Young jobseekers are taking extreme steps to bolster their resumes so that they can grab the attention of recruiters amid intensifying competition in the job market. They want to go beyond high academic scores and language skill and put themselves through tough conditions in remote locations to prove their endurance.
One recruiter at a major conglomerate said, "We've seen some resumes that would make professional explorers blush."
In the past a student might trek across Korea on foot or by bicycle, but now jobseekers cross the Sahara Desert, Chile’s Atacama Desert, China's Gobi Desert or the Amazon Jungle. Others cycle across the U.S.
What is driving these young people is a sense that they would otherwise be another face in the crowd.
Yang Yoo-jin (25), who took part in a 250 km race across the Gobi Desert, said, "I tried everything that others do to get a job, but I felt I needed to show more on my resume and convince job recruiters that I am passionate and driven."
Another jobseeker, who gave his name as Seo, said his chances of landing interviews increased after he ran the Ironman Triathlon.
And Huh Hyuk, who climbed the snow-capped peaks of Bolivia, showed recruiters a photo of himself atop one of those ridges and told them working overtime or on weekends is a walk in the park for him. He ended up getting a job at a major conglomerate.
Experts say the widespread use of social media has the effect of prodding more young jobseekers to go to extremes.
Prof. Kim Joong-baek at Kyunghee University said, "Social media have enabled job seekers to share their experiences with more people, and this has led to the growing interest in outdoor adventure."
But one recruiter in a large conglomerate said, "One of the finalists in a recent recruitment drive crossed Siberia, but he didn't get the job. The experience must have something to do with the job the person is applying for."