In December 1995, after serving in CYL for over ten years, Ling was transferred to General Office of the Communist Party of China, and continued his work in political theory. Between 1994 and 1996 Ling obtained an "on-job master's degree" in commercial management at Hunan University. In June 1998, he was promoted to head of research office of the General Office (中央办公厅调研室主任). In December 1999, Ling was appointed as deputy director of General Office. Later, he also served as the deputy chief of the General Office in charge of the Central Institutional Organization Commission, and chief of staff of the Office of General Secretary Hu Jintao.