Conglomerates' Hiring Practices Are Out of Date

The Samsung Group has decided to return to a former method of hiring workers by screening their resumes. The conglomerate tried out a new method in recent years allowing anyone to apply by taking a standardized exam and selecting the highest scorers. But this caused 200,000 applicants to flock to test centers and no fewer than 50 books to be published with tips on improving test scores. Even some dedicated private crammers cropped up, making a mockery of the whole process.

Jobseekers these days go all out to get the major specifications: solid academic background, good grades, English proficiency, language study experience abroad, certificates of qualifications, volunteer experience, corporate internships and awards. Some travel to Africa for volunteer work just to pad out their resumes, while others devote a considerable money and time to obtaining unique qualifications like life guards or bartenders.

Surveys show jobseekers forking out W10-20 million (US$1=1,064) to build up their qualifications.

Samsung says it will now place a high priority on core academic scores and experience that has a direct bearing on the positions applicants seek. Also, it promised to accept 5,000 recommendations from the heads of 200 universities across the country, and those applicants can then forego the resume screening process. Applicants will no longer be required to produce a resume crammed with irrelevant qualifications.

It remains to be seen whether these new recruiting practices lead to any meaningful changes in the preference among university graduates for jobs only in major conglomerates. Last year, employment among young Koreans plunged below 40 percent for the first time. On top of that, 70 percent of the nation's top 30 business groups will either freeze or reduce hiring this year as they tighten their belt. This is bound to intensify already heated competition for a limited number of positions.

First of all, young jobseekers must learn to think out of the box and look for work in small and mid-sized businesses, become entrepreneurs or try and get hired overseas. And big businesses need to stop hiring batches of fresh university grads each year. That may have been necessary during the rapid growth days of the 1970s and 80s when there was a shortage of educated staff. But in times of low growth and an abundance of talented workers with overseas experience the practice is outdated.

Big businesses must cut down on their annual recruitment drive and seek new talent through recommendations or by scouting highly skilled workers. If Samsung or Hyundai start looking at small and medium-sized companies to recruit experienced workers, university grads will change their attitudes.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 17, 2014 13:42 KST