Applying for a job

Cover letter, CV and job interviews

Applying for a job

In this section we provide you with information and useful advice concerning job applications in South Korea. Find some useful information about conduct in a job interview here.

Professionalism is KEY! Above all else, remember that the application process is nothing short of serious. The people responsible for reviewing applications and CV’s want only the best which, in Korea, usually translates to the most professional candidate. Follow these few steps on preparing your application and corresponding documents so you can be ready to compete in the business market.

Writing an application

You can expect that most companies already have a common application form for their applicants. And although some may offer an English version, there is a chance that others will not. In such a case, it is best to have someone reliable to help you translate the document. It is important that you don’t make mistakes on an application because that will be the first thing a company will see and notice about you. Leave a good, lasting impression from the start.

The cover letter is going to be the thing that sets you apart from everyone else applying for the job. The application may show the employer some things about you, but the cover letter is your voice on paper. While maintaining your professional stance, set yourself apart from the rest of the applicants. Explain why you would be a good fit for the position without sounding arrogant or fake.

Presentation of CV

Use your curriculum vitae to sell yourself and open your potential employer's eyes to your worth.

  • Order
    Always take the professional approach when writing your CV. Korean employer's attribute professionalism to seriousness and hard work. Show that you are capable of doing the job by organizing your thoughts clearly and orderly.
  • Introduction/Biography
    List your full name, address, e-mail address, phone number (with your appropriate country dialing code) and any other contact information that you find necessary. After you introduce yourself with all your personal information, briefly touch on your skills (computer, language, etc). This section should be concise and straightforward. It is best to only include key words instead of lengthy, flowery sentences.
  • Objective
    Explain in one or two statements the position for which you are applying for and why. This will show the employer the goals you have set in mind for yourself and the company.
  • Experience and Education
    This is where you list your past experiences and special awards. Starting from the most recent, name the company(ies) for which you have worked and any special honors you achieved while working. After professional experience you should list the details of your education and enrollment in other non-academic institutions if they pertain to the job at hand.
    Similar to work experience, in the order of the most recent, list the university(ies)/college(s) you have attended and any degrees and/or honors you may have obtained. Each educational institution should be accompanied by a date and location, final grade average, study abroad experience, extracurriculars or clubs, etc. You may also list your high school/secondary school experience. The employer should get a good idea of your qualifications from this section.
  • References
    In case an employer wants to further investigate your accomplishments and find out more about you in general, he or she may want a list of professional and personal references. Make wise choices about who to include in your list and don't forget to include their contact information and relation to you. Even if the employer does not utilize this tool, it is helpful to have it readily available just in case.

Conduct in a job interview

As discussed earlier, there is no room for arrogance in Korean culture, especially when doing business. As the interviewee, you are expected to show respect to a potential supervisor and loyalty to the company to which you are applying. Korean culture suggests that deviating from such traditions during an interview is easily perceived as an insult and nearly unforgivable.

  • Understand your position. Take the initiative and bow first, since you are in a lower position than your interviewer. Shaking hands is reserved for more personal relationships, so unless the interviewer extends his/her hand first, you are expected to bow.
  • Do not interrupt. Whatever the interviewer has to say is not to be taken lightly and therefore should be heard throughout. It is merely a sign of respect to allow the interviewer to control the floor.
  • Speak modestly. Whether you are listing prior experiences or sharing any other information, do not be boastful. Arrogance is considered insulting as humility is an inherent quality in the Korean culture.
  • Show your interest. One of the main points of the interview is to test your loyalty to the company. The interviewer already knows your stats and history of experience, but he/she must be convinced that you are serious about working for that specific company.

Cultural aspects of working in South Korea

Culture and tradition are inbred into every aspect of South Korea, even in the economic aspect. Business should not be conducted afar from Korea’s long-held traditions. Among many, there are 3 key qualities that each person planning to do business in Korea should recognize and assimilate before going any further:

Your interview is like a test of your loyalty. Future employers want to know that you are in it for the long haul and know that they can depend on you. Be interested, alert, and know about the company to which you are applying.

There is no need to flaunt any past experiences or qualities you may possess. The company probably already recognizes your assets and arrogance can invalidate all those qualities. Be honest, yet humble.

As the interviewee, you are the “guest.” Be grateful for your opportunity to be at the interview and respect your “host” in all manners. Allow the host to control the meeting and be attentive.

Further reading

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