How to look for work in Seoul


In the past Korean companies recruited white collar personnel directly from colleges and universities through open screening exams. For example in 1988 over three-quarters of college graduates hired by the 50 largest business groups in Korea were recruited in this way. Another 21% were recruited through referrals and recommendations. Smaller companies have typically gone through the more painstaking process of running ads in the media and then screening hundreds of applications in search of qualified candidates. Using specialist recruiting agents to fill positions only started to become popular in Korea from the mid-1990s.

The job uncertainty and increased labour mobility of today’s market as meant that Korean workers now tend to regard job changes as a way of upgrading their personal value. For Korean companies, the new labour environment means that traditional recruiting methods are less relevant, making executive recruiting firms more popular. A shift from the traditional seniority-based personnel system to merit-based personnel systems has also been noticed.

Firms searching for qualified white collar employees in Korea typically focus on three major groups of candidates: locals, expatriates, and “returnees” – that is, native-born Koreans who have studied, worked or even taken citizenship in other countries and want to return home to pursue greater employment possibilities. Indeed a growing number of such people, particularly from the US, are returning to Korea to fill management positions.

Korea boasts the largest proportion of internet users per head of population of any country in the world so it won’t surprise you to learn the web is the place to find valuable and up-to-date job databases and resources:

Update 17/05/2010


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