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Korean Companies’ Selection Criteria for Expat Professionals
Date : 2014-06-24

Korean Companies’ Selection Criteria for Expat Professionals

Angela Koh(Global Business Group Chief consultant)
Careercare Newsletter(June, 2014)

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-Hee praises the importance of talents, saying “A genius like Bill Gates creates wealth for 100,000 people.” Since 1997, Samsung Group has been hiring global talents from the world’s most prestigious MBA programs. A number of foreign executives working at Samsung Electronics is nearly 1,300, as of the end of 2013. Other Korean companies as well are busy scouting the global talents just like what Samsung does.

Last April Chairman Gu Bon-Mu of LG Group visited the Silicon Valley to participate in the LG recruiting fair targeting Master’s and Doctorate candidates in Science and Engineering. Hyundai Motor Group has also been holding ‘Global Top Talent Forum’ as Chairman Chung Mung-Gu is keen to acquire international talents. Park Yong-Man, the Chairman of DooSan Group goes abroad himself to interview the qualified MBA graduates.

The Korean government predicts that a demand for international talents would increase up to 33,354 in 2015 from 6,344 in 2010. What would be the selection criteria for Korean companies to hire foreign professionals?

First, one’s education. Since early 2000, Korean companies have held many recruitment fairs at some of the most prestigious universities in the world including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, UC Berkley, University of Michigan in the US; Oxford, Cambridge, University of London, Imperial College London, Aachen University in Europe; and Fudan and Jiao Tong in China.

Second, one’s experience. A survey was conducted to ask 589 Korean companies why they wish to hire global talents, and the result was: to enter the overseas market (37.6%), to develop new technologies and products (21.5%), and to learn advanced management system (13.3%). Korean companies prioritize candidates who either work at their competitors or globally well-known organizations. To attract right people, Korean companies therefore propose competitive packages to the candidates including high salary, nice accommodation, and full support for the child education.

Third, one’s loyalty. In Korea, if candidate’s resume shows too much of job change, companies are likely to consider that he or she lacks company loyalty and is less likely to make contribution. This is how Korea perceives candidates with frequent job change. In 2011, more than 25% of the expat professionals with “E9” visa - given to foreign professionals in Korea - left work within the first year of their employments. Only half of those who finished their first year agreed to extend their contracts. Considering the fact that it costs almost two million US dollars to hire one VP level of foreign executive, the investment effect on hiring those talents is something to think about.

Once all the selection criteria have been met, there is an interview process to follow. In many countries it is more common for candidates to get hired after an interview with an HR manager. However, in Korea, prospective employees have to be interviewed by both HR and managements, which can easily lead up to multiple interviews. Then there is another step to follow such as salary negotiation, executives meeting and health examination.

There have been some cases where nearly successful candidates drop their applications because of the complexity of the whole employment process in Korean companies. In order to prevent this situation, more search firms these days are getting specialized in expat recruitment. To that end, CareerCare also has its own Global Business Division that focuses on recruiting foreign professionals and executives. Consultants at the Division not only have been educated and lived abroad but have worked for Korean companies. And this can help minimize the gap of recruitment and employment culture between foreign candidates’ and Korean firms’.

The technology level and brand value of Korean enterprises are globally competitive. Hence, the demand for international talents is high. The Korean government expects that the demand for global talents could reach up to 30,000 people in 2015 but the actual employment size could only reach up to 10,000.The roles and responsibilities of the Global Business Division of CareerCare should be even greater to overcome gap between the two numbers.

Careercare is the largest recruiting and executive search firm in the Korean market for the last 15 years. It is time for us to make a new leap forward. With our three core values, ‘Respect People’, ‘Differentiate the Differences’, and ‘Social Responsibility’, we are giving more efforts to achieve the vision of ‘Advance through Talent’.



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