Young Chinese Desperate to Be Civil Servants

A desperate civil service applicant in Nanjing, Mr. Wang, forged many CVs to make his own application stand out, stirring up yet another round of retrospection over China’s coveted civil service recruitment. From Chengcheng Jiang at Time Magazine:

When officials in the city of Nanjing invited applications for a clerking post in the municipal government’s court system last month, they expected plenty of interest in the much coveted civil-service positions. But even they were suspicious when their in-boxes filled up with applications from Hollywood starlet Zhang Ziyi, pinup Fan Bingbing and table-tennis champion Liu Guoliang. An internal investigation quickly revealed that one enterprising young candidate for the position, a Mr. Wang, was so desperate to get the job that he had filed more than 100 fake applications — 50% of the total number received. Wang apparently believed that his real application would stand out all the more amid a sea of phonies and that rivals would be scared off by the number of applicants ahead of them in the queue. His cunning plan almost worked — he got noticed — but once authorities discovered what he’d been up to, they banned him from applying to the civil service for the next five years.

[...O]ver the past few years, applications to the civil service have begun to surge: 1.5 million people registered to take the 2013 entrance exams, an increase of nearly 15% year-on-year. And competition for the most-coveted government positions is intensifying. In one much discussed example in October, more than 9,000 (apparently real) people applied for a single job in the municipal Statistics Bureau in the megacity of Chongqing.

As the applications increase, the caliber of applicants is also increasing dramatically, according to Liu Xin, a professor at the Institute of Organization and Human Resources at Renmin University. “In other countries like the U.S., talented people would never choose to work in the civil service — the private sector is always their first choice,” he says. “But in China, it’s the exact opposite.” More and more talented young people are signing up for government jobs, he says.

[...] According to Renmin University’s Liu, that guarantee of job security is one of the key factors driving the renewed interest in the public sector. That guarantee has become increasingly important as the global financial crisis bites harder in China. “As a civil servant in China, unless you quit or make a big mistake, you have a job for life,” he says. “It’s the iron rice bowl. That’s especially important during an economic downturn.” Another plus is that state-sector workers routinely receive free food, free local transport and special access to cheap housing, paid holidays and other perks.

See also Chinese College Graduates Play It Safe and Lose Out, via CDT.