Finding a job in Taiwan isn’t straightforward. From job hunting in a market that isn’t beaming with jobs, to the legal side of applying for work permits and ARCs, the whole experience can be a bit of a hassle. Don’t get me wrong, job hunting anywhere in the world is always a stressful ordeal, but there are definitely some tips that can help your Taiwanese job hunting.
If you’ve come here to find some tips on finding English teaching work, then I’m afraid you’re in the wrong neighborhood kid. You should check out some jobs on this Facebook group instead.
Here’s a guide on how you should start and hopefully finish your job hunt.
1. Use 104.com
This one stings a bit because there are plenty of great platforms in Taiwan that deserve more recognition and use from businesses. But 104.com is going to be your primary source of finding a job. This presents two obstacles:
- The website is entirely in Mandarin
- It’s easy to find jobs, but it’s difficult to know how to apply.
I found using Mandarin not to be an issue since I have a good grasp on it. Even then, I had to get my girlfriend’s help with understanding the many different categories that my old job roles and the role I want fit into.
What turned out to be difficult was figuring out how to apply. For every job, you can apply with the orange button below, as well as being able to save the job for later.
The problem with this method is that I have never found it to be particularly effective. You can send your resume/CV with a copy and pasted cover letter, along with your 104 profile. The problem is that it doesn’t make you stand out.
Stand out or get out
Why should it? You stand out as much as anyone else that applied, and you’re another name on a resume that will be scanned.
No, take it from me, research and dig into a company a bit. Check them out on LinkedIn and see if you can find their HR or maybe the department head for the job you’re applying for. If the company is small, chances are, it’ll be the manager of a department that will be the decision-maker anyway.
Make first contact
Once you find that person, or even if you don’t, call the company and ask for them, or whoever is in charge of hiring. If you have a name, that’s a lot better. Gatekeepers are less likely to let you pass through if you sound like a telemarketer or somebody that hasn’t done their homework.
From here, regardless as to whether or not they direct you to simply apply on 104, or to send your application documents to a personal email, you’ve made an impression. You’ll be surprised how much that will impress a hiring manager. 10 minutes of work can be the difference of being considered for a job, and being a name on a list.
Most of my success was from finding jobs on 104.com and making direct contact with people in charge of hiring. If you think that a hob hunt is simply hitting that apply button and waiting to hear back, then you’re not doing it right.
Remember, unless you’re dealing with a head hunter, most of the people in charge of hiring have other responsibilities. If you make their job easier to find a good candidate, well now, you just helped your new employer and yourself.
2. Don’t forget other job hunting platforms:
It’s easy to think that 104.com is the best website for finding your next job, but realistically, you’re more likely to have a random success with a few other places. Here a few to definitely check out.
Truthfully, I found Facebook to be more “internationally” friendly than most other platforms. I found my first job on Facebook groups, and got several interviews (though I’ll admit, not a lot of the companies that post on Facebook are the best).
3. Don’t focus on your language abilities too much
I’ve seen this a lot in resumes/CVs. Job hunters show off their Chinese language ability more than the skills that are actually required for the position. Don’t get me wrong, having Chinese is a plus for any office that is mostly Taiwanese. But don’t let it get in the way of your skills and experience.
Tailor your resume to be line with the job you’re applying for. Remember, you’re a foreign national in Taiwan, and chances are, you’re not going to be solely working in Mandarin. Sure, you might have to communicate internally in Chinese, but what’s setting you out from the crowd are your skills and experience.
I’ve seen too many people focus on their ability to speak Mandarin, when the reality is, it should only be a footnote on your resume, unless you’re going for a position that you need to show off your Chinese language abilities.
Conversational Mandarin in the office and meetings help, but it won’t be the sole reason you get a job.
4. Check out startups
You know where I get most of my interviews for? Startups in Taipei.
From hitting-the-ground-running startups, to mature ones, I’ve been part of a few. Think about it, who is most likely to hire foreign nationals? A company that is forward-thinking and wants to hit an international market.
I’d also recommend that graduates check out startups. They’re more likely to hire you.
Many larger Taiwanese companies are stagnating, and not many are looking internationally. Your best bet to find a job is to find startups that require someone with an insights into foreign markets mindset.
A word of warning though; Startups aren’t all fun. The flat management style, the chaos, and the lack of security means that you will need to manage yourself and your stress wisely.
Personally, I enjoy startup life, and I think working in that environment is down to the company culture and your own expectations.
Make sure to check out Taiwan Startup Stadium for some ideas about where you can get started on finding startups in Taiwan. I’d also subscribe to the Taipei Startup Digest newsletter to find out about startup jobs.
Funny thing is, I found my recent startup job on 104.com.
5. Be shameless in your job hunt
Research the top 10 companies you want to work for and then be shameless. Research who’s the head of HR, who is the decision-maker for the role you’re applying for, and call them. You’d be surprised how much that will go towards getting your next gig.
If that doesn’t work and you’re getting desperate, be even more shameless. Show up to offices, contact friends, family, hell, even your worst ex if you have to! Be shameless.
Now, I will say this; I draw the line of being shameless at the point where it becomes egotistical. Being shameless means going down every avenue to get a job you want. It is not about simple “self-promotion.” It’s much more than that. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone, and getting into your growth zone.
I’d also make sure to mention to never forget the people that help you. If you’re friend sticks their neck out for you, or if you connected with hundreds of people on LinkedIn and a few helped you, don’t forget to return the favor.
Be shameless, but don’t be destructive to connections and people.
6. Network, network, and network
No matter where you are in the world, networking is the foundation for all careers. There’s no such thing as a self-made person without the people that helped that person find their next gig.
The good news about Taiwan is that the international community holds regular events. One of my favorite organizations doing great work is “All Hands Taiwan.”
Whether you’re looking for your next career move, want to talk to other professionals in Taiwan, or just want to drink, the All Hands events are perhaps the best in Taiwan.
Finding a job in Taiwan for foreigners isn’t easy. I knew professionals that searched for over 6 months, and came out with nothing but businesses that didn’t now how to apply for work permits or ARCs and shady deals.
Despite all that, I will say this; if you want to find a job, you will. It might not be the best fit, and in this market, it rarely is. But finding a job anywhere isn’t easy, and it can take years to find what you want to do. The only difference between Taiwan and your home country is that it might take you longer.
I’ve been lucky in my own job hunting. I had a job right out of college, and I was able to job hunt while I worked full-time. Though, trying to duck out for an interview and hiding my crumpled up suit and hoping nobody would find it was not the funnest thing.
I think if you want to find a professional role in Taiwan, it’s down to persistence, and that persistence isn’t easy to maintain. If you’re heart is in Taiwan, then hopefully you can keep your motivation to not only be somewhere you want to live, but also to grow professionally.
If you have already found the resources page on All Hands Taiwan, I’d really recommend using it as a good starting point after reading this blog. Those guys have really helped to streamline the job hunting process in Taiwan.