For a growing number of Chinese people, the most productive thing to do with one's spare time is to study for some kind of certification. From languages to business skills to teaching, certifications act as proof that you are skilled in something very specific. More and more, a resume with degrees and work experiences looks a bit boring; certifications are like accessories – they complete the outfit.
Certifications accomplish several purposes. First, they show employers that you're diversified; you have made an effort to learn skills outside of your major or occupation. Also, certifications show that you are proactive; you don’t sit around in your spare time. Instead, you’re constantly looking to improve yourself. This is what sets applicants apart from the rest when applying for a sought-after position.
In my opinion, certifications are attractive, but should not be over-emphasized. Communication skills are equally as important, and can be honed and strengthened without paying for a class. After all, interviews are concerned with more than what is on the paper.