Shanghai has become the first choice of foreigners who wish to work in China. The number of foreigners choosing to work in Shanghai is growing at a very fast pace since year 2000.
According to Shanghai's labor and social security bureau, during the first quarter of 2004, an average of 50 foreigners were authorized daily. Competition for jobs is heating up, especially with more returning Chinese students with high educational qualifications who choose to reside in Shanghai in search for better employment opportunities.
For others wishing to work and live in Shanghai, the ability to find suitable work is largely dependent on your skills, qualifications, experience and ability to speak the language, your contacts (guanxi) and expectations (salary and other terms of employment). The last two factors play a key role in securing employment in Shanghai.
Take note that most expatriates on comfortable expatriate packages in Shanghai tend to be recruited from their home country. These are usually middle to senior level management positions. If you are planning to come to Shanghai looking for work, be prepared to carry out the legwork by yourself. A good way to get started is to start networking to build up your contacts (guanxi). In addition, start learning Mandarin. More and more expatriates are finding it harder to find employment if they do not speak the language, as there are increasing numbers of highly qualified individuals who are effectively multi-lingual. Finally, be prepared to lower your expectations in terms of salary.
The 'traditional' jobs many expatriates have been in demand for are modeling, acting and teaching English. Among the three, teaching English has become increasingly competitive in recent years, given the influx of English-speaking foreigners into Shanghai.