Studying Chinese Can Benefit Your Career – But Why?
As it becomes easier to communicate, travel, and do business across country borders; it is an uncontroversial statement that knowing languages can give you an edge in your career. As the Chinese economy is continuing it’s rapid growth, and Chinese businesses are looking abroad for more opportunities, knowing Chinese can be an extra boost in your professional life. In this post I will outline some ways that Chinese might be good for you and your career in both China and your home country. I will also give some real world examples of people who know Chinese and how knowing Chinese helped them get ahead.
Knowing Chinese in China
Knowing Chinese in China is of course a large advantage. If you are looking for a job in China and you don’t know Chinese you are already at a disadvantage.
There are, percentage wise, few jobs in China that don’t require Chinese, and the competition for those jobs is very fierce. Just knowing Chinese to a working level will open up many more opportunities for you at the job seeking stage. Chinese companies aren’t afraid to give promotions if you are good enough. If you land a job in China and apply yourself, you can end up high in the company hierarchy in a shorter time than it would take in most Western countries.
Even if you manage to land a position which doesn’t require Chinese, knowing Mandarin will still most likely get you ahead in China. By speaking the local language you can engage with your colleagues and managers on a different level. No matter how well they might speak English, by engaging them in their own language you will establish relationships on a whole different level.
The Chinese workplace is still very much centred on interpersonal relationships. If you want to advance in your career you need to have the support of your colleagues and managers.
Chinese isn’t only important due to the interpersonal relationships. If the company in question consists of a majority of Chinese people then most likely all meetings and announcements will be done in Chinese. Understanding Mandarin will help you know whats going on around you.
One personal friend of mine learned Chinese and passed the HSK 6 exam. While on exchange in China from his university he got a part time job as a technical translator at an European company. Just before graduating, he was hired by the same company as operations manager, in part due to his excellent Chinese language ability, as well as his professional skills.
Knowing Chinese Outside China
It is no secret that China’s economy has been in a state of high growth. Combined with a gradual but sustained opening up, it is no secret that Chinese language skills are getting more and more sought after around the world.
However, unless you are aiming to become a translator, just having language skills might not be enough. Chinese combined with a marketable skill like programming, marketing or something else can be a very powerful combination indeed. This can act as a door opener to get into an industry or company which normally would be difficult to access. One friend of mine landed a job, straight out of university, at Scandinavia’s leading law firm on the back of her Chinese language skills combined with her law degree. A company which normally only hires very experienced candidates. A search for jobs requiring Chinese language nets over 90,000 results in the US alone on LinkedIn for example. Industries as varied as automotive, tourism, media, retail, pharmacy and aviation among others are looking for Chinese speakers.
In addition to Chinese language, if you also know and understand Chinese culture and how things are done in China, this can likewise give you a boost in your career.
For example, regional managers who speak Chinese and understand China will have an advantage over their less worldly colleagues. This can be a short-cut for you to get into a management role.
Language and culture will also help in negotiating with Chinese counterparts, whether it is buying or selling, getting a good deal will surely make you an indispensable part of any team.
Summing up how Chinese can benefit your career
China keeps growing, both economically and influentially. Knowing Chinese can of course help your career. It can open new doors, help keep on top of what’s going on in the office, negotiating, taking care of suppliers and customers, the possibilities are endless. However, knowing only Chinese language will in most cases not be enough to improve your career. Combine Chinese language with Chinese culture, and a marketable skill and you will surely end up as a very in-demand employee. On top of this, we haven’t even discussed how knowing Chinese language can help you in running your own business!
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