Chinese contract “flexibility” and other problems, or
Keeping a “Plan B” and “Plan C” in your back pocket
In the Western world, we tend to think of things like contacts as being written “in stone”, inflexible and followed to the letter. But in China contracts may sometimes be viewed as being “flexible”. Some employers may see contracts as guidelines rather than as the hard and fast rules of an employment agreement.
This can mean that your employer may not do the things they said they would do. May ask you to do things you did not initially agree to do. You may not be compensated for extra work you do when you think you should be. You may not like those problems. It may be time to move on.
Plan B and Plan C
When you do your research about your job, keep a second and third choice in your mind, just in case things don’t work out for Plan A. Keep these in the back of your mind, keep your resume up to date, and fish to see what is out there from time to time. With a decent Plan B and Plan C you won’t have to worry about a surprise.
There is also the possibility that you just won’t like the job you took, or the city you moved to, the people you work with, or some other unforeseen problem may sour you on the whole deal. This sometimes happens in your home country and it can happen in China too.
Your First Country – Your First Job
Keep open the possibility of going back home. Don’t burn your bridges to anywhere, ever. You just never know when you might need to head back where you were last year. I’ve never had to back track, but I do try to keep my options open. I try to leave every employer on good terms, with them ready for my return. I try to maintain and network with people from previous employment. And, it all works both ways – you might need to help a friend come to where you are some day.
You may never need your Plan B
I am just cautious by nature, and the TEFL world might be just a little less stable than other types of employment. I’ve never needed my Plan B or C, but they are there, just in case. It helps me sleep at night.
Not China mind you, but my first year in Saudi Arabia was quite a difficult adjustment for me. Though I didn’t bail out, it was nice to have my options already mapped out. It took a little pressure off the situation, allowed me to adapt and adjust – and succeed.
It just makes sense to have a back up plan. That’s all.