Expats working in Taiwan will find themselves part of a steadily growing economy marked by low unemployment rates, rising salaries and increasing output. Most foreigners moving to the island work in the ESL teaching industry or are transferred through multinational organisations.
Over the past century, Taiwan has exchanged its agrarian roots for electronic extensions to become a global player in the information technology and electronics market. The island 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 world's top communication and technology companies, 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. Learning Mandarin is a great way to get a foot in the door. More opportunities will materialise for those with even a moderate understanding 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 here, 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 here, especially for those who wish to find a senior management position.
Foreigners can also search for jobs through online job portals and local publications. Otherwise, expats should approach recruitment agencies that represent companies in Taiwan.
- 104 Job Bank – One of the largest job portals in Taiwan, with thousands of job postings.
- LinkedIn – An excellent resource for finding jobs and networking with professionals in Taiwan.
- Tealit – A good site for foreigners, particularly English teachers, looking for work in Taiwan.
- Robert Walters – A reputable recruitment agency that has extensive connections with 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 significant source of identity for people.
Therefore, creating and sustaining relationships is integral to doing business in Taiwan. Local enterprises rarely negotiate 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.
The concept of 'face', meaning a person's or company's dignity and prestige, governs all actions and behaviour in Taiwan's leisure and work culture. Foreigners should keep this in mind and realise that decisions are often made to give face or save face.
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 or no communication at all is preferable to causing a colleague to lose face.
Are you an expat living in Taiwan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Taiwan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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