To start, depending on your legal status (F-4 visa, dual citizen, Korean citizen, etc), there may be some employment restrictions. For example, F-4 visa holders have certain restrictions as to what jobs they 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, it is important to have one made that you can exchange, even if you are not employed or if you are doing freelance or contracted work, like private tutoring. If you are currently job searching, your business card can state your level of education, a few qualifications/specializations, and your basic contact information. Contact information should always include a phone number, if possible; Koreans still like to call.

When exchanging business cards, use both 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 any business cards you receive. After speaking with the person, do not put the card 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

Though many positions do not require Korean language to work at the company, being able to communicate in Korean is still extremely important. Not all your co-workers, management, clients, and other business partners will speak English at a working level. You do not have to be discouraged, however. There are many ways to study Korean and improve your proficiency. 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 local community offerings

  • Language exchanges - 1:1 or group

  • Private tutoring - supplement classes you are already taking or if you simply prefer 1:1 lessons

  • Studying Korean terms related to 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. The typical Korean network is built from three general categories: regional, kin, and school/military. That is, Koreans start building their close network from elementary school. They 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 your own 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 Korean resume format is very different from a Western-style resume. The Korean resume highlights 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 and your age).

Your Korean self-introduction (자기소개) is where you can go more indepth as to your motivation for applying, relevant experience, strengths and weaknesses, and your background. In general, the 자기소개 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.

Recently, new 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.

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 helpful places to start:

*NOTE: G.O.A.’L does not formally endorse nor vette 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

Updated on 21/02/2020

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