Experts have attributed a drop in the number of eligible applicants for the national civil service examination to China's ongoing anti-corruption campaign.
As of 8 am on Friday, 10 hours before the deadline, the number of eligible candidates for the 2015 Civil Servant Test stood at 1.06 million, compared with 1.52 million last year, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said.
The final number of eligible candidates will be available on Sunday.
Ministry spokesman Li Zhong said, "There are definitely fewer applicants for this year's exam."
In recent years, millions of candidates have signed up to take the exam. Civil service jobs are viewed as an opportunity for a stable life, a good pension plan, handsome salary, and promotion prospects.
Zhang Yan, a researcher at the Shaanxi Academy of Social Sciences, said people stereotype civil servants.
"Most candidates are attracted to the job by the good welfare benefits and prestige it can bring," Zhang said.
But reality can be different.
Li Jia, a 26-year-old with an English-language major who became a civil servant at a community office in Wanpingcheng, in Beijing's Fengtai district, complains about long hours and routine office work.
Since Xi Jinping took the helm of the Communist Party of China in November 2012, the Party has drawn up a series of detailed regulations to end bureaucratic and extravagant work practices among government employees.
The new rules include requiring officials to travel with smaller entourages, simplifying receptions and practicing frugality.
When Li Jia took the job, her monthly salary was 1,700 yuan (S$354). She has been affected by the ongoing crackdown on officials' perks, dinner receptions and extravagance.
Yan Jirong, a professor at Peking University, said, "The government reforms to cut red tape have produced uncertain factors in some departments, even the previously powerful ones."