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


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.


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