Grads-to-be in central China's Henan Province have found a way to make the best use of their small job-hunting budget: renting clothes for interviews.
"Normally, formal suits are required for a job interview, which may cost me around 1,000 yuan (around 142 U.S. dollars)," said GuoJing, a job hunter at Henan University of Technology in Zhengzhou, the Henan capital.
"It's economical to rent a suit, which only costs 20 yuan (2.8 U.S. dollars)," he said.
A recent survey conducted by the university showed more than 62percent of students were willing to rent clothes before meeting job interviewers.
The phenomena has spawned a cottage industry as local shops that provide clothes rental have found a huge potential market before the annual job-hunting season.
Li Caimin, who opened a small dress shop in Zhengzhou City three months ago, has seen a rising number of college students for her rental business.
"My customers are not necessarily poor students who could not afford a suit. Many preferred renting a suit before they could buy one with their own salary, rather than (relying on) their parents."
In her shop, daily suit rentals range from 20 yuan to 70 yuan. She also provides free make-up and image design service for customers. "More and more students are visiting my shop as the spirit of independence become more popular among them," she said.
Clothes rentals could also help students if they needed proper styles for different job interviews, said Li Jinglei, a Zhengzhou University sociologist.
Zhang Qin, a tutor of employment at the university, said a garment does not need to be gorgeous, a decent suit will be enough. He stressed the overall competence of a person is the only guarantee for a job opportunity.
Renting professional and formal suits to college students is also playing out in some big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, where job-hunters are trying to give a good impression to their ideal companies.
In recent years, China has been under great pressure as the number of college graduates surges. According to statistics, 5.59million students will graduate from higher education institutions in 2008, an increase of 640,000 over last year.
The employment issue would become "more protruding" as more graduates enter the market each year, a senior official with the country's labor and social security authority said.