Trends and Buzz

Don't take a plane to your job interview, and other employment lessons

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Graduating college students attending a job fair in Dongguan earlier this month came from as far away as Heilongjiang Province. Most of them stayed with friend, relatives, or distant contacts, but a small number stayed in four-star hotels. Guangzhou Daily reports that the local public opinion was divided; some people thought that staying in a 380-yuan room the night before a job interview was a waste of money and displayed a basic inability to face hardship. Others were more or less unconcerned - if students have the money, why not spend it?

The reaction, and the subsequent report in the media, is not really all that surprising. Reports of college students' outrageous spending habits - accessorized mobile phones, job interview makeovers, cars - make the rounds every so often, with quotes from the "what's wrong with today's youth" people as well as those that say "let them live their lives however they want."

There's a bit of a warning in this one, though:

A Wen, currently working as an administrative assistant, said that she caused herself problems through her initial confusion. Her travel and living arrangements gave a negative impression to the company to which she was applying.

"I said to him, I flew here by myself, and I didn't know anyone here. The first night I stayed at a hotel, but the second day I found a room to rent." But at the time, she thought the recruiter looked at her strangely.

Later on, the company said in an email that she was too delicate and couldn't deal with hard times because she had flown there on a plane. And she was too impulsive, since she came from Chengdu to Guangzhou without knowing a single person.

A Wen said, "From then on I lied. I didn't dare tell the truth."

College grads could always take jobs as migrant workers. China Youth Daily ran an article this week with the provocative title "What does 'the value of college students is the same as migrant workers' tell us?"

The article tells of the results of a national survey which found that migrant workers expected to make an average of 1100 yuan a month, slightly up from previous expectations, while graduating college students expected an average of 1000 yuan, continuing a slide of several years.

Considering the additional elements of job security, benefits, and growth potential, the comparison doesn't really tell us anything except that the laborers are overly optimistic - average wage in 2004 was 539 yuan a month - and college students are freaked out over competing with millions of other job seekers. Should they find a job, 58% of college grads see their salary doubling in three years.

The report recommends education as a tool to raise workers' incomes - recent government statistics for urban salaries put annual income at 8744 yuan for primary-educated workers, 10,269 for junior-high, 12,204 for senior-high, 17,290 for technical school, 22,995 for undergrad, and 37,880 for grad school graduates. On the other hand, the type of skilled labor jobs that bring in 10,000 or more per year - for which there is a shortage of qualified workers these days - require an investment of 8000 yuan or more and take 3-5 years.

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