Daily Archives: October 25, 2010

Things I Still Don’t Get Used To on Korean Hiring/Resume

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1) Family Information

Basically, the idea is, it is possible to guess someone’s personality by taking a look at your parents.  Works to some degree, I guess.  But at the same time, thinking that there are people who might be automatically filtered out just because their parents are marked as divorce, not living together, have some not-very-grand occupation, or have low-level of education, it is not entirely fair.  And, what about the candidates who is “exceptional” from his/her family?  For instance, if you see someone grew up under alcoholic and abusive father, thus divorced parents and raised under single mother, people tend to assume (at least in South Korea) that the person is sheltered, have too strong personality, probably abusive if not potential alcoholic.  But there are always people who did not follow their parents’ footprints.  What about them?

2) Physical Information

This is one thing I just can’t get used to it.  If I am applying for a receptionist, salesperson, or beauty-related industry, it is understandable.  But why, oh why, do you have to put your height, weight, gender, photo, blood type and eyesight when you are applying for human resource assistant manager, or marketing manager, or IT maintenance officer?  I wonder what would happen if I put the height for 4’5″ and 160 pound for applying for English editor.  Probably the employers here will trash my resume, not really giving a look at my language skills or background.  What if there is a genius marketer with great personality who happens to be a transgender?  I will be surprised if he/she is hired by Korean company.

3) Boot-Camp Style Training/Candidate Filtering

Again, basically, companies believe this is great way to find out the real personalities of candidates by putting them into extreme situation.  For new employee training, they think this is the best way to build a team-spirit.  I can see why, and it is true – your real personality comes out when you are in an extreme situation, or under tight surveillance for days.  By boot-camp style, I mean it.  LG makes the new employees to do some 12-mile hardcore hiking as a part of new employee training.  During the entire hiking, you have to wear a company uniform.  Samsung’s new employees do mass-games.  If you do a good search on Youtube, you will be able to find some leaked videos.  It has been a sensation in South Korea when it first leaked, and people (public including current and past Samsung employees) had a split opinion.  I couldn’t help myself thinking about North Korean mass games.  It’s still group > individual in South Korea and yet they say they want a creative individual.

After all, putting that hiking and marine boot camp retreat means, physically handicapped candidates have no hope in applying.  How can you bear it if you are a candidate with your lower half of the body paralyzed, or have dwarfism, or have cerebral palsy?  Basically, the companies are indirectly saying: we don’t want any physically handicapped people here.  Few days ago, there was a news article saying there is zero physically handicapped employees in top 80 firms of Korea, despite the government’s effort to increase the number of physically handicapped employees.  Reading this, I could not help thinking about people I know back in college and a blind Korean girl who took LSAT in Korea: in college, one of my classmate was legally blind but he attended all classes with his guide dog.  Another dorm neighbor of mine had a cerebral palsy and could not move above her shoulder.  The school lend her an electronic wheelchair and installed automatic door on her room.  Recently, there was a blind girl who took LSAT in Korea.  LSAC sent her a separate copy of test booklet all written in Braille, along with official answer marking person.  That probably won’t happen here.  The moment you check the box of “physically handicapped, level X,” your resume’s chance to make it to next round decreases dramatically.

If you want to apply for a position in a well-known insurance company, you have to visit their building and turn in all applications and documents by hand.  They don’t accept any on-line application or fax.  Why?  Well, the CEO thinks that shows how passionate the candidate is to the company.  Fine, but he needs to think that job seekers need to open their options wide – they can’t just put all eggs in one basket!    And really, do you want someone living in Busan yet willing to apply to this company, spend $120 for train ride to just to turn in his/her resume?  Some well-known companies actually make the candidates drunk by endless suggestions of soju-bomb.  Yes, your alcoholic intake limit is counted as a job skill set, and if you can’t, you lose points.  In Korea, it is possible for companies to hire a candidate who drinks shit load of sojubomb well with their bosses over someone who is experienced in the job.

And they probably won’t like a fellow Korean bringing up all these questions up to their face.

A Proper Blogging

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There is quite a famous Korean blogger.  She is a succesful woman who overcame a lot of hardship and rocky life – poor upbringing, went to vocational training high school (in Korea, if you say you go vocational training high school, people really look down on you and your resume will be filtered out automatically in most of the cases), ex-gang member, later went to great university in Korea, got a very nice job, then struck down by a cancer, survived, went to UK, and now working as a manager in Royal Dutch Shell.  She published a book which sold very well.  She was on TV.  I won’t comment her real name, since my blog posting about her is not the most positive one (and after all, I’m blogging anonymously, so me commenting her real name will not be fair).  If you have a Korean friend, or can do internet search in Korean, you will find her pretty easily.  Also let me make this clear – I have no intention to attack her personality, or her achievements.  What she achieved is great and she earned it.

Before she became nation-wide famous like now, I did visit her blog while I was searching for foreign visa sponsorship.  My friend who lived in UK for a while said their immigration policy is much more rational and flexible than US, so I was gathering up some information on that (now it really doesn’t matter – who wants to even “touch” immigration regulations when in recession?  That’s suicidal).  The lady I mentioned earlier was working in UK, and responding to massive request she posted some writings on what she did and how she got her visa sponsorship.  It was all good, but what made me uncomfortable reading her post was her tone.  In short, I felt: I tried very hard to earn it.  It’s not impossible.  Therefore, you people who complain and worry about this and that are just a lazy bunch.

I guess she deserves to say it, given that she had a lot of hardship yet able to overcome all that out of her willpower and tremendous effort.  I also understand there is always that group of people who just comes to your cyberspace and ask a favor or information right away, without a word of gratuitous, compliment, or apologize.  On the top of that, there is always that bunch who don’t even bother to do search before asking questions.  I would not be surprised if she was irritated by the overflowing number of impolite visitors.  But I still do not think it is a nice to thing to say, especially on some place where weekly visitor hit is over 100.  Whether you intended to or did not intend at all, you getting recognized by increasing number of people expose you to a very diverse group of individuals.  In my humble opinion, basically what she said was a kind of prejudice – judging others solely on your experience.  Everyone is different; everyone’s experiences are different; and everyone’s reaction to that experience is different.   Additionally, getting a visa sponsorship to work in foreign country involves a handful amount of luck, especially in recessions like this.  By luck, I mean the factor(s) that is/are out of your control.  Even the most talented person can face epic fail when it comes to a visa sponsorship.  I know, a lot of things in this world have more factors that is uncontrollable than controllable.  Visa sponsorship is especially so (I think pretty much all TCK/CCKs hate any kind of immigration regulations for this reason!).  I think many people complained about her tone and how she posted the information – she later said there has been many changes since she got her sponsorship.  I don’t recall reading her apology, though.

Secondly, it is somewhat uncomfortable reading how she is not a fan of South Korean society, yet she keeps blogging in Korean on Korean blogging service provider to Korean audiences, and posting some of Shell’s company magazine clip of her, mentioning how she wants people to know more about Korea and how she is proud to be Korean and such.  I mean, it’s really her choice and I can’t really say anything.  It’s her blog, and if she wants to blog in Korean on Korean service provider and to Korean website, fine.  But I mean…it does feel a bit strange to me.  Funny thing is, it reminds me of an old debate thread on TCK website about nationalism/patriotism.  Almost all TCKs don’t buy the idea of nationalism/patriotism.  Some even went to disliking people saying “I am proud to be XXX.”  Quoting, “what are you proud of?  It’s a part of you, so you are proud to be yourself?!?!”  As of me, as long as that “pride” is not pushed down to my throat by some other person, I’m cool with it.

I know, I admit I'm not free from this pic, either.

Lastly, her posting pictures of her colleagues and friends – many not Korean – on her blog is just disagreeable to me.  Maybe I am over-using my imagination, but sometimes I feel like she is posting them to brag: “look my exotic friends, how cool it is!”   If her friends know the existence of her blog, and know that their pictures are uploaded and shown to public, no problem.  If that’s not the case, I don’t think it’s appropriate.  If my blog is some very popular blog with over million hits, I would definitely not upload the pictures of my friends and colleagues without their consent.  If I really want to upload it, I’d probably blur their faces.  Apparently, all my pics on Facebook are open only to people on my friends list, and I do not accept people as a Facebook friend unless I have, at least, talked with the person several times.

In short, my two cents on proper blogging is:

1) Know your audience (so you would not make any unnecessary enemy, or taken advantage of)

2) Don’t upload things related to others’ privacy, including their pics, unless you have their consent.

I no longer go to her blog.  It doesn’t matter to her, since she is already famous, has a lot of fans, and her book is selling well.  And I’ll probably look like some loser who is jealous of her success and have too much time.