BEIJING, June 25 (Xinhua) -- Having sent out more than 110 job applications but getting no more than 10 interviews, chemistry graduate Yi Feng gave up on the idea of landing a decent job. He had traveled around a number of major Chinese cities trying his luck for four months.
Yi, who graduates from Jiangxi Normal University in east China's Jiangxi Province this month, decided to join the army to avoid what seems to be the country's most toughest job market in a decade. He will wait for more opportunities to become available in two or three years time.
The 22-year-old said serving in the army is very appealing, adding he will get a fair allowance and enjoy favorable policies when pursuing a graduate degree or a post in the civil service later on.
"Joining the army is not a bad option for me. It has relieved my stress to find a job and will probably make me more competitive," he said.
Although the job market in China is still much better than many other parts of the world, it is a tough market for graduates. Many job seekers have decided to shy away from the rat race and try other options.
A record-high 6.99 million Chinese students are leaving universities in 2013, a 2.8 percent increase year on year, to hunt for jobs at a time when employers are cutting down on recruitment, according to government figures.
The number of jobs for new hires this year has dropped about 15 percent year on year amid slowing economic growth in China, according to a Ministry of Education survey carried out among nearly 500 firms in February.
"The shrinking job market is the result of the sluggish world economy and tempered domestic growth," said Yang Lin, director of the career guidance center of Beijing Technology and Business University.
New posts in many large state-owned enterprises have declined dramatically this year after economic reform or restructuring was performed in order to achieve efficiency, Yang added.
Out of 178,000 college graduates in Shanghai, 44.5 percent had signed up for employment as of May 10, while the figure for Beijing was only 33.6 percent at the beginning of May, according to government figures.
The grave employment situation has concerned China's leadership. Chinese President Xi Jinping talked with college graduate representatives during his visit to a vocational training center in Tianjin in May, urging efforts to help graduates find employment.
China's central government outlined measures to help college graduates in their job search, including the implementation of existing policies favorable to graduates' employment, providing training subsidies, petty loans and tax breaks for self-employment.
Despite of the great pressure in the job market, many small- and medium-sized businesses are facing difficulties in finding employees due to a preference to seek work in the civil service, public institutions or state-run companies among young job seekers.
"We're keen to hire college students with an education background in marketing, advertising or human resources, but it's really difficult to attract them," said Wang Zhong, manager of a small private company based in eastern China's Shandong Province.
"It's my first choice to seek employment in a large state-owned enterprise or foreign company, because they usually have a better promotion system and motivation mechanism," said college graduate Gao Xinwei, adding it might be better to work at small firms after gaining enough experience at larger companies.
It is common for many young graduates to want to get their dream job straight away, but career planning is a long-term process and needs constant adjustment and improvement, said Yang Lin, adding that young people should not shy away from working at grassroots level.
"College students should have appropriate self-examination and be ambitious as well as down-to-earth in their job search," said Zhang Libin, with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.