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 legally take up employment, a process that must be started by a local employer.
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 with other publishers. Long-term residents often start up their own businesses, including bars, bakeries and restaurants.
If an expat has the right kind of qualifications, however, they may be able to 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 company back home. Apart from this, it can be difficult to find a senior position, 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, job seekers should also visit company-specific websites to see if any positions have been posted. Otherwise, expats should approach recruitment agencies who represent companies 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.
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, it is possible for expats to establish boundaries regarding what they are willing to do and when they are willing to do it.
Business culture in Taiwan, in accordance with 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 important 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 should avoid rushing business dealings in order 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 extremely important in business in Taiwan. Expats should therefore avoid doing or saying anything that will embarrass or bring shame to the company. Causing a collective group to 'lose face' has an extremely negative impact on 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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