Expats working in Taipei will find themselves at the centre of the Taiwanese economy. The city prides itself as a global leader in electronics and industrial manufacturing. The country's improved trade relationships and proximity to China have also led to more business opportunities in Taipei.
Foreigners need a work permit for Taiwan to take up employment legally, a process that the local employer must start.
Job market in Taipei
There are many employment opportunities for foreigners in Taipei. That said, aside from company transfers, opportunities for expats in Taiwan are concentrated in a few industries, such as IT, English teaching, translation, international trade and journalism. There are many English-language publications, so qualified expats may find work with a newspaper, magazine or other publishers. Long-term residents often start their own businesses, including bars, bakeries and restaurants.
If an expat has the right qualifications, however, they can usually find a job opportunity in their field. It's common to meet foreigners working in tech companies, accounting firms, banks, finance companies, pharmaceutical firms and more.
Finding a job in Taipei
Most foreigners with senior positions in Taipei have been transferred to the city by their companies back home. Finding a senior position can also be challenging, as most companies try to hire locally.
Expats searching for jobs in Taipei should look for listings on online job portals and through local publications. As there are many multinational companies in Taipei, jobseekers should also visit company-specific websites to see if any positions have been posted. Otherwise, expats should approach recruitment agencies that represent companies in Taiwan.
- 104 Job Bank: One of the most popular job search websites in Taiwan, offers job listings in various fields.
- 518 Job Bank: Another commonly used job portal in Taiwan with numerous listings.
- LinkedIn: An international platform where many companies post job vacancies. It's also a great tool for networking.
- Tealit: A useful resource for English teaching jobs and other work opportunities for foreigners in Taiwan.
Work culture in Taipei
One major complaint by expats and locals alike is that the 8am to 5pm workday in Taipei actually consists of longer hours than initially advertised. Expats may be asked to work on weekends and might get emails or phone calls from work as late as 10pm. It isn't uncommon for employers to expect their employees to finish projects or conduct research in their personal time. This doesn't apply to all Taiwanese companies, and many multinational companies have more familiar expectations of their employees.
Teachers and other hourly-wage workers may find themselves with more unpaid work than they think is fair. While it's uncommon for locals to protest these incursions into personal time, if they are polite, expats can establish boundaries regarding what they are willing to do and when they are willing to do it.
Business culture in Taiwan, following Confucian principles, sees maintaining a sense of harmony by carefully controlling one's interpersonal relationships as paramount. According to this line of thought, the most critical aspects of business culture in Taiwan are 'face' and guanxi (relationships).
Creating and sustaining relationships are integral to doing business in Taiwan. Expats should take note of the practices that support this concept, like gift-giving, and avoid rushing business dealings to allow for relationships to develop.
'Face' is a complicated concept relating to a person's dignity, prestige and reputation. Giving face, saving face and avoiding losing face is crucial in business in Taiwan. Therefore, expats should avoid doing or saying anything that will embarrass or bring shame to the company. Causing a collective group to 'lose face' negatively impacts business relations in Taiwan.
►For an overview of the housing market, read Accommodation in Taipei
"As an expat, assuming you’re an English teacher, you’ll make a decent salary and pay a relatively low rent. It’s possible to get by and save money with little difficulty." Read more of Nick's thoughts on working in Taiwan.
Are you an expat living in Taipei?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Taipei. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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