Hu Jie, a senior at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, skipped classes one morning last week to take an important step in finding a good job. She was off to the other end of the city to have her pictures taken at the "magic photo studio."
Located on Guangling Road in Hongkou District, the Qunlin photo studio has earned fame among local university students for the resume and credential photos it takes.
The studio, which gained its "magic" nickname from one local student, is able to handle 50 students a day, and it is already booked through the end of November, despite not accepting telephone reservations.
People who come to take photos can choose to wear professional outfits offered in the studio - such as white skirts and suits - to look more business- like. Cosmeticians will also make up the clients and offer advice on clothing.
The photo studio even has contracts with beauty saloons nearby to offer hair styling and professional cosmetic services for its clients.
Any flaws the stylists can't remove, the studio staff can clean up with an air brush.
The company has earned such fame that it can charge 50 yuan (US$6) and take two hours to create a set of photos, while its competition only charges 20 yuan and can have clients in and out in less than 10 minutes.
"I don't care about time and money, if a good image can be shot to facilitate my job-hunting process," said Zhu Lin, a senior at Shanghai University.
Like a growing number of students and job hunters, she believes better-looking people find better jobs.
So far, some 30,000 people have had their credential photos taken at Qunlin, which first became popular among students at nearby universities - such as Shanghai International Studies University and Shanghai University of Economics and Finance. Its reputation has since spread to almost every local college.
In the past, before the reservation system was put in place, students would even line up overnight for photos, said a photographer surnamed Zhang.
Human resource managers admit appearance plays an important role in the hiring process.
"The first thing we do when reading a resume is to glance at the photo, especially for those job positions with appearance requirements," said Zhang Qian, a HR official at a local German company.
Though some employers do tend to prefer good-looking employees, most ordinary-looking applicants still can find a satisfactory job, said Liu Tianyun of Shanghai Talents Service Center.
"Most companies in our center still emphasize people's ability. It is only when two people are of the same competence that the balance will shift to the better-looking one," said Liu.
(eastday.com October 13, 2003)