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Wang Chao was stunned when he glanced through the online graduate job vacancies at his university. One advert especially caught his eye, and he could scarcely believe what he was reading: "Designer wanted, Virgo only."
The senior student, majoring in arts design in the Journalism and Communications Department at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Wuhan, Hubei province, saw the ad in early March as he was busy correcting part of his graduation project, an animated film. The advert said Virgos were the preferred candidates because the sign is associated with perfectionists, making them ideal candidates for that type of work.
"I don`t understand: If I am not qualified for the job and am rejected, I sort of can accept that," he said over the phone, "but if they turn me down simply because of my star sign, then I think that`s unacceptable."
China Daily was unable to garner a response from the company that posted the ad. Meanwhile, the BBS thread was deleted immediately after students posted messages complaining about the ad. "I had no influence on the positions of the stars and planets when I was born," said Wang, "but the recruitment manager at the company insisted on a Virgo."
It may be the first time that Wang Chao has encountered "horoscopeism", as the phenomenon has been dubbed by the Chinese media, but the practice of choosing employees according to their astrological sign is becoming more widely adopted.
Liu Ming has been working as a human resources executive with the Wuxi-based Guolian Securities for about five years. He said some managers have asked him to pay more attention to the astrological signs of applicants. "A manager, born under the sign of Gemini, asked us to find someone who would match him in terms of personality, according to astrology. However, we did not take his advice. In fact, it`s about the very last thing we would take into consideration. Candidates` working, learning and communication abilities are way more important," said Liu.
Meanwhile, Li Qin has been working as a headhunter in Beijing for about four years. She found that multinational companies, especially European ones, will stress the subject of astrology when recruiting managerial assistants or secretaries for the executives. "This type of screening is already done when they are going through the resumes. Normally applicants have no idea they`ve been turned down only because their astrological sign does not match the executive in question," said Li.
However, experts in relevant fields hold different views on horoscopeism.
"It is a bit preposterous," said Chen Xin, senior career consultant for Zhaopin.com. "The signs of the zodiac were once seen simply as part of small talk among young people, who were trying to get to know each other better. They have never been viewed as a good method of evaluating a person`s professional qualifications, character or personality. Not in an important way, at least."
However, for some employers, astrological signs are becoming a yardstick by which to assess potential employees. In November, an ad was posted on the campus of China University of Geosciences in Wuhan saying, "English teacher and secretaries wanted. Preferred candidates are Capricorn, Libra and Pisces. Virgo or Scorpio need not apply."
The recruitment manager of the institution said that in her experience, Virgos tend to be fussy and frequent job-hoppers. Meanwhile, the manager, surnamed Xia, said that Scorpios are tough and bad tempered, according to reports in the local media.
The rapid development of new media, including the increasing number of people using smartphones and the proliferation of social networking sites, has resulted in easier and growing access to a vast reservoir of information about the horoscope.
Many people prefer to let the astrologicals be their guide, but remember that astrological signs are only a decoration for life, designed to provide encouragement during the darkest moments. Believe it or not, it is up to you.