Adjusting to Korean Life - Things to Know When Job Searching in Korea

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To start, depending on your legal status (F4 Visa, Dual Citizen, Korean Citizen, etc), employment restrictions may apply. For F4 visa holders, there are certain restrictions as to what jobs you can legally have. These restrictions especially apply to simple labor and service industry jobs.

Besides how your legal status affects employment opportunities - below are some things to be aware of when job searching in Korea. Finding employment for adoptees can be challenging and I hope the following information will make it easier for you to integrate into the Korean working environment.

Business Card/Name Card (명함)

Since most working professionals in Korea have a business card, have one made to exchange, even if you are not employed. If you are currently job searching, your business card can state your education, qualifications/specializations, and contact information. For your contact information, having a phone number is important; Koreans still call frequently.

When exchanging business cards with Koreans, use two hands when giving and receiving a card. Study the card and pay attention to their name and position. A person’s title and position determines politeness of speech in Korean.

Do not write on business cards in Korea. After speaking with the person, do not put it in your wallet or back pocket; a business card holder/case is best. Showing respect for a person’s business card translates to showing respect for the person you have met.

Korean Language

Even foreign companies in Korea most likely require some level of Korean to communicate with co-workers, management, clients, and other business partners. There are many ways to study Korean and improve your proficiency but below are a few examples:

  • Online resources - websites/blogs, mobile/digital learning tools

  • Attending language classes in Korea - at universities, hagwons, or government provided classes (Global Centers, Korea Foundation). G.O.A.’L offers scholarships to many university programs in Seoul.

  • Taking classes in your home country - at universities or there may be local community offerings as well.

  • Language exchanges - 1:1 or group

  • Private Tutoring - can supplement classes you are taking or if you simply prefer 1:1 lessons. If you are in Korea, G.O.A.’L can help you find a tutor.

  • Studying Korean terms in your career field - especially if you’d like to work in a particular area or specialty.

  • Study for and take the TOPIK II test

    • Level 5 or higher is considered advanced and can vette your Korean ability for companies via this government test. However, some companies will accept a lower score depending on job duties/requirements.

Networking

Especially in Korea, it is important to expand your network and make connections. Koreans’ networks are built from three general categories of regional, kin, and school/military. That is, Koreans start building their close network from elementary school and also utilize relationships from their hometown, family, clubs/social groups, military service, and alumni groups for later business opportunities. Here are a few ways to build you network in Korea:

  • Language exchanges

  • Clubs/Interest/Hobby/Meetup groups

  • Professional Organizations

  • Volunteering

  • Mutual Friends

  • Co-workers

  • Classmates

Resume/Self-Introduction

It is a good idea to create a Korean version of your resume. Keep in mind the format is very different from a western-style resume. While there are a few variations, in general, the Korean resume highlights one’s education, skills, certifications, employers, and job titles. The Korean resume does not go into detail in terms of job duties, job descriptions, or achievements. However, it does include a photo and also may include information traditionally not on a western resume (i.e. information regarding your family).

Your Korean self-introduction (자기소개) is where you can go more indepth as to your motivation for applying, relevant experience, your strengths and weaknesses, and your background. In general, the 자기소개 typically includes four basic topics: 성장과정 (Background/”Growth Process”), 성격의 장/단점 (Strengths/Weaknesses), 관심분야(지원분야 위주) 및 경력사항 (Areas of Interest and Experience), and 지원동기 및 비전 (Motivation and Vision). Typically, the self-introduction is no longer than one page in length.

In regards to the photo on the resume, recently legislation has been introduced that would prohibit employers from requesting photos as well as prohibiting employers from asking about family history, marital status, and other factors that could lead to discrimination. However, this legislation has yet to be passed into law.

Business Services

The Seoul Global Center offers a variety of services including start-up incubation. Check out their website for more information. Other major cities have global/international centers that also offer business services.
 

Searching for Jobs

You can utilize headhunters and recruiters within Korea as well as in your home country. Recruiters are used frequently for placing teachers at private academies as well as public schools in Korea. In addition, headhunters and recruiters are used by Koreans and foreigners alike for other career fields. If you are currently employed in your home country, explore possibilities of working remotely or being placed abroad within your current company or industry.

English Teaching Recruiters - The recruiters’ websites have information and advice about how to acquire a teaching job and receive placement. Below are a few in no particular order:

Headhunters/Recruiters/Executive Search  - There are many other recruiters and headhunting agencies that specialize in job placement for many different industries as well as executive positions. Below are a few in no particular order. For those that I was able to contact for more information, their specifics are listed:

Internet Job Portals/Job Boards - Remember to use common sense when browsing these online job forums and be wary of giving anyone your personal information. Below are a few websites in no particular order:

*NOTE: G.O.A.’L is not endorsing nor has formally vetted any agency, recruiter, headhunter, or website listed above*

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G.O.A.'L will continue to advocate for employment opportunities for adoptees. Contact the G.O.A.’L Community Mentor for any questions
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