FEATURE: China’s job-hopping generation

BEIJING (China Daily/ANN) -Young Chinese born after 1990 grew up in an era of relative affluence, and change employers frequently for individual goals.

Job-hopping is now a buzzword for young Chinese-those in their 20s, in particular, change jobs more frequently than previous generations.

More than 60 per cent of the post-1990 generation stayed in their first job for less than a year after graduating from university, and, among them, 38 per cent changed jobs in less than six months, according to a news report by the China Youth Daily in late 2017.

Wang Yin, a 25-year-old Shaanxi native, describes herself as typical of the post-1990 generation-full of ideas, unsettled, with the urge to learn more.

Within a year, she had changed jobs three times.

She left her hometown in Xi’an, the capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi province, and sought job opportunities in Beijing last March.

With a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Leicester and a master’s degree in international management from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom, finding a job was not a difficult matter for Wang.

She first worked in a commercial real estate consulting company.

Five months later, she quit because she felt unsatisfied with her duties, which were mainly preparing PowerPoint presentations and planning events, which she says were “a bunch of boring trifles”.

Her daily work was not relevant to her educational background, and did not help her accumulate any field expertise, she says.

“I started as a fresh hand who knew nothing about commercial real estate. After a few months, I was still ignorant and inexperienced.

“Trading my time for 7,000 yuan ($1,100) a month was not a deal I wanted.”

She kept her frequent job-hopping from her parents, who she thought would be worried about her unstable employment situation.

“I make my own decisions, and I will pay the price personally, no matter what,” she says.

Foreseeable career growth

With the rapid economic development of the country, the job market has witnessed great changes over the years.

Among the post-1990 generation, the average time an employee holds a job is 18.5 months, according to a survey by 199IT.com, an internet statistics organiser.

Among the post-1980 generation, the number is 26.5 months.

Though many assume a higher salary is usually the main motivation for a job change, this is only partly true.

Xu Jia’nan, a 25-year-old internet product manager from Hefei, East China’s Anhui province, has changed jobs three times in a year, after he moved to Hangzhou for work.

His job is to design the interface, functionality and logic of apps, after analysing user feedback and assessing their needs to continually improve the apps.

He has been working for small companies, which he left as soon as the product he developed matures.

Xu finds updating an app is not as exciting as developing one.

He attaches more importance to the work experience he acquires from different projects, which requires job-hopping, until he starts his own firm.

Xia Zeyu, a 26-year-old who works in finance, sees changing jobs as a way to broaden his horizons.

“Jobs let you learn more about a certain field. And, maybe during the process, you will access something more attractive, say, for example, a job related to this one. And, this new thing may ignite your new passion,” says Xia.

“Job-hopping, as a result, is like ticking off destinations on a map-the further you go, the more you experience and understand.”

On the other hand, the generations born before 1990 are more likely to be satisfied working for the same company.

Yang Xiaonan, who was born in 1987, has been working in the same hotel for more than five years. He started working on reception, helping guests with reservations and check-ins for two years, and was later promoted to manager before being made the director of operations.

“I find my post-1990 generation colleagues move to quit when they cannot see a tangible future in their current job, while I waited for my chance to come. I see working at a lower level as a stepping stone to achieving something bigger in the future.”

“I’ve been doing repetitive work, but aren’t all jobs like that?”

In March 2016, Zhaopin, a Chinese recruitment website, looked at 15,786 questionnaires answered nationwide by people of the post-1990 generation about their attitudes toward careers and occupation planning.

It was found that 76 per cent of the people polled showed they were eager to pursue their occupations, 62 per cent looked to the potential development of their careers, and 81 per cent would rather work hard and get promoted than live an easy life.

Li Xia, a senior researcher on markets and media at Peking University who has studied post-1990 generation graduates, says that it is a good thing that the younger generation is looking for better prospects through changing jobs. But, she says, frequent job-hopping by the post-1990 generation also shows a lack of corporate loyalty.

She also says that young people will find it hard to understand a job or a company’s culture in two to three years, let alone in a shorter period.

Work-life balance

The report from Zhaopin also says that 73 per cent of the post-1990 generation want a better work-life balance.

Wang’s second job was as a business analyst at an internet company where she was assigned to study the work plan of every department and summarize the information into a 10-page PowerPoint presentation for the company’s vice-president.

Wang had to work on weekends to get the report ready.

She was so exhausted with the schedule that she quit the job two months later.

Speaking about why she resigned, she says: “I value free time-to get some rest and recharge myself.”

Zheng Zilu, 24, from East China’s Zhejiang province, also quit her job as a business developer at an internet company after just three months.

She described her work schedule as “996”-get to work at 9 am, leave the office at 9 pm, six days a week including Saturdays.

The post-1990 generation is a different breed, and describing them, Career Frog, a platform that helps place people with jobs or internships globally, says this group has grown up in a relatively wealthy age with the influence of individualism from the West and the generation were raised under China’s one-child policy.

Unlike previous generations, they don’t believe in such virtues as dedication or sacrificing themselves for the greater good. On the contrary, they focus more on satisfying their own needs. They give priority to personal development, and put the interests of the employer in second place.

Also, it is hard to convince them to give up personal interests or individual preferences, such as leisure, to pursue a career.


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