Resumes in China: Evolution, Perceptions, Practices, and Implications for International Professional Communication
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This study sought to understand how the workplace genre, resume, has evolved in China in the past few decades, how the genre has interacted with sociocultural factors and related genres in the process of evolution, and how people perceive and practice this genre currently in China. By analyzing the historical contexts and textual data, I have identified three major evolutionary stages of resumes in this country: the stage from 1985 to 2000 when resumes just appeared, the successive stage from the turn of 21st century to the late 2000s when resumes were largely self-designed and submitted directly to HR officers in person or via email, and the current stage starting from the late 2000s when resumes are intensively created and submitted through online job search sites. Resumes in each stage have unique features and the documents have changed over time. The features and changes can be accounted for by the political, cultural, economic, and technological forces in the Chinese society in different historical periods. Prominent in resume practices in China is that two major languages are involved: Chinese and English. Influences from both local traditions and imported conventions of workplace discourses are revealed in both Chinese and English resumes. The dual influences partially reflect a characteristic of today’s world, cultural blending, as a result of globalization. When Chinese resumes are still viewed and used as the primary documents in recruitment, English resumes are making their way in the Chinese job market. There is a potential that Chinese companies are growing to operate and behave in an international and inter-cultural manner. To conclude, the resume genre in China is a microcosm of the complex, unique Chinese sociocultural influence. It also reflects combined influences from both local Chinese culture and imported Western culture. As a hot spot of international business activities, China is of special value for the study of international professional communication. The picture of resume practices in the country, as depicted in this study, may serve as a window to an understanding of professional communication in the country and further enrich our understanding of international professional communication as a whole.
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