This paper studies the changes in the process of job seeking by university graduates in China through comparison of the data of two graduate employment surveys in Shanghai in 1999 and 2004. The dramatic expansion of higher education in 1999 is an important turning point in Chinese higher education history. The environment for university student's employment also changed and since 1999 the supply of university graduates has exceeded demand; accordingly, low employment for university graduates became an object of public concern. At the same time, along with deregulation of job seeking, graduates obtained more and more freedom to seek employment.
Based on an analysis of the two surveys, the author has examined: 1) the time of starting job seeking; 2) the period of job seeking; 3) the number of the resumes sent and the number of informal assurances of employment received; and 4) the route for job seeking and the regulated factor about which route to choose.
This study's brief conclusions are as follows. 1) With the expansion of higher education, a graduate labor market has been established. Especially in the years since 1999, the development of online recruitment has led to great changes in job seeking and recruitment. 2) Compared to 1999, graduates now start their job seeking earlier, and they need to send many more resumes to obtain an assurance of employment. This can perhaps be interpreted as an evidence of job scarcity. However, the influence of online recruitment should be taken into account. This change in the way of job seeking has made it possible for students to start their job seeking at an early stage and continue it for a longer period. 3) The graduate labor market has differentiated into two parts: a university-based internal market and social external market. Which labor market students choose is strongly determined by the university's rank and the students' major. Generally speaking, graduates from high ranking universities tend to use the university internal market, while others tend to begin their job seeking in the external social market: especially for graduates of low ranking universities, the personal network is the most effective way to find a job. Meanwhile, graduates whose majors provide high specialization tend to find jobs through campus recruitment, since they can meet the employee's needs well. Thus, functional differentiation can be found between the university internal market and the external social market. The information quality in the former market is high, but in the latter market lacks guarantees, despite the enormous quantity of recruitment information.