The civil service is again among the top of Chinese college grads' list of ideal jobs, almost as hot as multinational companies.
With just one in 60 applicants getting a job, many graduates throng to the civil service exam, a must path to employment. A recent China Youth Daily survey on website portal Netease.com shows around 86 percent of the 2,440 participants polled considered taking the exam.
When asked why, a man surnamed Liu, a law major in Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in the central Hubei Province, said "becoming a civil servant means a lifetime of insurance, stability and being relatively well-paid."
Zhou Yuping, a local customs civil servant, said "I believe I can do something for the public by being a civil servant."
Many others, however, admit they only take the exam as another shot to finding a satisfactory job.
Chen Junrong, a fresh graduate from the central Hunan Province, said "This is a pretty good chance for job hunters in spite of the low success rate. We just take every chance we can get."
In a socialist system such as China, civil service positions used to be described along with words such as "decent," "stable" and "guaranteed." Though the average monthly salary is only about 3,000 yuan (about 438 U.S. dollars), employees are well taken care of, receiving much cheaper housing, work meals and better insurance and pension coverage.
In the past decade or so, college grads, however, have increasingly eyed multinationals, attracted to the higher pay as well as a new lifestyle and work environment.
Even so, working for the civil service has increasingly come back into fashion. But why?
"Being in a foreign company you are faced with the high risk of getting fired. Domestic enterprises, on the other hand, don't pay well," said Liu, adding that setting up one's own business mostly led new grads to failure.
Xie Yu, a female English major in the prestigious Nanjing University in the eastern Jiangsu Province, said "The work load in foreign enterprises is too heavy. Though the payment is high, we don't get well-covered on other issues like housing and medicare."
About 68.3 percent of those surveyed believe most civil servants get their jobs through personal relations rather than by qualifications. "Many real elites are swept out by those with (such) backgrounds," a netizen in the southwestern Sichuan Province wrote.
Those who have taken the exam and found employment, however, tell a different story.
"I did really well in the exam and interview, so here I am," said Li Juan, now a Ministry of Health employee. "I don't have any relations (in the civil service)."