Best Tips to Optimize Your Job Search in Shanghai

Some of us may have come to Shanghai with a job, or with a partner, or just to teach English and find a career. Career wise, it feels like there’s so much potential in Shanghai for work as a professional woman. But sometimes that’s overwhelming as well; an exciting place like Shanghai can be so busy with jobs and projects… where do we put our energies?

Last night, IPWS hosted ‘How to Optimize Your Job Search in Shanghai’ at URBN Hotel, with Job Search experts:

  • Edmond Pang – Shanghai Business Director, HAYS Shanghai
  • Elena Andolin Müller – Executive Master Coach, Design Thinking Coach, Innovation Leadership Trainer
  • Beata Dziedzic – Assoc. CIPD, Cross-border Certified Career Coach & Social Recruiting Trainer

We asked our attendees what they learned, and here are the best TIPS to Optimize Your Job Search in Shanghai:

Picture or No Picture in CV?
Doesn’t really matter, because with social media, the recruiter will find your picture online if they want to. But always send your CV in Word format to recruiters as they need to copy & paste to forward to relevant people. PDF doesn’t work for them. AND, with every job you apply for, edit your CV for each position you apply… as it’s worth making your CV align with that particular job and company.

Picture on Linkedin
It’s the first thing the recruiter will see, so invest in making it a good one. Keep it professional, but not dull and without personality. But most importantly for LinkedIn, get recommendations from your previous colleagues!

LinkedIn – Summary & Title Debate
LinkedIn experts are divided when it comes to your LinkedIn Summary and Title: most recruiters will tell you to add as many keywords as possible, while many coaches suggest that you need to tell a story about yourself and your career. To be headhunted on LinkedIn, you will need both: High number of keywords in your profile, especially in your Summary and Title will carry your profile to the top of search results. A compelling story will help you raise recruiter’s interest. Other elements of a successful summary are a description of how you add value and media including pictures, videos, websites, and presentations. To answer the question: less is more, or more is more? Use all the available space to write up your Summary and Title.

Do an Inventory on Yourself
Identify what it is that you actually want to do and what you’re good at. Then think of companies you might want to work for. Highlight your niche, something special, which makes you stand out, helps to vamp up the CV. A great tip is to define your strength, choose the precise company you wish to work for, write a cover letter (half a page maximum) explaining why that company should hire you, what they will gain by having you on the team etc… Then sent this message to company GM (not to HR, and not to some random person who work there).

Write about Your Industry & Your Experience
To increase SEO on LinkedIn, to sound professional and active in your industry, you might like to try writing about it. If you’re interested in writing about professional women in Shanghai, IPWS would be happy to receive any potential articles, email for more details.

How to Pursue a Job
Try to find ways to connect with the line manager or the person who will actually make the end decision of hiring you. When you have a chance to meet them, they will be thinking “what’s in it for me?” – give them a reason why you would be more valuable to them than other potential candidates. If you don’t pursue the person in question through the usual job-seeking channels, try to build a relationship first before pushing for them to hire you. So, one of the best pieces of advice was to get in touch with Operations managers and directors instead of HR as they are the ones who know who they want to hire.

First Impressions are Everything
When you’re in a networking or interview situation, make sure to communicate in a way that raises their interest. Be confident and carry yourself well. It’s not only about what you say, but so much about non-verbal communication (how you shake their hand, how you conduct yourself, your attitude, what you wear etc). And try to find clothes in colors that flatter you skin-tone – it can make a huge difference.

Women have an Advantage in Shanghai
Many industries and companies are still male-dominated, and companies are now focusing on diversity. In many cases, if you have one man and one woman candidate with otherwise the exact same background and experience, usually the woman gets the job.

Career Transition
If you’re concerned about being “too old”, it might be easier to get your foot in the door at small and medium sized companies. Be realistic, as you transition you may need to go down in salary and start at a more junior level. Also, consider roles that may not be the exact dream job, but related to it, and once you have your foot in the door you can prove yourself and your value to the company.

Learn Chinese
It’s not about being fluent, in a lot of cases it gives you a huge advantage if you can at least conduct a casual conversation in order to build a better relationship with potential clients etc. So there’s no particular HSK-level that will give you the job, it’s about being able to make easy conversation to help your company with building relationships.

Just Do It: Apply
Women tend to not apply for positions if they are missing 1% of the requirements, whereas men apply even if they have only half of the requirements in the job description … So the advice for women is: just do it and apply!