@veravdn: "employer applies for the work permit, which I will then take to the consulate to get my visa"
Still not right.
First the employer applies for "work permit notice", which you take to consulate to get a work visa.
The work visa allows you get get in the country, after which your employer will have to separately apply for the final "work permit".
"work permit notice" could be described as a document addressed to consulate, saying this:
"yes, we will give this foreigner legal employment in China, just give her the visa so she can get here".
While the final "work permit" could say:
"you are now employed in company X, ranked as class A/B/C foreigner"
Getting off-topic, but while there let's keep going.
Some cities allow foreigners (who are already legally in country with another type of residence permit), to apply for work visa and work-based residence permit without leaving the country at all.
If I recall correctly, the online electronic system where work permit/notice applications are inputted, contained this option in the menu. But Kunming authorities either didn't know how, or were not allowed, to have us use it.
I was already legally in China on marriage-based RP, but we were going back home for couple of months anyway, so we didn't challenge them for that option and applied for visa while away.