I received an email from an Italian Engineer who received an offer from a Shanghai company of 10,000 RMB (about 1,400 USD) per month salary in Shanghai. He asked whether it is high or low for a foreign engineer. I believe this is a very common question to ask for people considering a Shanghai job, so I want to spend today’s blog talking about this issue again.
Before you continue reading, I believe my previous articles on the same topic may help:
- Foreign Job Seekers Move to Shanghai Oct 31, 2007
- Is 10,000RMB/Month a Ridiculous Offer? Apr 6, 2005
- Salary in Shanghai – Part II May 19, 2004
- Salary in Shanghai Jan 6, 2004
- Find a Job in Shanghai Aug 20, 2003
The Line Between “Foreign Candidate” and “Local Candidate” for a Job
Things change dramatically in the last 5 years since I started my blog. Just I talked in the
article: Foreign Job Seekers Move to Shanghai, more and more foreign people are moving to Shanghai to seek for job. I cannot imagine it when I was a college student 10 years ago, but it is turning into reality.
20-10 years ago, only senior people come to Shanghai, like the General Manager for a business, or those senior managers for a plant. They came as part of the move in of international companies. They receive really high salary, not only by the standard of local salary level, but also by the standard of their peers working in their home country – the hardship bonus is a very big part of their pay. At that time, the gap of salary level between foreigners and local employees are very high, easily 5 – 10 times difference. However, to be fair, the gap is not only because of their foreign status, but also because of their roles in the company. There are not many people who can take those roles when China just started its journey of internationalization, and/or market economy.
Recent years, more and more senior positions are filled by local people since the younger generation have grown up in China, while more and more junior positions are open to foreign job seekers. This changed the landscape of the comparison of local and foreign people’s salary a lot.
Foreign, or Local is not the Key for a Job
Although for some positions, it is still an important factor, but generally, less and less jobs are tied to nationality. Like software engineer position, talented young college graduate from China is apply (as always in the last 20 years), and more and more foreign college graduates are joining the race, as the number of resumes I received and my friends received from abroad indicates… For higher level jobs, like a marketing manager or GM, local MBAs are competing with international MBAs.
In this situation, foreign job seekers have to face one thing that they may not like, that is, they have to face the competition from the local talent. This is not a very good thing since in the competition for jobs, especially for relatively lower end jobs, foreign candidates do not have obvious advantage, especially for the expected salary.
10,000 RMB is a very decent salary package for local engineers (with few years of experience), while it is an Ridiculous Offer for an engineer in London. On the other hand, the quality of local engineers are more and more competitive with the recent educational system.
Accept it or Something…
Now let’s get back to the original question. If 10,000 RMB/month is the market standard for the position, I don’t think a foreign candidate has too much negotiation power to change it, unless it is a position that only foreigners can fill. My friend shared the story with me. She interviewed a candidate for his position, and he is qualified for it. She said, “I am happy to accept you, but I can only offer 1/10 of the salary you are earning now.” That is the cold reality. (For people who are curious, the candidate I talked about finally accepted the offer).
If that is the case, you can only take it or leave it. If you feel that is not acceptable, maybe find another place to apply for a job. I know it is no longer paradise as the early days in Shanghai – backpacker foreigners who can speak English earns much more than local professor or manager by teaching English lessons on their part-time. The good old time just past.
What does 10,000 RMB/month means?
It is a decent salary, if not a “impossible” salary for most of people. It is good enough. You can leave decent local life and you can be much better than many people.
This brings in another interesting question: I heard Shanghai is one of the most expensive city to live, isn’t it?
My insight for this is, if you want to live western developed country life here, it is even more expensive than western cities. For example, cars are much more expensive than any city in US, and golf can cost your 10,000 RMB in one week easily….
However, if you go to local good restaurants (not those for expats, which charges more than a whole dinner for a beer), or take public transportation, or even taxi, it is very good for you.
So finally, good luck to you and other foreign job seekers to Shanghai. The good thing is, finally, the job market in Shanghai and China opens to foreigners, but the problem is, as you can imagine, the competition started.