The Job Hunt in China | 在中国寻找工作
When I graduate with a Master’s Degree from Tsinghua University in four months, I will enter perhaps the world’s toughest job market – China. While the official government unemployment rate has hovered around 4 percent since before the Olympic Flame was extinguished at the Bird’s Nest Stadium, recent college grads (my Chinese friends among them) tell a completely different story. Unless you have remarkable skills in a red-hot area like computer programming, it’s nearly impossible to snag a promising job that you’re interested in, and can pay the bills, fresh out of college.
As far as I can tell, the reason rests in simple statistics.
In 2012, China pumped out nearly seven million college grads, according to its ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. That’s seven million educated grads with sky-high expectations entering a job market that is still heavily tilted towards low-paying manufacturing jobs. And those jobs are, indeed, there for the taking.
A serious shortage of willing labor has caused many factories in southern China’s industrial belt to engage in all-out recruiting campaigns, sometimes, my friends say, even, venturing into China’s most prestigious universities like Tsinghua and Peking University to fling out job offers.
More often than not, these recruiters are scoffed at. Factory work is looked down upon, considered far below the abilities of well-read, worldly college grads. Perhaps they shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the idea, though. Reports came out last year that detailed how these factory jobs paid more, on average, than the starting salary of a college grad in China.
The problem is that so many in China, like the U.S., hold themselves out for the perfect job – one that pays well, challenges them, and fits their area of expertise - when the jobs available don’t at all fit this criteria. That leaves Chinese college grads, just like their American counterparts, settling, in desperation, for low-paying service jobs, working in fields that have nothing to do with the fields they studied.
My Chinese friends at Tsinghua who will soon graduate are, like me, scrambling to send out resumes, network with potential employers, and score reference letters from their professors and internship coordinators. I can’t help but feel, though, that I, as a foreigner and native-English speaker, have a leg up in the rat race.
All seven million Chinese are competing against each other for that perfect job. Most drag through the official hiring process at big multinationals and huge Chinese firms – applying online, taking tests, going through group interviews….Outshining their fellow applicants is near-impossible when some positions attract thousands of very bright, ambitious go-getters with internships under the wings and connections to pull on.
I, on the other hand, can often just email a company executive to inquire about an opening. Being a foreigner is sometimes that much of a novelty.
Whatever the case, I wish my friends, both foreign, and Chinese, the best of luck while job hunting before this graduation season, and I urge them all to look beyond their ideal jobs and settle for something a little more feasible.
I have always thought before I graduated that working in the United States would be difficult. This idea was largely affected by articles and other media pieces either about either illegal immigration or barriers for foreign national individuals to find job in the United States. Many of my friends and I heard a lot of stories about the hardship people went through when they were looking for a job. All these added up and made me believe firmly that it would not be a fun experience to look for a job here. I learned later that finding a job here is not difficult as long as you know how to look for one. In my opinion, the barrier is usually there to prevent foreign nationals from taking jobs with lower pay or unfair advantage over United States citizens. As long as you can prove your value in the work you have done or demonstrate the importance of your work, there should be no problem for you to be able to work in the United States.
Luckily for me, I managed to get hired as a full time staff member to work on the Blue Zones Project for Cedar Falls. This is a community wellbeing improvement initiative. I grew more and more passionate about my job everyday because I realized that this is such a great opportunity for me to experience working and learn more about engaging different people. However, I couldn't help but to compare the working environment and employees' attitude towards working here with Chinese culture.
It seems that Americans are more likely to quit a job without knowing what their next step would be. Most Chinese workers would not leave their current job until they know they have another job waiting for them. Americans seem to care more about finding passion in the job and will not continue once they do not feel good about what they are doing.
Some may say this kind of action is reckless and irresponsible, but I think it is really important to be doing whatever you feel is right for you. I believe firmly that doing something with passion will make you one of the top employees in the industry. It would motivate you to keep on learning and improving. However, I also think that before leaving a job a person should at least have a general idea of what should come next instead of just leave and start searching later.
All in all, I have had an awesome working experience here in the States and this definitely would help me in my future career development.