For someone from a culture that values equality and individuality, working in Taiwan will be quite an experience: it might be eye-opening, shocking, or even traumatizing.
Companies will exploit loopholes and break laws to save money, often at the expense of employees. Employees usually work overtime without being paid, but that’s the least to worry about. Any employee in Taiwan should be familiar with Taiwan’s health insurance laws, laborer’s insurance laws, and tax laws. (Common tricks of unethical employers: underinsuring or not insuring at all, misreporting employees’ incomes, and stealing tax deductible allowances from employees.)
Foreign employees should also study visa laws and immigration laws to know their rights, and should be mindful to make sure that employers do everything legally. A foreign employee suffers immediate legal consequences when an employer breaks laws.
Managers have little, if any, practical knowledge about how things should be done. They issue orders to anyone they outrank. Accepting unsolicited advice from underlings is a taboo. Office pecking order exists and is enforced to the fullest. It’s more important to be liked by managers than to be a team player who actually pulls his/her own weight. Heck, it’s more important to be liked by other teammates than to pull any weight at all.
Sexual discrimination and sexual harassment do occur, but a victim would find very little sympathy from coworkers. Such things are not openly discussed, and blame is often placed on the victim. The sad truth is that most people don’t care. Coworkers can be very hostile to a newcomer who is pregnant. They assume that she is a leech who would just quit after her paid maternity leave. It is not unheard of that an employer fires a pregnant employee under some trivial pretext.
If one is ready to put up with nonsense and look the other way when something goes wrong, the Taiwanese work environment is not all that bad.
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Pure technical writing jobs are rare in Taiwan. Few companies realize they need a full-time tech writer. Even fewer companies consider tech writing a professional skill. The common misconception is that anyone with an English degree is good enough for tech writing. The ignorant misconception is that any native English speaker is more than qualified. The snooty misconception is that any English speaking engineer can do it on the side.
The defining qualities of a competent tech writer go far beyond having technical knowledge and writing well. A tech writer writes and tests product instructions, as well as present them in a way that’s practical and understandable to end-users; obtains product specific information from engineers by asking relevant questions and spotting inconsistencies; and
wrestles works with marketing managers to ensure truth in advertising.
Rapport with coworkers is important though most of them don’t speak English.
Editing coworkers’ incomprehensible/broken English is inevitable. It is reasonable to imagine that the amount of Chinglish editing involved would be inversely proportional to the writer’s ability to communicate in Mandarin, but reality disagrees.
My favorite tech guru at a previous job kept handing me Chinglish documents to edit. Although we were always able to resolve any ambiguities by communicating in Mandarin, I would’ve been happier to write from scratch or to translate from Chinese, instead of editing broken English. In retrospect, I understand that he was only doing his job. Improving one’s English was the unofficial corporate slogan.
Additional duties and roles of a tech writer are endless: English teacher, translator (coworkers like favors), interpreter (introverted? oh dear!), English speech writer, English customer support, English salesperson, and English cat sitter.
Graphic design and document layout may or may not be part of the package.