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Country ProfileProfessional Resources  |  Job Search Resources  |  Financial Considerations  |  Employment Trends
Resume/CV's  |  Information Technology  |  Interviewing Advice | Engineering  |  Work Permits   | Accounting & Finance  | 
Cultural Advice  |   Sales & Marketing  |    General Business

 

Country Profile
Korean history dates back almost 5,000 years. At one time, ethnic
Korean kingdoms stretched into Manchuria and Mongolia. After World
War II, the southern half of the Korean Peninsula became a republic,
and has had elected presidents since then. At the same time, the
northern part of the Peninsula installed a communist government.
Between 1950 and 1953, the period known as the Korean War, the
United States and other members of the United Nations defended
South Korea from attacks by North Korea.

Since an armistice was signed in 1953, South Korea has seen its
economy grow steadily. Just three decades ago, South Korea's per
capita GDP was on par with the poorest countries in Africa and Asia.
Today, its per capita GDP is seven times India's, thirteen times North
Korea's, and comparable to those of some of the economies of the
European Union. South Korea's success came through close ties
between government and business, evidenced by things such as
directed credit, import restrictions, sponsorship of certain industries,
and a strong labor effort.

Professional Resources
South Korea has two major trade union federations, the Korean
Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Federation of Trade
Unions (FKTU). The FKTU has close ties with the Korean government,
which supports trade unions at the enterprise level. New labor laws
have been introduced allowing more than one union to form and
operate at any work site beginning in 2002; under this law, official
recognition will be given to dissident unions.

Other professional organizations, associations, and unions in Korea
include the Korean Employers' Federation, the Korea International
Trade Association, and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion
Agency.

The Korea National Statistical Office has a website with a lot of
useful business-related information, including documents on the
consumer price index. The Korea Venture Business Association
provides venture capital information and job information for the IT
industry. The Korea Development Institute and the Korean Economic
Research Institute are economic think tanks.

Many Korean towns have chambers of commerce, and the American
Chamber of Commerce, which serves to encourage trade and
commerce between Korea and the U.S., is in Seoul. Major trade
publications include the AmCham Journal, published by the American
Chamber of Commerce, Business Korea, Economic Report, Korean
Business Review, and Korea Focus, to name only a few.

Foreigners could find very useful networking opportunities through
organizations such as the Seoul Club, the American Women's Club of
Korea, and the Korea International Trade Association.

Job Search Resources
Korea has bounced back quite well from the Asian financial crisis of
1997, and foreign money is flowing into the country. Much of it has
gone into the Korean stock market, and the influx of money has
directly resulted in more Korean jobs.

As in other countries, the most effective and common way to get a
job in Korea is through personal connections and recommendations.
Of course, this can make things a little more difficult for the foreigner
who doesn't have many contacts in Korea, but expatriates can still
have luck finding jobs through networking organizations, the Internet,
recruiting and staffing firms, governmental agencies and traditional
classified ads. And there's always the good old-fashioned
applying-to-companies-directly method; many companies in Korea list
job opportunities on their websites.

Perhaps the best way for a foreigner to begin finding a job in Korea is
by searching online job sites. One of the best are Asiacom Jobs
Center, Dream Search Inc., and MegaJobs - South Korea, which offer
a job database and resume posting services, along with job search tip
and interviewing advice. There's also the website of the ROK's
Ministry of Labor, which provides a lot of career-related information
and has a new resume database that can be accessed by employers
and potential employees.

Some of Korea's recruiting and staffing firms include ANS Inc.,
VenturePeople, and Brain 202. Many Korean newspapers publish job
advertisements, including The Korea Herald, which is the national
English-language paper.

Financial Considerations
Seoul is generally considered one of the world's most expensive
cities. Western expatriates may find it particularly expensive if they
insist on buying the products and services they grew accustomed to
in the west--they'll pay a premium for such imports.

Employers customarily give their employees a bonus equal to one to
six months' salary; this may be paid annually or periodically through
the year. They also commonly provide lunches for employees, and
many also provide commuter services. Other possible benefits include
housing allowances or loans and cash gifts at weddings and funerals.

Many expatriates live in the modern housing complexes in Seoul,
many of which are under guard 24 hours a day. Each complex is
self-sufficient, housing within its walls convenience and grocery
stores. However, there are other types of housing in Seoul, such as
houses and villas, town houses, apartments, and studios.

The maximum legal work week in Korea is 44 hours, with overtime pay
when necessary. Each week, employees are legally entitled to a
24-hour rest period. Employees earn one paid vacation day each
month, plus ten days after one year with perfect attendance.

Foreigners are considered residents after living in Korea for longer
than one year. In fact, they're usually considered residents upon
arrival if they're taking a job that will require them to live there for at
least a year.

Employment Trends
After the 1997 Asian financial crisis, Korea experienced massive
layoffs. It has recovered since then, though, and the unemployment
rate recently fell below 4 percent for the first time since December
1997. This is partly thanks to the IMF's $58 billion U.S. bailout and
the economic restructuring of Korea's conglomerates, all of which
have promised to restructure by the end of 2001.

Some of the professionals in high demand in Korea right now include
stock-market analysts, recovery specialists, insurance specialists,
computer graphics specialists, Microsoft-certified engineers,
Sun-certified JAVA developers, systems and database administrators,
urban engineers, CAD and CAM specialists, copyright specialists,
database specialists, foreign market researchers, project managers,
and outsourcing specialists.

Resume/CV's
For Koreans, there is a standard application form expected by Korean
firms. For non-natives, there is no required resume format, but you
should include the following information.

At the top, give your name, address, contact information, date of
birth, nationality, and marital status and, if you are Korean, your
resident number.

If you are a new graduate, or have little work experience, give your
education credentials in the next section. If you are more
experienced, these come after your employment history. In reverse
chronological order, list all schools attended (including high school),
with names, locations, dates of attendance, areas of study and
diplomas and degrees. Also, list: additional professional courses,
internships, and travel; foreign language, computer, and other skills;
and honors/awards.

List your jobs in reverse chronological order, giving the names and
locations of firms, dates of employment, and your job title and
responsibilities. Also, mention temporary or part-time employment.
Omit gaps.

In the last section of your resume, list (if relevant): job-related
accomplishments; knowledge of skills gained; professional affiliations;
and military and volunteer service.

You should send your resume with a one-page cover letter, and
include a photo, but not letters of reference.

Information Technology
The information technology sector in South Korea has strong ties
with e-business and digital communication, two areas that were hit
hard by both the Asian financial crisis and the tech stock market
crash of 2000. Even so, many experts expect most IT-related
spending to be in e-business, and the IT industry should show a
steady growth rate for the next ten years. The best IT opportunities
in Korea are for web designers and programmers, network system
specialists and analysts, and database administrators. For Web
designers, 3-D skills are important: there's currently a shortage of
skilled 3-D designers in Korea.

For most Korean IT jobs, you'll need a college degree, but for
experienced network designers and analysts, work experience is more
important. Web programmers are also in demand, and they're not
required to have a university degree, but a certificate and portfolio
can be helpful. Network systems specialists will also have better
job-market success if they're certified.

Some of the professional associations for IT workers in Korea include
the Korea Information & Communication Technicians' Association and
the Korea Information and Contractors Association. The Korean
Federation of Information and Communications Trade Unions and the
Korea Telecom Trade Union represent workers in these industries.

Two of the most popular trade magazines for Korean IT professionals
are IT Technology Trends and Information and Communication.

Interviewing Advice
Typically, the cultures and processes of Korean and Western
companies are very different; foreign-invested companies with
Western management in Korea try to combine them both.

Before your interview, research the company to ensure that you
understand their operation, their present focus, and their needs.
Then assess yourself, your education and experience, to see what
you can contribute to them.

For the meeting, be on time. Allow for traffic jams or bad weather.
Dress conservatively. Men usually dark suits, light-colored shirts
and
subdued ties. Women dress modestly and usually wear suits. Bright
colors and sleeveless blouses are not acceptable.
Do not simply leave your business card on the table; present it
directly, with both hands, to the recipient.

In spite of many other changes, Confucian ethics still dominate the
culture. There is great respect for age, for parents, and for the
employer; however, in the last decade, hierarchy by ability has been
slowly replacing hierarchy by age. In any case, be respectful. Be
natural, and modest about your accomplishments; answer questions
directly, do not brag-and speak slowly and distinctly, whether in
Korean or in English.

Engineering
Two of the three top industries of Korea's future, according to
experts, biotechnology and nanotechnology (the third is information
technology) require engineers to succeed. Both industries are
actively seeking experienced workers.

Engineers in South Korea usually have at least an undergraduate
degree. Experienced workers are in especially high demand because
many companies have been forced to eliminate their training
programs. There are no official licensing qualifications for foreign
engineers wishing to work in South Korea; the potential employer is
solely responsible for assessing the qualifications of each candidate.

Korean engineers have several professional associations, such as the
Korean Council of Consulting Engineers, the Korean Society of
Mechanical Engineers, and the National Academy of Engineering of
Korea. There are no specific unions for engineers in Korea, but many
companies have their own labor unions, and engineers may belong to
these.

Korean periodicals covering engineering issues include the Korean
Institute of Electrical Engineers' publication, the Journal of the KSME,
and the Korean Journal of Chemical Engineering.


Work Permits
The application process for Korean business and employment visas is
fairly straightforward, but the rules surrounding it are strict. For
stays up to 30 days, visas are not required. For longer stays,
foreigners must obtain visas beforehand from the Korean diplomatic
mission in their home country.

Only companies that employ international workers can issue work
permits, and expatriates intending to work in the ROK must arrive
with permit in hand. Documentation required for a visa application
can vary from company to company. Anyone who begins work
without the appropriate permit is subject to arrest, possible
confinement, costly fines, and deportation.

Accounting & Finance
Before the Asian financial crisis, most Asian financial markets enjoyed
high bank depository and high interest rates. Since then, the South
Korean government has begun to break the conglomerates' hold over
the financial sector. Since the recession, Korea's operating cash flow
has increased by 4.4 percent, a good sign that the finance and
accounting industries are recovering nicely.

Investment analysts and corporate financial advisors and
accountants need to hold university degrees. For most jobs in
finance and accounting, employers look for workers with at least
three years of experience. There are no licensing or certification
requirements in the finance sector, but accountants are required to
have CPA certificates.

The National Academy of Engineering of Korea (NAEK) provides
research and technology policy consultation including educational
support. NAEK also publishes newsletters. A few of the Korean
finance-related publications are Finance Focus, Mae-II Economy
News, and Naeway Net News.

Cultural Advice
Koreans are quite modest, and while they know that foreigners may
behave differently from them, they still expect expatriates to be
polite and humble and show interest and respect for Korean
traditions.

Business dress in Korea is conservative, with dark, formal suits the
norm for both men and women. Women may also wear dresses, but
bright colors and sleeveless tops are not acceptable.

South Korean business hierarchies are vertical. An employee is
expected to be loyal to his superior and company in all matters.
Decisions are made from the top down and are universally upheld by
employees. This paternalistic style of management stems from a
tradition of family-run businesses. Trusting relationships take a while
to build in this environment, but once they're in place, they tend to
last a long time.

Koreans use very few hand gestures. When meeting for the first
time, it is customary to nod, bow, or shake hands. When shaking
hands, you may grasp your colleague's right arm with your left hand
as a sign of respect. Typically, the junior person will initiate the bow;
the senior person will initiate the handshake.

Saving face is very important in South Korean business culture. It is
important to always remain cool and never seem upset; otherwise,
one appears to have lost control of his emotions and in danger of
losing face. Koreans have a great reluctance to say "no," and will
sometimes say "yes" when they don't mean it because they think it is
expected.


Sales & Marketing
Employers usually require sales and marketing professionals to hold
university degrees, and those who have degrees in marketing or
MBAs are the most sought after. In the IT and high-tech industries,
sales and marketing personnel need a marketing degree and more
than a year of experience. There is no certification or licensing
requirement for sales and marketing.

The Korean Advertisers Association is Korea's biggest professional
organization for advertisers. Its website has news and job
information and is available in English. The Federation of Korean
Industries publishes an online periodical that could be of use to those
interested in Korean sales and marketing jobs. Another good resource
is the Hyundai Research Institute, one of Korea's most credible
sources of information.

General Business
The businesses that most often hire professional managers and
consultants are those that require customer data analysis. Since
customer relationship management, or CRM, is becoming a major
concern for many companies, good customer data collection and the
lack of professionals qualified to analyze it is becoming a concern in
Korea. This means a great deal of opportunity for those with
experience and knowledge in this area.

Anyone who wants to work in the general business sector in Korea
will need a college degree, and those with MBAs or degrees in
marketing will have the best success on the job market. Foreign
candidates, in general, need work experience as well as a university
education. There is no certification or licensing requirement for
workers in general business.

A good Korean general business periodical is the KCCI Business
Journal, published by the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
It covers the Korean economy, industry trends, and other information
intended to help foreigners do business in and with Korea. Other
useful business resources are the Han Hwa Economy Research
Institute and the Center for Free Enterprise.



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Country Career Guides Table of Contents

I. COUNTRY PROFILE

II. JOB-SEARCH RESOURCES
1.Online Job Sites
2.Government-Sponsored Employment Offices
3.Job Fairs/Career Events
4.Staffing Agencies/Temporary Help Firms
5.Newspapers that Publish Job Advertisements
6.Other Resources

III. EMPLOYMENT TRENDS AND OPPORTUNITIES

General Trends
Information Technology

1. Certification/Education Requirements
2. Organizations/Trade Associations
3. Publications
4. Other Resources
Engineering
1. Certification/Education Requirements
2. Organizations/Trade Associations
3. Publications
4. Other Resources
Accounting and Finance
1. Certification/Education Requirements
2. Organizations/Trade Associations
3. Publications
4. Other Resources
Sales and Marketing
1. Certification/Education Requirements
2. Organizations/Trade Associations
3. Publications
4. Other Resources
General Business
1. Certification/Education Requirements
2. Organizations/Trade Associations
3. Publications
4. Other Resources

IV. PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES
1.Business Organizations/Trade Councils
2.Chambers of Commerce
3.Telephone Directories
4.Publications
5.Other Resources

VI. FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS ( Cost of living, salaries, health insurance, taxes, vacation/leave, benefits, etc)

VII. WORK PERMITS/VISAS

VIII. JOB APPLICATION GUIDELINES
1.Cover Letter Guidelines and Sample
2.Resume/CV Guidelines and Samples

IX. INTERVIEWING ADVICE

X. CULTURAL ADVICE

XI. COUNTRY RESOURCE BOOKS