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Job-seeking IT pro? Head for China

But you'll probably need to speak the lingo, recruiter warns

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China’s explosive economic growth has led to a boom in job opportunities for ex-pat IT managers who fancy a new challenge, although the market remains intolerant of those without the requisite language skills or cultural know-how, according to a leading recruiter.

The newly released Salary & Employment forecast 2012 (PDF) from international job-hunter Michael Page makes for interesting reading for IT professionals with itchy feet.

It points to “consistent jobs growth for technology professionals” in banking, financial services and commercial companies as well as in the booming tech industry in China.

Senior IT managers are especially sought after for financial services and commercial entities headquartering their businesses in the economic hub of Shanghai, while opportunities for experienced tech pros are on the increase in the southern boom town of Shenzhen, home to ZTE and Huawei, among others.

The huge growth in e-commerce firms led by home-grown giants like Taobao and Dangdang is fuelling demand for product development roles while SAP and ERP app management skills are also increasingly sought after, the report found.

Michael Page managing director for north and east China, Andy Bentote, told The Reg that the opportunities for ex-pat IT pros in China are definitely growing, because “China is not creating enough quality candidates to keep up with the pace of growth of the country”.

“Traditionally we only dealt with multinationals but we’re starting to deal now with local companies as they become more international,” he added.

“They’re expanding overseas and developing their business and there’s a sweet spot there for ex-pats because they want to become more international and understand what it takes to be successful.”

However, he struck a word of caution that across the entire Michael Page International business in China, only around 5 per cent of successful candidates will be non-locals and the majority of those are in senior, managerial roles.

“It’s very hard to move over here at that level if you’re changing companies,” he warned. “If you want to move to China you might have the technical and management skills, but do you have the Chinese language skills and understand the company?”

Those who aren’t applying for a transfer or promotion internally to their firm’s Chinese outpost will therefore usually need at least some Mandarin skills and probably also have to demonstrate an understanding of what is required culturally to work in a Chinese office, he said. ®

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