Dear Non-Teaching Job Seekers in Korea,
At first, it was simply a game of chance. I sent my resume to almost every job recruitment posted online. One week later, some companies read my letter a couple of times in a day, some sent a computer-generated mail acknowledging my application, and a number ignored me.
Of course, I was baffled. I had all these degrees, these working experiences, these internships – yet, I couldn’t even get one job. Overqualified? Under-qualified? Not native? What was wrong?
I decided not to follow the rules. I decided to stand-out. I decided to make my resume full of vigor and color. I ignored Dotum, Calibri, and Han fonts. I scrapped the long list of my so-called achievements. I’ve meticulously picked my weapons well and it was time to enter the battlefield once more.
Again, I sent my resumé to almost every job recruitment posted online.
Two weeks later, I have been receiving invitations for job interviews from different companies. I tell you, those invitations were a confidence-booster. Companies wanted me! They want my knowledge, my talents, and my skills!
Or so I thought.
I accepted the very first company that responded to my e-mail. The poster says Content Creator / Web Marketing. Two months probation – which meant 1 million salary per month and will increase to 2 million after. No severance. Korean language not necessary. No insurance. No mention of leave or overtime. No tax. And you get to travel around Korea! This is easy, after two months I’d easily adjust in Seoul. I would be able to afford a Korean tutor and will still have some money left for my piggy bank. Once I’m fluent in Korean after six months, I may be ready to face bigger companies.
Three weeks later, I got fired. Through text. And believe me, I was not even sad!
My first day working for that company wasn’t even facebook status-worthy. The “boss” shouted at one worker and was telling him, “Have you just been sitting all day!? Am I paying you for nothing!?” Poor kid, I knew he did a lot because he had presented a very good web design.
One day, the boss had to interview an African for software programming. After the interview, the boss approached me and my colleague and exclaimed “Did you see how nervous he was? He was sweating so bad and it was so funny because he is so black but his handkerchief is so white!”
Good Lord! Why am I still even here?
I was certain to get a different job as soon as possible. You see, it was a Friday that they fired me. A day before that, I asked permission through e-mail asking them if I could work overtime on Friday because I might arrive late. It was a request that they could easily reject – but they chose to instantly fire me!
It was crazy because I was fired while I was on my way to a job interview. I had jitters during the interview because apart from being unexpectedly a panel interview, I had no office to return to later that day. Fortunately, that company hired me on Monday. It is a government-owned company and I am definitely sure that my skills will not only be put to use here but it will also enhance me to become a better person for the job!
That is my story, dear friend. The main reason why I am so inspired to write this letter is because I don’t want any of you to repeat my stupid mistake.
I want you to know that no matter how difficult the job-hunting may be, leave some pride for yourself. I realized that job-seeking is not all about the resume and the cover letter, it’s a lesson on choosing your battles well.
Do not fall to any of these easy jobs (unless you are prepared to throw away tons of time and money) – challenge yourself a little. Send that resume where it should belong! Put that degree to use! Make a list of companies where you would like to work – check their homepage, check their career section, and even if they have no job openings, still e-mail them expressing how you want to be a part of their company, what are your expertise, and how you can contribute to them and then attached, of course, your resume.
Before accepting any job, listen to what your friends or other people have got to say about that company. It was also my fault to ignore their warnings. “That place is notorious!” they said; however, I was the kind of person who gives everyone a chance – maybe it is not their fault, maybe that person was not doing his task that’s why he was punished, maybe, and just maybe, I could change their mind. But I was wrong.
If a company is not willing to sponsor your visa, be very cautious about it. Why aren’t they willing to acknowledge you as their worker – I don’t really know, perhaps avoiding Tax?
Internships are good but is is better if they are open to absorb you in the company afterwards.
Be highly informed about the latest minimum wage (5,580 won), the appropriate visa, and the job contract. If the company fails to provide you any of these, you are on your own to any battles later – and I am definitely sure that it won’t be easy.
So, start sending your resumes and cover letters now – and remember, choose your battles well. I will write about my interviews soon, so keep posted.
PS. Thank you so much for all the likes, the shares, and wonderful comments you gave me from my first letter. If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to write it down below 🙂
Install Sidekick by Hubspot in your computer if you want to track your e-mails — this is not for the faint heart. Haha! This application sometimes makes me happy, anxious, or sad, so, you’ve been warned 😉
This post is written from the perspective of a Korean Government Scholar (if that actually makes an impact) who just graduated from a Korean University with an M.A. degree. This is written in series as there is so much to consider and talk about the job-searching process here in Korea. So this is. already no. 2.