Ask Esther // 33

Dear Esther,

I have nearly 5 years experience in big multinational agencies, and some pretty meaty international awards under my belt recently. Question is: my parter (life partner, not creative partner) have a plan to spend a year or so in China reasonably soon… And I’m wondering how difficult it will be for me to find work in an agency there. (I’m VERY much a beginner at Mandarin.) Will my Australian experience and my awards make up for my lack of Chinese? Or should I just read the (jasmine) tea leaves and start planning some alternatives?

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Dear Gong Xi Fa Cai,

What a great question. I have called upon the wisdom of recruiters and ex-pats who are currently working in or with the market. These tips should at least get you started on your quest:

Unless you are dripping in those awards, the agency might not want to foot the bill for relocating you to China. Five years and awards is good, but not going to be enough experience for agencies to throw bells and whistles into the package. It might also depend on the number of foreigners they already have in the company if there’s a quota.

Have an online portfolio of versatile work. DO NOT tell a prospective employer you only intend staying a year. You might not be worth the effort to get involved with.

Research and list out the agencies of interest to you operating in China. Agency/Network websites or a directory such as Campaign Asia Pacific or LinkedIn will be helpful.

Agencies with a more local bent and local clients will care more about language. The multinationals with multinational clients can find room for English speaking creatives, especially if they bring relevant experience, profile, awards, etc. You are competing with the locals for a job and any advantage with recognition will help.

Much of China based agency work is going to be local campaigns. You need to poke around and find the global accounts being run out of either Shanghai or Beijing. (Let’s just assume Shanghai is Sydney and Beijing is Canberra creatively).

Being on the ground in China, interviewing and networking will go a long way towards getting a fulltime position or freelance. It will be harder to land a role from Australia but not impossible if you have the work and awards they are interested in.

hao yùn (good luck)

You can ask Esther Clerehan anything about putting your book together, getting a job, what salary to ask for or what to do when someone steals your ideas. Go on, Ask Esther. There is no other creative recruiter with more experience to educate us on the art of the job hunt. You can email her here at junior at (wtf null@null lifeatthebottom

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 14/02/2013
Category: Ask Esther
Tagged: .