How I found a job in Taiwan

December 2015, I said goodbye to my life in Paris, I was an IT project manager in a french-belgian retail company, taking care of ~500 checkout machines software, and ~900 card reader terminals into a nice small girl team when I decided to quit to go to live in Taiwan.

Houston, we have a problem

So I directly started looking for a job in my new country, trying to reach some contacts I had in the small French IT retail world. Some big french retailers are presents in Taiwan (Carrefour, Decathlon) and I had friends working for them in France. I got some interviews, but I quickly understood that to work in my field (project management, business analysis and QA) which include a lot of interactions with end users, I had one big problem, I cannot speak their language! I thought that speaking English would be enough but really, it was not as in most of these companies, local employees can only speak chinese.

B Plan: Learn Chinese

After one month, and still no job, I decided to learn Chinese and look for a job at the same time. Learning Chinese is not easy, as you may know speaking is hard because of the tones you have to remember but I was confident in my future progression. Come on I applied to an INTENSIVE mandarin class with ~ 6h every day of the week from Monday to Friday. I was really focused doing all my homeworks like the perfect student I was.

What about local companies

During this time I tried to understand how local job seekers look for a job. I discovered, #1 website for job seekers in Taiwan. Of course everything is in Chinese and the interface and even the logic of the interface is different from our European website.

I spent hours to fill in my profile using google translation in Chrome. I finally applied to maybe 10 companies, only for project management/business analysis/QA jobs requiring a good english level. I got 3 interviews, in one of these companies I even got 2 interviews in the same week…but same problem, my chinese level wasn’t high enough or maybe it was just a pretext to say no, I will never know.

Dear classmate

In my Chinese class I met a Spanish guy, an IT engineer like me, I didn’t mention it but I majored a master’s degree in IT engineering and then decided to focus on QA and Business Analysis.

He told me that he just quitted a job to learn Chinese as his company environment wasn’t really nice. Are you crazy? It’s really hard to get a job here how can you decide to quit? Is it that easy to find a job as a web developer?

He said that actually it wasn’t “easy” but it was more accessible as language is less important. Even if he wasn’t very experimented, it was his first job!

Let’s become a developer then

I decided to continue with Chinese lessons for 6 months as everybody said that it was enough for daily life mandarin. On morning I had my Chinese classes and in the afternoon I had my web dev online video exercices. Thanks to Udemy, I focused on the basics: HTML5, CSS3 and JS. My IT background helped me a lot.

After 2 intensive month watching my online classes, I started to build a portfolio. I did websites with fake content, small javascript games and put them online on my github.

After the end of my Chinese class I took some holidays visiting my family in Martinique, I also spent some time working on my portfolio.

Back to business

As soon as I came back to Taiwan I applied to web development jobs. First interview, everything seemed good during our meeting but they never called me back.

Second one, they asked me for so many skills, I didn’t lie and said I can just do HTML, CSS and JS and some JS frameworks basics (but, hey, I can learn fast!), they said I was too junior for them.

Keep going!

Third interview, a young company, they called me at 10am asking if we could meet up the same day at 2PM. I said yes and checked the address on Google Map, OMG this company is 900m from my home! I want this job!

We had the interview, mix of English and Chinese, everybody was nice, cool environment. They said that they had to meet more people and that they will decide and call me back next Wednesday. Wednesday: big disappointment, no phone call.

Thursday I called them: they said that they are late and that they will call me next week.

Monday…Tuesday…Wednesday… no call. No more hope.

I called them on Thursday, feeling like a stalker, they said that they would like to hire me but because of VISA issues they are not sure, they never hired a foreigner before, they have to check…

Do you really want that job?

I tried one last thing, I asked the HR guy of a company having experience hiring foreigners to call this company to help them to deal with my potential VISA issues.

Actually, it’s worse than that, I asked to a contact I had in this company to ask his HR responsible for me. HR guy finally accepted to help me.

Now, they had no excuse :D

They finally called me back to say it was OK.

That’s how I got the job!

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