lot more than just work for those in ESL.
We think we've said about all we could on China Jobs. The site is a good one for people looking for a job in China. However, the fact that it sometimes won't load makes it a real pain to keep up with. Its link to SAFEA might ensure the job you find is legal and legitimate, but you might have to wait a while for the application page to load.
LaowaiCareer is a relatively new competitor on the job search scene in China. They have only been around since early 2016, making them one of the youngest providers on this list. However, in that time, the LaowaiCareer team has put an emphasis on making sure that the service they deliver meets the needs of candidates. They seem to have taken a lot of what makes the other sites in this review great, and consolidated them in one place. Let's have a deeper look.
Simplicity – 9/10
The site is easy to use and simple to navigate. Job search functionality is powerful and super quick. Looking through the site's job search part, we were able to find a position we wanted in under a minute by using the advanced search options.
Where the site does fall down is that maybe when opening the homepage, the 'search jobs' button is relatively small. We also feel that maybe the 'blog' section could be made a little bigger and clearer. However, once navigated into these sections, the interface as intuitive and simple to get through. Top Marks for simplicity.
Support – 9/10
Finding a job in China does need a lot of support. LaowaiCareer was the only site which offered candidates the ability to create their own resume and the export it to PDF. We were pretty happy about this feature and felt it showed the site as having candidates' best interests at heart.
Besides the resume function, the site also had several articles located on their blog with advice and information, and it seemed easy to contact the company for customer support. The one thing which we felt was a shame was that the number of articles on the site wasn't as many as on other places like eChinacities. However, that is most likely due to the site still being relatively new. We're sure that over time there will be more.
Effectiveness - 9/10
The site was effective when it came to finding jobs. Many positions listed on the site were clear in their requirements and what they offered. For a job seeker, we can imagine that they would be able to find something relatively easily.
Moreover, the site's interface meant that messages from potential employers were kept neat and tidy, instead of being thrown around in our email inbox. We were able to keep our work life separate using LaowaiCareer, which was a bit plus in our books.
Opportunity – 8/10
Again, one of the problems with finding a job in China here was the lack of diversity. They did have jobs in sectors other than teaching English, but there was a huge difference between the number of education based positions and those in other industries.
However, for all industries which they had listed, the did have at least one opportunity available. This was in contrast with the other job sites available on the net, many of which lacked the ability to even search via industry.
Overall – 35 / 40
A great place to find jobs in China. The service might be young, but they seem to have learnt from the mistakes of their predecessors. If you're looking to find a job in China, whether that's teaching or in another industry, this should be one of the first places you visit.
Dave's ESL Café
Dave's ESL Café is a bit of a classic. It's been around for quite some time and helped teachers find jobs around the world. It doesn't just focus on China, but the size of the market there has meant that it has its own dedicated job board now.
Simplicity – 4/10
When it comes to simplicity, Dave'sESL Café epitomizes it. However, in this case, that simplicity isn't quite the same as the simplicity we're talking about in this article. For them, it's not a case of making your application process as simple as possible, it's more a case of a simple layout and easy link structure.
The site lacks basic functionality like job searching and preference selection. Moreover, whilst the site does have private accounts, companies and schools tend to contact people through email, meaning your inbox ends up piled up with a lot of emails. This can be a pain and is unavoidable.
Support – 6/10
When it comes to support, the site does have a great online forum where teachers come together and share their experiences or ask questions about situations. There are even different boards for different countries, so you know you're getting applicable advice.
Once teachers have jobs as well, there are several links to teaching resources on the website. These include lesson plans, materials, and other assorted bits and bobs. These are great for anyone who's just starting out, and can really help to make their first few months a hell of a lot easier.
Whilst all that is great, it doesn't really help when it comes to actually getting a job. The only part on Daves ESL café which does directly help with getting a job in China is the job boards.
Effectiveness - 9/10
Can you find a job here? Yes, almost definitely. The site is geared towards everyone from beginners to more experienced ESL instructors. You can even upload your own resume and have companies and schools contact you.
We uploaded a resume and came back the next morning to over 20 messages from companies looking to hire us. Unfortunately, these messages all came in email form to our inbox and kept piling up over time. That being said though, we would definitely have been able to find a suitable job amongst them.
Opportunity – 8/10
Daves ESL café is dedicated to people who want to teach. Whilst the site caters to more than just China (you can find a job practically anywhere in the world here), it only does so if you're looking for an ESL position (hence the name).
The site has been a foreign teacher favourite for quite some time now. However, the China job board also tends to be filled with countless agencies looking to recruit teachers. As said before, agencies can be really bad news in China – especially when they take a cut of your monthly salary.
Overall – 27 / 40
Instead of a fancy layout and options, the platform went with something much simpler and looks similar to a job board you might find on the all in a pub or at a market. Different people like different things, so for some Dave's ESL Café is great.
However, the overall feel of the platform seems to be lacking something which the others have. We think this is because Dave's ESL café requires users to pass through a learning curve before their start using it. Use this site if you're thinking of working as a teacher.
The Winner: LaowaiCareer
This time, the winner is LaowaiCareer, with a total of 35 points. It was close, though, between LaowaiCareer and eChinacities. Moreover, we reckon that if you're a teacher looking for a job in the ESL sector Dave's ESL café is probably a great choice.
However, LaowaiCareer just managed to bring together features from all of the different job sites and collect them in one place. The simplicity of eChinacities, the effectiveness of Dave's ESL Café, and (we felt) the legitimacy of ChinaJob.
One area which we did feel that LaowaiCareer somewhat let us down on was the diversity of positions. Now, a lot of the sites on the list also lacked that 'diversity'. It might be down to the job market in China and the types of employment where foreigners are most needed. However, we felt that Chinajob did a better job of making sure that the jobs which didn't regard teaching were highlighted.
We also felt that LaowaiCareer had a bit of a way to go when it came to providing support articles. This was largely due to the small amount available when compared with the other sites. We do realise that LaowaiCareer is the youngest platform in this review, so hopefully, with time they will come to work on that and develop their blog section.
Finally, one thing which really impressed us on LaowaiCareer was the ability to create a resume and export it to PDF. This is great for job seekers in any field, and makes LaowaiCareer indispensable whether used on its own, or in conjunction with other online job searching platforms in China. So, what are you waiting for? Go sign up and get your resume filled out!