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  • Writer's pictureSean Wilson

What I Learned as an Employee in the Taiwan Tech Startup World

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

When I came to this beautiful island five years ago and began looking for a tech job, it felt like a different world than today’s Taiwan. I had to learn a lot of lessons about job hunting, the work experience, and the culture all on my own, and I learned some of those lessons very painfully. While every foreigner’s work experience in Taiwan is different, here are some of the things that I’ve picked up along the way that I think might help you, too.

Increase your chances of landing a great job

When I first arrived, I already had more than six years of experience as a software developer, but as a foreign software professional in Taiwan, I still couldn’t find a suitable job on 104 or other job sites.

So I spent a year taking Chinese classes in the mornings and in the evenings I would attend as many programming meetups as I could find on Facebook or I was almost always the only foreigner there. Sometimes there would be another bespectacled blondish white guy, and it was interesting to watch people try to remember who was whom.

My job search luck broke at one of the monthly programming meetups I regularly attended. After a few months of regular attendance, one of the organizers announced that he was starting his own company, knew my resume and trusted me, and decided to hire me to lead his software team.

That was five years ago. These days, there are so many different networking events every week in Taipei, I often get to choose between 2 or 3 a week to attend. I love going to these types of events to meet new people and learn more about companies. If you’re looking for a job in Taiwan, it is invaluable to attend networking events to learn about the different companies and their cultures here. I recommend focusing on small companies and startups; their culture is often more flexible and more English-language friendly than big companies. One word of advice regarding networking is to be patient. Not every event will yield great connections for you, but if you do enough of it, sooner or later you’ll run into people who can connect to you to interesting career opportunities.

Attending a few networking events a month can be key to getting a job you love.

For bonus points when looking for a job, see if you qualify for the Taiwan Gold Card under the Ministry of Economics requirement. Check approval method #1: If you made a salary of more than 160K NTD / month in the last three years, you are eligible for the gold card. If you’ve just arrived from the tech world in North America, it could be an easy get. Having the open work permit and three year resident visa provided by the Gold Card helps prevent you from having to make visa runs, and also makes you more eligible to be hired – companies don’t have to pay your visa and permit fees, so you’ll be a higher priority pick.

Keep yourself in good shape

When I started my new job, I threw myself into the work. However, after a few years of working long hours, the wear and tear on my body began to show. If you are a startup employee, you need to think of yourself like an endurance athlete. This means getting regular exercise and staying hydrated, but it also means staying physically comfortable at work, which will prevent carpal tunnel, bad neck/back posture, eye strain, and other issues.