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Job Seeking in Korea and in America: How is it Different?

   According to a survey conducted by Trend Monitor, a Korean statistic website, 42.7% of the college students have sought for a job abroad. If you are one of those people, especially if you are a Korean seeking for a job in the US, you may want to read this post on my own experience of job seeking activities in both Korea and America.

  I, having only a year left in college, realized that there is no time to put off any more for the preparation to find a job. Last year, I decided to start looking for an internship position, applied for a few companies and succeed to get an offer from one of the companies. Now in the states, I am looking for an internship, expecting to experience and learn the way people work and make a business in the USA. My job-seeking experiences allowed me to perceive the difference in terms of the job/internship recruitment process in Korea and the US.

Applying for Job Positions

  One of the biggest differences is how people initiate the job achieving process. In Korea, there are two “official recruitment seasons” each year: spring and fall recruitment seasons. Throughout the periods, almost every company starts to recruit their new employs. Job seekers, both for internships and actual job positions, apply through each company’s official recruitment website. They fill out the application form online, usually consisted with yes or no questions and dropdown questions asking about personal information including educational backgrounds and computer or language proficiency certificates. It is also required for them to submit a 2000 words self-introduction essay.

  In America, however, the way it works is totally different. Applicants contact the companies via email, website or people. Job seekers are expected to ask about the job vacancies in person, or check the availability through the websites. In addition, in most of the cases, having a network with people who are currently working inside the industry is critical. Unlike Korea, where having a connection is considered as a cheating, knowing people is one of the good sources to get a job or an internship in America.

Instead of filling out the blanks for the questions provided by each company or submitting a long self-introduction essay, applicants are expected to bring a one-page long cover letter or a resume. There is no certain form required for the documents, which means that the applicants can choose what to include or exclude from the cover letter or the resume.

Expected Attitudes for Job Seekers

  Collectivism in Korea can be usually found in recruitment processes. The most important value of all in recruitments is the degree to which the applicant can be absorbed to their already-existing employees’ group. Therefore, it is important for the applicants to show that they are humble and even that they are not too excel then others if it is needed.

  On the other hand, Americans value ‘confidence’ very highly. They want to recruit someone who can confidently tell them what they can do for the company. On my first arrival here, I was frustrated by myself for not being able to list down the things that I excel at. Now, I have realized that what it means by ‘can do something’ does not mean that I can perform perfectly, or can do better than others can. Rather, it literally means that I can do it.

  What I learned from my experience on job seeking in the states is that it is necessary to have more autonomy. You need to step out of your comfort zone and be confident to initiate communication with the company. Most importantly, you are expected to talk to them in a confident manner.

Written by Soyi Lee

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