Nicole is struggling to find a job, although she is a returnee from the overseas study with distinct performance. “I’ve finished my MA degree abroad, and I am still a novice in job-hunting. More and more Chinese students would like to go back home after finishing their education overseas. The competition is more severe, and I’m very unconfident.” Said her.
In China, the whole society generally reckons that students who hold a bachelor's degree or above awarded by international colleges may be more competitive in job hunting. The information "oversea study experience is preferred" frequently appears in many companies' recruitment requirements. The labels of "study abroad", "prestigious school", and "elite" have become conventions for the returnee job seekers to find a decent job with high salaries in China quickly.
However, instead of what as people normally imagined, Nicole's confusion surprised the public and resonated with students who have the same experience. At this graduation season, the Chinese government has launched packages of policies to help graduates get rid of the dilemma caused by COVID-19, but returnees from the overseas study are facing worse situations on job-hunting.
Why are returnees from overseas study having difficulties of job-hunting in China?
According to the 2019 Report on Employment and Entrepreneurship of Chinese Returnees, the number of oversea students reached 890,000 last year, which set a new record. Meanwhile, the report also pointed out that China was attracting more returnees for work and entrepreneurship. Among them, the majority are young adults aged from 20 to 29-year-old with similar educational backgrounds. As studying abroad is becoming normalized and low-aged, the advantages of students with international education experience in job hunting are fading.
After interviewing some returnees, JMDedu noticed that there is a gap in information among the job-hunting market, some of the graduates even experienced the “discrimination” during the job interview.
Kelly, a Chinese student pursuing an MA degree in the UK, said: “Most companies in China require their new employees to submit the degree certificate by September, but you know we usually get our certificate in November or December at the earliest. This sort of requirement curtails many chances for me to find a job this year successfully."
Sherry, who has similar experiences with Kelly, further explained that she chose to pursue her master's degree in the UK was for its one-year-schooling system, which could save her time to engage in work earlier. However, she felt frustrated and helpless when her plan was terminated due to the “time difference”.
Apart from the unmatched graduation time, many returnees were misunderstood by employers, and John is one of them who share his unhappy experience with JMDedu. “I’ve studied my bachelor’s and master’s degree in America. When they view my resume, I’m usually doubted whether traveling or hanging out with my Chinese friends instead of studying hard, and I feel that I was offended.” Said John. Due to some negative and controversial examples, there are indeed some misunderstandings among the public.
COVID-19 has compounded the job-hunting situation for returnees from overseas study
Obstacles caused by social factors could be overcome in some aspects, but how about natural disasters? As the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of slowing and graduation season in China settles in, students find it hard to find jobs because many companies are forced to reduce headcount and even cancel the recruitment amid the economic downturn.
“The epidemic makes everything unpredictable,” said Helen studied at Sydney University. Many colleges started online learning amid the crisis, but it might not be for everyone. “I prefer offline learning, so I decided to defer my study to the next year. And I’m gonna look for a job and accumulate some work experiences during this period”. After returning to China this March, Helen has sent her resumes to seven companies as of now but got no response.
There are not a few students like Helen, who are trying to change their career plans. According to the statistic from Southern Metropolis Daily, 43.52% of respondents studying abroad have converted their original plans and determine to find a job in China. And nearly 60% of the respondents had negative emotions due to the epidemic.
“Actually I am always planning to work here after finishing my education.” As a Chinese student studied law in the UK, Jane has started to prepare for her target since last September and received an interview offer this March. “But the interview was unfortunately delayed due to the severe outbreak. There is no further information yet.” As her visa is going to be expired, she has to change her plan. But such a dilemma may be eliminated sooner as many countries have launched new policies in terms of the visa.
Considering the situation, China's Minister of Education (MOE) has recently indicated that the impact of the epidemic on students studying abroad is temporary, with some official suggestions for returnees' job-hunting. Besides some specially held recruiting activities for returnees, more educational programs will also open to them.
More opportunities lie in the career planning institutions, both domestic and overseas
As the number of Chinese returnees from overseas study looking for jobs increases year by year, the conflict in this aspect has aroused much attention from both the society and the authority. Although the epidemic magnified the contradiction between Chinese employers and returnees, it also brings the pivot for fixing the long-existing problems.
From the perspective of enterprises, few of them have comprehensive understandings of overseas universities, thereby causing a widening gap of information between industry and education. As a result, employers cannot well grasp the advantages of applicants with different international learning experiences.
And for students holding degrees certificates awarded by global universities, lacking job-hunting guidance and information-obtaining channels block their way of finding an ideal job after graduation.
Amid such a situation, educational institutions aimed at career planning have ushered in a burgeoning age, and many of them have already carried out various tutoring programs for students studying abroad. However, as most returnees who have paid for such programs express, “this kind of service is more like a fraud”.
As JMDedu investigated, the tutoring fee is almost ranging from 30,000 to 60,000 yuan, which is still a significant amount for most families. “But the high prices do not match the services that the institutions provide,” Said a student. “Some materials they provided are open resources. I can easily get them online. And the mentors are not qualified enough to give me useful suggestions.”
When the demand increases amid the COVID-19 epidemic, professional institutions will undoubtedly stand out at this stage. And because many countries like the UK and Australia have eased virus visa hardship for foreign students, and the UK even promises post-study work visa for foreign students forced to start university course online, Chinese students would show more willingness to work overseas. Although it is hard to predict the prospect, overseas companies may see potential opportunities for job-hunting tutoring aimed at Chinese students.