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OCTOBER 23, 2000 VOL. 156 NO. 16

Looking for Work in All the Right Places
Finding jobs online
By ISABELLA NG

ALSO
Generation Yellow: An Internet entrepreneur says the Web is uniting far-flung youth into an innovative community

Grace zhou is surfing hard to find a job. as a business graduate in the southern city of Guangzhou, she could easily land decent employment through a placement center. But she'd rather take the plunge herself, clicking on the logos of the top companies seeking talent in China on the 51job.com website. "Searching for a job on the Internet gives me control over what I want," says the 23-year-old Zhou. "I want to decide my destiny."

Given that an estimated 11.7 million Chinese are out of work, it's no surprise that the hottest topic on the Net—besides that—is jobs. China's two largest employment sites, Zhaopin.com and 51job.com, receive a combined 4 million page views each day from an estimated 1 million unique users. Most of the job seekers (about 70%) are between the ages of 25 and 35.

It's a new gateway to the working world. Internet job hunting gives younger graduates access to opportunities that might otherwise be snapped up by older, more experienced job seekers. Online, tech-sophisticates are able to flood the market with their rEsumEs while demonstrating New Economy skills. Big-name companies like Nokia, Motorola, Microsoft and Fujitsu all advertise on the top job sites, where their flashy logos are far more enticing than the black-and-white classifieds of papers like the Beijing Youth Daily. And the jobs posted online frequently carry higher salaries than those advertised in traditional media: they range from $200 a month for a junior position in a multinational corporation to $2,500 a month for a senior business executive.

About 100 career websites now cater specifically to the mainland. Sites like Zhaopin.com (Help Wanted), launched in 1997, collect information about job vacancies from large Chinese companies who pay for the service. Users can search the site by city, company name and position. On 51job.com (in Mandarin, "51job" sounds something like "I want a job") companies can peruse rEsumEs that have been posted by users. Candidates can also attach diplomas and certificates to their files so companies can instantly verify their qualifications.

Aspirants tend to favor positions in sales, marketing and advertising, while avoiding jobs like engineering that require specialized skills. Most are looking for work in China's metropolises—Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou. But a growing number are focusing on secondary cities like Wuhan, Xian, Chengdu, Dalian and Chongqing, where opportunities abound. As authorities relax the hukou system, under which citizens have been allowed to work only in the city where they have an official permit, young people are beginning to expand their horizons beyond the tight employment markets on the coast. Some, like those who have IT skills, can now even dream of working overseas.

The flood shows no signs of abating. "Since 1997, we have seen a tenfold increase, year after year, in companies using the site," says Necho Wang, media relations manager for Zhaopin.com. Currently nearly 31,000 jobs are posted on Zhaopin.com, while 72,000 are listed on 51job.com. Those numbers won't put China's millions back to work. But for the lucky few, a paycheck may be just a click away.

Write to TIME at mail@web.timeasia.com

tech ALSO IN YOUNG CHINA: TECHNOLOGY
Generation Yellow: An Internet entrepreneur says the Web is uniting far-flung youth into an innovative community

Finding Jobs Online: Looking for work in all the right places

Love Is in the Web: Our reporter logs on to find Mr. Right

Role Models: Kids don't look up only to Bill Gates

Coming Home: Western-educated young scientists are lured back to the motherland


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