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  Govt jobs best bet in 'bad times'

The 775,000 candidates knew only 175 out of every 10,000 would get the chance to work in central government departments but that did not stop them from taking the national civil services exam Sunday.

Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security figures show 21 percent more candidates wrote the exam this year. The candidates, most of them graduating students, are fighting for 13,566 "gold rice bowls", or central government department posts.

A candidate shows her admit card for national civil service exam in Hefei, Anhui province November 30, 2008. About 775,000 people are competing for 13,566 government jobs this years. [Xinhua]

China Disabled Person's Federation jobs have attracted the highest number of candidates for a post: 4,723.

Candidates who pass the exam will be called for interviews and have to take a professional test before March 15, 2009. The successful ones can expect to get an offer before June, the ministry said.

"A civil service job is ideal for me. Although my current job might pay better, I want stability, more leisure time and more personal space. And all those can be got only as a civil servant," said Qian Qi, 22, who now works as an assistant in a foreign-funded company in Jiangsu province.

Yang Shiqiu, vice-minister of human resources and social security, said earlier that more candidates are competing for civil service jobs this year because of growing unemployment and the advantages such posts offer during these difficult times.

Cong Cong, a postgraduate student of Nanjing University, said: "I didn't think of beating so many candidates for a job when I applied for a position offered in the Ministry of Education. But I have to because I've submitted my resume to about 60 firms and got only 10 replies, and no offers."
November and December are the best time for candidates to get a high-end job, and half the students from Cong's department should have got offers by now. But this year, only two or three of them have been able to find a job. "Big or small, the civil services exam gives us hope," she said.

Almost 65 percent of the 5,000 people polled online recently said they would take the exam next year again if they fail this year. The survey also showed almost half of them had already written the exam once before.

"I would definitely try again if I don't get through this time," Qian said. "I'll keep on trying even if the success ratio is 1:100 or 1:1,000." Qian passed the written exam last year but could not get past the first round of interview for a job in the Ministry of Commerce.

Even if candidates fail to clear the national civil services exam, they still have the chance of passing the provincial service tests.

Sun Han, a student of Zhejiang University's law department, said: "I know the chance is slim but I will still try. I have prepared for the test for six months, and in case I fail in the national level test, I still have a chance to take a test in my hometown in Hangzhou in January for a job."

The provincial civil service test is much like the national exam but offers posts in local government departments.

The severe competition this year has made authorities tighten supervision, too. Radio management departments and police have taken steps to prevent candidates from cheating by using mobile phones or radio sets. A person found cheating will be banned from taking exams for five years.

DaCare is the leading bi-lingual executive search firm in China. Ranked top 10 in China by People's Daily.