Expats working in Taiwan will find themselves part of a continuously growing economy marked by low unemployment rates, rising salaries and increasing output. That said, most foreigners moving to the tiny island usually work in the ESL teaching industry or are transferred through multinational organisations.
As of the last century, Taiwan has exchanged its agrarian roots for electronic extensions to become a global player in the information technology and electronics market. The small nation is a prolific producer of computer-related products, and it continues to promote enterprise in technology-intensive industries.
As a result, many multinational firms, including over 20 of the top communication and technology companies in the world, have opened up branches in one of Taiwan's three major cities: Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung.
Job market in Taiwan
Taiwan's key industries include micro-processing, electronics, communications and technology development, and industrial processing. That said, it can be difficult for foreigners to find prominent positions working in these sectors.
There are management, finance, design and marketing positions available in Taiwan but expats will need to work hard to prove that they hold exceptional skills and a high level of education and experience. Expats will find that learning Mandarin is a great way to get a foot in the door. More opportunities will materialise for those with even a mediocre grasp of the language.
Overall, though, the most common jobs for expats in Taiwan are related to the English language itself, including teaching and translation.
Finding work in Taiwan
Due to the large number of international organisations that operate in the country, intra-company transfers are a primary source of employment opportunities for expats wanting to work in Taiwan. This is the easiest way for foreigners to find a job in the country, especially for those who wish to find a senior management position.
Foreigners can also search for jobs through online job portals and through local publications. Otherwise, expats should approach recruitment agencies who represent companies in Taiwan.
Work culture in Taiwan
In accordance with Confucian principles, maintaining a sense of harmony by carefully controlling one’s interpersonal relationships is paramount in Taiwanese business culture. Individualism is abandoned for the collective and in many cases, local work groups are a major source of identity for people.
Creating and sustaining relationships is therefore integral to doing business in Taiwan. Local enterprises rarely engage in negotiation before establishing a connection between the parties involved. Expats should take note of the practices that support this concept, like gift-giving, and should avoid rushing business dealings in order to allow for relationships to develop.
The concept of 'face', meaning a person's or company's dignity and prestige, governs all actions and behaviour both in leisure and work culture in Taiwan. Foreigners should keep this in mind and realise that decisions are often made to give face or save face – not necessarily to act in the best interest of the business.
In line with this, new arrivals should make all efforts to avoid confrontation in business. Any loud or angry outburst will be considered unforgivably rude. Indirect communication or no communication at all is viewed as preferable to causing a colleague to lose face.