THESE days, a supermarket worker sorting boxes may have a bachelor's degree in business management.

At least that's the case for graduate Li Chunping, from Jiangnan University, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.

The 23-year-old wanted to be a sales representative in a big company after graduating in June. But the companies to which he applied turned him down.

"I can't even depend upon this current job — there's a six-month probation period," Li said.

Li moved off-campus in July and rented a two-bedroom apartment with three other classmates. Earning a monthly salary of 650 yuan, he can barely make ends meet. Li took the supermarket job last month to hold him over, hoping he could find something better in time.

With graduates leaving campus in June and July, the recruiting season for this year's graduates has passed its peak time. Jobless grads now have to compete with others in the job market. Without work experience, they do not have many advantages.

This year's total number of university graduates reached 4.13 million, up by 22 per cent over last year's total, according to statistics from the Ministry of Education. But according to the Ministry of Personnel, the job market only needs 1.66 million new graduates.

With the tough employment market, Hong Xiangyang, consultant of Shanghai Sunward Career Consultant Company, said that "learning to cope with frustration might be the first thing for grads to learn".

Hong suggested students still without jobs consider the job-hunting process as their work and spend eight hours a day, five days a week, to find a position.

Liu Nan, a graduate from Central University For Nationalities in Beijing, recently went to a job fair held by Beijing Human Resources Market. She was stopped at the gate.

"I showed the gate keeper my student identification and he didn't let me in," Liu recalled. "He told me that this fair is only for experienced workers and not open to new graduates."

With a degree in tourism management, Liu has been trying to get a job in one of Beijing's government departments.

"I've sent out resumes to all the positions applicable, both in city governments and at district levels," Liu said, "but I haven't got even one reply."

Help may be on the way for Liu and others like her.

A report released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security this month said that China is going to create 9 million new jobs in cities and towns this year for graduates and migrant workers.

Starting from September 1, jobless graduates will be able to register at local labour markets in their hometown and enjoy special employment policies and services. Among the 7,414 registered unemployed graduates in Guangzhou — the pilot province, 6,157 of them found jobs during the last year. (Out of privacy, 21st Century changed the given names of the graduates.)

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applicable: 可适用的

cope with: 适应

pilot: 试行的

probation: 见习

recruit: 招工