Many people in China are trying to get an "iron rice bowl" job, or a position in the civil service. Most are applying because they don't like their current job or have no clear career goals and think a government job will have promotion opportunities.
But it's a good job -- if you can get it.
According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, 1.35 million people have passed the qualification evaluation and 1 million of them are expected to take the exam. But there are only 15,000 positions available from more than 130 central government departments and subordinate agencies this year.
One job vacancy at the European Office of the International Department of the Ministry of Science and Technology attracted 4,080 applicants. Perhaps that position involves travel to Europe? Louis Vuitton bags, anyone?
However, jobs at railway public security and weather departments were less attractive -- 30 job vacancies were still open by the deadline last Saturday. Perhaps the weather job is too stressful with the government demanding the weather be good on specific days...
So it depends what kind of job you're looking for.
At the same time though, some candidates are just trying their luck and not bothering to cram for the exam.
One 26-year-old woman from Jiangsu Province is taking the exam for the fifth time, but doesn't want to prepare for it. "The odds of passing the test are higher than the lottery," she said. "But I would like to take a chance anyway. Maybe I can win it with my relaxed and positive mind," she said, adding that several of her friends had passed without studying.
Nevertheless, there are those who quickly discover that a government job may not be all it's cracked up to be.
A woman named Nikki Feng said she was not given the free apartment promised with the job and she had to compromise her health when her bosses insisted that she accompany them to meetings that involved heavy drinking.
Perhaps only alcoholics need apply for that job...