When I graduated college I worked for half a year in a temporary front office position at the Staybridge Inn & Suites in Times Square, NYC. Sounds nice right? Well, it wasn’t all that bad, except I wanted a life-style change. Now I know what you’re thinking… what recent graduate is talking about life-style change when we’re just beginning well, I had been to China a few times to study abroad and I just felt I wanted a more international life-style and New York isn’t where I’m meant to be at that time.
So I wanted to work as a front desk agent in China, which you’ll find out why that was lunacy and near impossible, and I had very little luck finding anything; actually let’s tell the truth, I applied to over 300+ internationally branded hotels in many cities for a front desk agent and never got a reply.
Now I’m a firm believer in this belief that I have; actually I’m going to make it a “Cooper quote, from here on out, officially a thing in this blog. #cooperquote
“The internet doesn’t hire people, people hire people” – Daniel Cooper #cooperquote
What I mean is that from then on, I stopped applying online for hotel jobs; I needed to find the person who would hire me, or, could influence my application and reach out to them directly. In most hotels the General Manager is the highest position which led me to my next revelation… (Don’t get upset with me HR people)
“If I apply online I’m at the bottom of the barrel, if I can send a nice email to the GM or my department manager and have them forward it, I’ll be at the top of the barrel and likely to get a response” – Daniel Cooper #cooperknowledge
***I promise not to sugarcoat anything in this blog just, FYI***
When I got my first interview using my new method, new to me anyway, because again, the internet never contained this information, maybe because it’s a crazy method, but I had no idea how to do it, so I made my own way; anyway I was contacted by the HR at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Shanghai for a position of a Duty Manager and the interviews were conducted on Skype.
Most of the time, the hotel will either call you (they can call internationally obviously) but more commonly will Skype you for two reasons. One, you’re not in China, and two, they want to see what you look like; looks are a thing in Asia and influence your hiring prospects, anyone who says otherwise is sugarcoating in fact, you need to include your picture in your CV which is basically your resume.
The first interview is with the HR manager or director, hiring an expatriate is a big deal abroad, so the big wigs have to interview you of course, second interview was with the director of the department, and final interview is with the General Manager or Hotel Manager.
After you pass the interviews and get an offer, congrats, you have to produce a ton of documents such as your college degree, former employment letters providing proof you worked where you said you did since they’re not going to call your past properties, a copy of your passport, criminal background check (don’t be a crook) and in 1-2 months your letters will be in the mail to go get yourself a work visa and head to China!
That’s the how anyway, now, why did it work out for me?
To be honest with you guys and everyone has a different experience, also, I’m African American, which will be a whole other story, but it does give you additional obstacles but other opportunities as well, I got the job because I had something they needed and they had something I wanted.
In simpler terms, they were using me and I was using them.
I did take a pay cut, which you shouldn’t have to, maybe the gross salary isn’t as high, but there are many perks, which I’ll discuss in another article. I was paid around $1,200 a month, base salary in Shanghai which can be just as expensive as NYC and had $800 as housing allowance which means I pay first and they reimburse me. To scale it even more, the position that I had, equivalent in NYC would be making around $2500 a month after tax, but the standard of living was similar, until you learn to live like a local.
They hired me because I spoke Chinese, accepted a lower salary, was a native English speaker, and was from NYC so I knew how to handle crazy oversold situations; also I could wear 3 hats at once, and teach free English to the staff, so for them total win.
For me, although I knew I was getting low-balled and I had other offers, the decision was like this:
Hotel Indigo Shanghai: Management Trainee position
Intercontinental Shanghai hotel: Management Trainee
Le Méridien Hotel Qingdao: (different city, beautiful city!) Management Trainee
Holiday Inn Weihai (also a different city): Management Trainee
Grand Hyatt Shanghai: Duty Manager!
So I could be an intern, or jump into management “oh boy my first management position!”
I accepted the Grand Hyatt offer; also I knew that I wasn’t in the greatest position to haggle or get into management in NYC, so I knew if I took this position, I could move up and gain more China experience which will further my career there and at home.
So I got my papers in the mail, booked the cheapest economy ticket, a one-way ticket 🙂 and I was in China to start my new job and new life!
My advice is when it comes to China, just as back home; persistence in job hunting is a must. However you also need thick skin, there is some prejudice about how you look, which country or city you’re from, which school you attended etc. If possible, learn some Chinese, it will boost your prospects greatly, and finally, unless you receive an “expatriate” salary package, which I will discuss later, brace yourself to live a more frugal life with a pay cut. It was okay for me because of the title, position offered, and the experience I would gain, make sure you’re okay with it before you accept!
Thanks for stopping by and see you next time!