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Last year's job market tough nut to crack
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-04 08:41

Secretaries topped the charts for the most hotly contested job, while landscape engineers had the easiest time of it finding their career goals, a 2004 Chinese job market survey says.

With an average 237 applicants bidding for a single post, secretaries have surpassed accountants and sales managers as the most competitive vocation during the past year, according to a survey of the leading recruitment website www.zhaopin.com based on its yearly statistics.

The competition was so fierce that more and more employers expected secretaries to assume greater responsibilities and discretion in office management rather than simply preparing meeting papers, the survey indicated.

Students apply for jobs at a job fair in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, displaying 8,000 vacancies from companies across the country, November 14, 2004. [newsphoto]

It turns out almost all employers advertising at www.zhaopin.com required secretary candidates to have some journalism, economics or finance credentials, in addition to a good command of English.

Landscape engineers were much luckier, thanks to the booming real estate industry that yielded abundant opportunities for the relatively scarce profession. One landscaping job offered saw just 36 applicants in 2004, the least competitive of all the professional jobs surveyed by the recruitment website.

Generally speaking, the 2004 job market remained tense with demand and supply growing at the same time.

For example, the number of ads seeking electronic and mechanical engineers via www.zhaopin.com reached 111,780 in 2004, up 57 per cent year-on-year. But each applicant still had to compete with 70 or so peers given the huge number of job-seekers. The case was similar with other main job-producing industries, such as the computer sector and telecommunications.

The intensive competition has made employees more cautious about changing jobs. Only 10 per cent of the respondents to an online questionnaire by www.zhaopin.com said they would opt for a new boss in 2005, compared with 16 per cent to the same question a year ago.

The proportion of those who desire higher salaries in the same position has risen from 9 per cent a year ago to 15 per cent at present, a sign that more people are forgoing random job changes in favour of solid development at their current work.

Nevertheless, the website survey shows that senior professionals still had a clear upper hand in the fierce competition despite the cloudy employment climate.

For example, ordinary graduates in accounting or finance now have a difficult time since the industry saw an average 189 applicants vying for a single post in 2004. But those high-calibre financial professionals with an international perspective are the real cream of the market. Some 62 foreign banks had opened 204 offices in the country by the end of October, and more cities in the country's west and northeast will open RMB businesses to foreign banks as scheduled in China's World Trade Organization accession protocol. There will be many alluring job opportunities for senior financial professionals as that trend continues.

The survey also discovered that higher education credentials can be helpful when it comes to job-seeking. Statistics from the Ministry of Personnel indicate that in the third quarter of 2004, the number of jobs for college graduates and postgraduates increased by 3.9 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively, whereas that for people with lower than junior college credentials declined 5.1 per cent.

About 2.8 million students graduated from college in 2004 nationwide.

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