For better or worse, the single greatest advancement in job search resources for foreigners in Taiwan in the past decade is the formation of a handful of large and somewhat active job-related Facebook groups (many are listed here). For all the benefits of these groups – access to job postings across industries, detailed hiring info, lively discussions about salaries, language ability, and more – they tend, like all large social media groups, to become something of a minefield. The question is, how do you navigate these groups to your own greatest benefit while avoiding pitfalls, confusion, and/or frustration? Here are a few tips to help you do just that.
1. Don’t limit your job search to these groups.
Sounds obvious because it is. These Facebook groups are increasingly useful for monitoring the job market, following trends and discussions, and learning about new companies and industries. But these aren’t the only resources out there and they shouldn’t be treated as such. Among other things, there are more and more English language listings on 104, Contact Taiwan is trying to figure itself out, and there are university and other job fairs. Best of all, there is the All Hands Resources Page, an ever-growing repository of places to look for jobs and network. Beyond all that, there is you. To get a job you want in Taiwan it’s on you to network, email, follow up, improve your resume, fill your portfolio, volunteer, intern, and generally do whatever it takes to land a position you’re happy with.
2. Use the groups as a testing ground.
Over time you’re likely to see many job postings that are related to something you might like to do. If you’ve never had a non-teaching job in Taiwan, treat these postings as an opportunity to learn and practice. Interviews, companies, and HR people are different everywhere. Distribute your resume widely and take every interview you’re offered. Learn from what you see and hear. Practice interviewing, networking, and negotiating. An interview that doesn’t result in a full-time offer can still result in a productive networking or freelance opportunity.
3. Ask questions.
In addition to the tactics suggested above, there’s one even more direct method to use when learning from the boards – ask questions. You can ask for clarifications of job descriptions or other details in the comments section. Additionally, this is a fantastic chance to ask a real HR person a few questions. Send the poster a DM and use that opportunity to see what you can learn not only about said company/opening, but also about the hiring processes in Taiwan. The most useful secondhand information I’ve ever obtained about job seeking in Taiwan has been learned from HR people and recruiters.
4. Monitor posted salaries.
Anyone who’s spent time on these boards know that salaries are a hot topics in this community. To better understand where companies value talent similar to yours, pay attention. If the numbers you see don’t impress you, don’t freak out. Remember that these are target salary ranges. Also bear in mind that most Taiwan companies have little or no experience employing foreigners, so they simply may not know about common salary expectations. The long and short of it is that if you can sell yourself as more valuable than the posted salary, then get an interview and show them just how valuable you are. Firsthand experience tells me that it’s often possible to negotiate a salary high above what’s posted.
5. Don’t read or feed the trolls.
You don’t have to spend much time on the groups to notice that there are some disgruntled people in the job seeking community. While you may see people engaging in contentious commenting about the reputation of a particular company or a posted salary range (a couple of common examples), take anything you read in these situations with a heavy grain of salt and avoid getting involved. Job hunting is stressful enough, don’t call attention to yourself unnecessarily. These conversations aren’t likely to be productive and you never know if a prospective employer might come across your comments while learning about the group.
Don’t forget that you’re in control of how you conduct yourself in the jobs groups. You never know what you’ll see from one day to the next, but if you’re diligent and strike when an opportunity looks hot, these can be fantastic resources in your job hunt. These are the most basic maxims that have helped me navigate the job boards thus far. If you’ve got more suggestions, I’d love to hear them.