China's Superstitious Employers Commit 'Zodiac Discrimination' Against Job Seekers

Luopan Feng Shui Compass
A feng shui compass, which is known as a luopan in Chinese Flickr/ Jerry Wong

Sometimes your work experience, skills and connections aren’t enough to land the job. But as if that weren't enough, some job-seekers in China are finding themselves passed over because of a phenomenon called “Zodiac discrimination” -- rejected because they are the wrong astrological sign.

According to the Bandao Morning News, a local paper in the northeastern province of Liaoning, being a Gemini could give you a leg up over other applicants. Xu Jingmin, a recent college graduate, was discouraged when she found a job opening at a travel agency that matched her qualifications and experience, only to find out that only applicants with a specific sign would be considered. “We are looking for Gemini, Libra and Aquarius,” the ad said, according to the paper. This meant Xu, who is a Leo, wouldn’t get the job.

According to the report, employers also like to steer clear of Virgos and Libras because they tend to me more “picky” and are more likely to abandon a company or project than their peers of other signs.

But many insist that they do not discriminate. “We have lots of Leo colleagues despite a belief that they are bad-tempered,” Sydney Wen, a manager working in finance, told the South China Morning Post. She adding that her company has never turned down an applicant based solely on their sign. “It might be a criterion to consider, but I will not make my decisions based on this alone,” she added.

But many Chinese are still very superstitious, and with this comes belief in feng shui, qi (energy) and the compatibility of different signs. This May, officials at the Land Resources Bureau in central Hunan province, an office that was previously flooded with inquiries about rampant pollution, attributed their change of luck to changes in feng shui. They said that before they erected a wall to block out “harmful qi,” their office was in a scandal-ridden slump. “Our bureau wasn’t doing so well until we erected the barrier last year,” an official who worked there said, according to a report by the New York Times. “Now, things are a lot better.”

Terrence Wong, a Hong Kong public relations executive who is familiar witch the practice of feng shui and superstition in the workplace, said the company Xu applied to is probably a rarity. He said employers will more often refer to applicants' Chinese Zodiac animals (born in the Year of the Dragon or Tiger or whatever) to see whether they are compatible with a team.

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