China's banking industry is dealing with some interesting challenges, but it remains a huge market for finance professionals, given its extensive and pervasive reach both domestically, and increasingly, internationally.
The good news is that while locals are preferred candidates, there are opportunities for professionals from other parts of the world. Chinese language skills are obviously extremely helpful, but experience of working in the world's major finance centres is in demand as China becomes an increasingly sophisticated financial hub. Skills needed include - among others - corporate and investment banking; deal origination; investment management; relationship management; compliance; and due diligence.
But before your fire off your CV, take heed of advice from recruiters well-seasoned in the Chinese job market:
Knowing the right way to position yourself when applying for a job in a very different part of the world can make all the difference between being asked to an interview or having your application being rejected.
Richard King, Michael Page MD for north and eastern China says there is no set format for a CV aimed at China. "But it is most important to highlight experiences and achievements in bullet-point format."
Simon Lance, regional director of Hays in China, says recruiters often expect to see more personal information than might be required elsewhere in the world, including the number and age of children. "Your education background is particularly important in China especially as foreigners require work visas. The 'Z' visa has strict requirements in China, which includes an educational degree."
Craig Brewer, director of banking and financial services at Hudson Global Resources, says Asia sets the bar high when it comes to academic qualifications. "Ensure that you list all of your professional qualifications and the dates that you attained them. With the bar being raised constantly for foreign workers across Asia, the more qualified you are the better."
A picture can sometimes be very helpful when included in a CV, but is not essential. But recruiters warn that it needs to be appropriate and professional. King says only a head and shoulders image of you in corporate attire should be included, if at all. Craig Brewer from Hudson says that given that you may be having a phone interview first up, it can be a good idea to include a photo of yourself as it helps give your CV an identity. "The photo of you at the company Christmas party or a BBQ does not count."
...substantiate your responsibilities and achievements with facts and figures. Lance says this information is important for prospective employers to help them evaluate your skill-sets and capabilities. "List concrete examples with numbers and positive results. This will be critical in securing an interview invitation."
...send a Chinese-language version of your CV, even if you don't have the language skills. King says: "If you are applying to a domestic Chinese business, they will often ask for a Mandarin version of your CV. If you are applying to a multinational, then an English version is a must."
... include a short cover letter that highlights your experience and identifies why you are a suitable candidate for the position. Brewer says letters are a valuable way to present yourself and stand out from the crowd. "But too many people recycle cover letters from one application to another. A cover letter should be brief, no more than three paragraphs, and must always be tailored to the role you are applying for. A letter is your chance to illustrate your strong communication skills and highlight your relevant skills and experience in a concise and professional manner."
...send CVs with spelling mistakes. This is a big no-no among Chinese recruiters, says Lance. And, he says, being negative about your current or previous employers is also a turn-off. "Keep it positive at all times."
...go overboard when describing your achievements. Brewer says achievements must sound realistic and relevant. "They will typically be a discussion point at interview, which means that they need to be relevant for the role on the table."
...highlight the responsibilities of roles you held more than 15 years ago, Brewer says. "A company name and job title is enough."