Beijing drifters' job-hunting stories



· 2018.07.22

TMTpost Image interviewed three young people and took the following photos. You may see yourself in their stories.

It is job-hunting season again.

Maybe you are refreshing your resume in a small, humble city dwelling far away from your hometown;

Maybe you are going for an interview in a favored company, hoping to have excellent performance at the crucial moment that may change your life;

Perhaps you are suffering from repeated failures and feeling pessimistic; or maybe you are still at work but you are not sure if you should give it up or go on……

TMTpost Image interviewed three young people and took the following photos. They all come from small towns. They are busy looking for a job in the big city. They have been declined, and spent their anxious days in co-rent apartments. They have aspired, they were hopeless, but finally they made their choices.

You may see yourself in their stories.

He became a Beijing drifter at the age of 24, ready for a "long journey"

On March 2, 2018, 24-year-old Lin got on a train from Baihe, Jinlin Province, and arrived in Beijing after a 24-hour hard seat ride on two trains for 24 hours. After graduated with a bachelor degree in 2017, Lin spent more than half a year to prepare for the national post-graduate entrance examination. Failing the exam, he decided to leave home and look for a job in Beijing.

With the help of his university roommate, Lin stayed in an apartment in Xibeiwang after he arrived in Beijing. He can stay here free of charge for one month. From 7am to 10pm, Lin keeps refreshing his resume online. He wants to find an operation related job, which he's most interested in.

In order to save money, Lin eats egg noodles for every meal. "I feel like I'm going to puke," he says. Lin prepared to live in a basement before he came to Beijing. "This place has a kitchen and bathroom, it's much better than I expected. One of my schoolmates, also a Beijing drifter, used to live in a basement. He had to share the bathroom and kitchen with others. The basement once was almost flooded." Lin comes from a forest region. His parents encourage him to make a living in Beijing but still worry about him. They call him everyday to check what's going on, Lin always comforts them and tells them don't worry.

March 26, Lin went to a job interview. He already has had three interviews in the past few weeks since he came to Beijing. He declined two companies' offers because the jobs are not the operation positions he wants. Lin takes his first job seriously, "I just don't want to be too hasty in the first place and then begin job-hopping," he says. Xiao Lin wants a job he enjoys in a long term, with the salary being enough for his basic needs in the city. However, Lin has received no response for most of the time.

Lin says he plans to do a two-month "job-hunting journey." He's confident in his ability, and he just needs a platform to show it. Limited by economic conditions, Lin missed out key middle schools and key universities, leaving some regrets in his life. "I must find a good platform to do something I enjoy. I want to follow my heart, no matter how hard it would be." This is why Lin decided to come to Beijing. He believes there are greater opportunities out there to change his life.

After the interview, Lin left the company's office building with confidence. Two days later, he received an offer from the well-known Internet company and became an operation auditor.

12:30am, June 8. Lin rides a bicycle home after night shift work. He has moved out of his first place in Xibeiwang. His new dwelling is less than 3 kilometers away from work. The company offers a certain sum of housing subsidies.

Lin visited his family with gifts during the Dragon Boat Festival. He borrowed thousands of RMB from his friend to rent the new place because he's reluctant to bother his parents. He will pay the money back by several months. Sometimes Lin is lost when doing his repetitive and mechanical work. The first job has become another "long journey" of Xiao Lin, "hopefully I can learn more at work," he says.

Female postgraduate succeeds after repeated failures

March 7, Sihui subway station, Beijing. Lu Yao, a postgraduate from Communication University of China carrying a suitcase transfers subway lines. She has just returned to Beijing from her hometown in Shandong Province. Getting a job is the most important thing for her in the coming three months. Some 8 million university students will graduate in China this year, and they all need a job.

Since the second half of 2017, Lu has begun to look for a job, mainly at campus recruitments and companies' briefing sessions aiming at graduates. Lu has sent her resume to at least 50 companies, and has failed more than ten interviews and exams including a civil service test. Intense competition and continuous failures has put unprecedented pressure on her.

To prepare for the upcoming retest of a civil service position at a central ministry or commission, Lu goes to her teacher to get the school stamp on a document. She focuses on the positions of SOEs and central media that can offer registered permanent residence in Beijing. "It has to be either a stable or a highly paid job," Lu held on to this kind of thinking at the beginning.

In the morning of the retest, Lu leaves her dorm and runs to the subway station. She bought a formal wear with RMB 100 online. Color of the clothes' collar and cuff has faded after being washed the night before. Worrying about the interviewer would notice it, she keeps cleaning the stain with napkin.

Six hours later, Lu has finished the retest. On her way school, she received a phone call from her mother. Her family wants her to be a civil servant, which is relatively stable. The retest took only 20 mins but Lu waited for five hours outside because she was the last one by drawing lots.

Graduates and postgraduates wait in line to present their resumes at a campus recruitment site of a famous Internet company. After many interviews, Lu seems to have received a message from the society: postgraduates think highly of themselves; they are not as motivated as graduates in early 20s, and not as experienced as those older job applicants. Therefore, postgraduates are not the first choice of employers.

A resume is found in trashcan. Its owner is from another university, the 109th interviewee in sequence. Lu fails another interview at the campus recruitment, which makes her believe the status of a female postgraduate is somewhat embarrassing. An interviewer told her they prefer male applicants, because females around 30 years old are facing the reality of getting married and having children.

While looking for jobs, Lu takes time to do graduation design work. From time to time, she learns her classmates have got jobs. She believes that with her professional level and internship, there should be no problem to find a job in Beijing, but it's uncertain whether the job will be suitable for her or not. "I don't have to stay here if it doesn't work," Lu says.

June 21, Lu takes graduation photo in the campus. She became a journalist of Guangzhou TV Station in May. Before graduation, she has worked in Guangzhou for one month. She needs to go back to work after taking the graduation photos.

IT engineer Xiao Xu: I was relieved to find a job

March 4, 23-year-old Xu inquires about a job opportunity in a job fair held at Beijing Workers Stadium. A junior college graduate, Xu has two years of experience as a PHP development engineer. He used to develop software in a vending machine company, until the end of last year when the company's development team dissolved. Xu was unemployed and went hometown. Right after the Spring Festival holiday, he returned to Beijing to look for a job.

Xu prints ten copies of his resume, each copy has two pages, one shows his personal profile, and the other page displays his work experience. Xu believes that with his professional integrity and experience, he can get a job before all these copies are sent out.

Once Xu had an interview, he arrived on time but waited for two hours because the HR manager was having a meeting. He had to wait.

After an interview in Changping District, Xu takes the subway home in Tongzhou District. He looks tired due to the long distance travel and continuous talking.

Xu pays RMB 1,600 monthly rent for the master bedroom in his co-rented two-bedroom apartment. He used to work overtime everyday in the former start-up company. He got home at 11pm and then left for work early in the next morning. He stuck up with the high-intensive work but never expected his team would be gone. Having no work to do, he feels stressed. "I don't sleep well and feel nervous even when I play games," Xu says.

In March, Xu got the job of a development engineer. He's finally relieved. The company has ended his three-month probation in advance because of his outstanding performance.

Xu has just received the key to his new apartment from the house agent. "I came to Beijing with RMB 5,000 in my pocket," he recalled. Xu has made the company a new starting point of study and growth. "I'm not the first to come, also not the last to leave," he says.


The article is edited by @Yi LIU (Email:;  Mobile/WeChat: +86 13911703028). The Chinese version article is published with authorization from the author @Zack Chen. Please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.

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