Bar is set lower for people with a "foreign face"?

I’m not talking just in the Buxibans, but in general here. It’s pretty much an open secret that the bar to get work for a foreigner in a Buxiban is quite low.

I was talking to a friend recently who managed to get out of the Buxiban rat race and got a job as a tech writer at a respectable company. He is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, but he said that he managed to “break in” in March of this year, and by October was headhunted by two other companies, including the one he’s working at now. He did so with relative ease (a phone call and in-person interview), and in a short time period.

I mentioned this to my Taiwanese-American friend who has a master’s in a tech field. His Chinese isn’t the best. Although it’s passable, in that he can converse, understand newspapers, and Taiwanese TV, he might not be able to sit in meetings and deliver a detailed business speech in Chinese. He however speaks English natively and speaks Japanese amazingly well. This Taiwanese-American friend said he sent out 500+ applications in things like tech writing and engineering, gotten maybe a handful of interviews, and has yet to get accepted at a job.

Apparently the Taiwanese-American guy said he was given an impromptu essay to write in English, or to make an impromptu business speech in Chinese, told his accent made him hard to understand, etc.

Is it really that bad in Taiwan where you will be held to a higher standard depending on what passport you hold and how you look?

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Do you think it’s not like this in other places? Why single out Taiwan?

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This is true around most of Asia, but the blog is called Forumosa, Im guessing people in Thailand or Mainland China Forumns complain the same about it there.

White supremacy

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Yup.

I think actually other than Buxibans and a few sales positions its much harder for foreigners to get jobs in Taiwan.

For Buxiban its definitely the case that a White Italian or French person who has a thick accent and poor grasp of English will in many cases get the job over an American, Australian or Canadian Taiwanese who speaks English natively

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Yeah I’m sure there are many situations where the wheel would turn the other way.

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We can be cheaper to the employer in some ways. Pensions for example.

First of all this forum is about Taiwan, so I’m not singling out Taiwan. Second, usually in other places, the bias is against those who look foreign. In America, you’re less likely to get a software engineering job with a foreign sounding name (such as a Latino or Asian sounding one):

According to the report, Latino candidates are 26 percent less likely to get hired than white people while Asians are a whopping 45 percent less likely.

To answer OP’s question in a few words, if you’re in a company that does a lot of business with foreigners, non-Taiwanese and non-Asians might have an easier time. I was turned down from a front-end/localization job and I remember when I visited that particular department, it was 90% foreigners. On another occasion I lost a job to a guy who had only A1 in the TOCFL exam. Another example would be where the job of course exclusively revolves around using English.

I believe that if you’re a foreigner that can speak passable Chinese and even a few words of Taiwanese, they’ll be so stunned by your ability to say “tsia ba beh?” and “paih se” that they’re willing to forgo a lot of other lack of experience or knowledge.

Meanwhile, if you’re Taiwanese, you could be held to slightly higher standards, certainly in terms of your Mandarin knowledge, if not also in experience and general job knowledge. A lot of Taiwanese people love to point out that I apparently have a strong Brooklyn accent when I speak Mandarin, for instance.

I doubt very much that happens, as cool as it sounds to say.

A more likely scenario is that a native speaking white dude could possibly get hired ahead of an ethnically Chinese native speaker with higher qualifications.
Or, as is often the case, the Chinese teacher gets paid way less, that happens too.

Technical qualifications are only minimally relevant in Tech Writing positions, they’ve already got a load of EEs there, they don’t need another.
Being able to compose and edit (and do graphical layout and information architecture, frequently) are vastly more applicable skills.

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Was your Taiwanese-American friend born in the U.S., or did he immigrate at primary school, junior high, high school age? This factor can make a big difference in level of English fluency, especially when it comes to writing. Also, the hit rate for sending out applications is extremely low in any case. Getting a good job here, as in most places, is about hustling and connections.

Some of the problems that overseas Chinese face in being hired for positions that require English proficiency is that a lot of local Taiwanese say they are “American-Chinese” or even “ABCs” despite being nothing of the sort. Some immigrated when they were young, some went to college in a foreign country and, in a few cases that I can remember, simply studied abroad for some period of time. Ideally, a company would have people who are able to determine such things but I imagine that’s not always the situation.

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Sorry, just noticed this:

In Taiwan???

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Yeah that part sounds like BS

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For tech jobs I felt being a vanilla face worked against me once or twice and for me once. A couple where I had already completed the online testing, before they met me managed to sneak in a question on email about my Chinese ability. It was hidden among a bunch of other bullshit questions that had no bearing on anything. Suffice to say it was radio silence after I said my Chinese is rubbish. Another startup that wanted to be all nerd cool and have a few stickered laptop Patagonia vest wearing nerd whiteboys walking around, thinking that somehow made them look more international, it probably worked for me. Glad I’m not working anywhere locally anyway, most office building lobbies I ventured into stank like shit, as though the ducting wasn’t properly installed to carry away all the sewage odours…

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Maybe all to the same company?

“Let’s see if we have any new candidates toda…OH GOD, NOT THAT GUY AGAIN, WHY”

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He’s 2nd-generation ABC. As in his parents moved, married in America, and gave birth to him there.

Some of the problems that overseas Chinese face in being hired for positions that require English proficiency is that a lot of local Taiwanese say they are “American-Chinese” or even “ABCs” despite being nothing of the sort. Some immigrated when they were young, some went to college in a foreign country and, in a few cases that I can remember, simply studied abroad for some period of time. Ideally, a company would have people who are able to determine such things but I imagine that’s not always the situation.

True. I think those guys ruin it for the rest of us. When I was a teacher I knew a couple of kids who had US passports simply because one of their parents lived there long enough to naturalize. Most Taiwanese employers do not speak good English and can’t tell apart the “true-blue” Chinese-Americans from the fakers.

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In Taiwan???

Not all in Tech Writing which would be absurd. Some were in engineering, or tech writing, some were in translating. I’m not a tech person so I don’t know the details of what kind of job he was applying for. When he got desperate he started applying to things like marketing, sales, teaching, and so on.

I’m not going to say it, it’s someone else’s turn.

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Would it be considered fraud if you used a very western sounding name (first and last), and put on make ups and fake nose to fool HR?

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