Samsung shelves recruiting reforms

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Samsung shelves recruiting reforms

Less than two weeks after Samsung Group announced an overhaul in its recruitment methods to focus on the quality of its hires rather than standardized test scores, the company said yesterday it shelved the plan because it would be hard to achieve a “social consensus” on such a radical shift.

The new hiring system would have allowed the presidents of local universities to recommend talented students and let them skip an application screening process and directly take the Samsung Aptitude Test (SSAT), a special aptitude test to get into the country’s largest conglomerate.

This part of the plan backfired last week when the group informed each university of the number of students it would be allowed to recommend. After news spread that different schools got different “quotas,” criticism appeared online that the conglomerate was ranking Korea’s schools and discriminating by geographical region.

Universities given bigger quotas were located mostly in Seoul. All-female universities got conspicuously small quotas.

Sungkyunkwan University, for example, was told it could recommend 115 students to take the SSAT right away, while Seoul National University and Hanyang University could recommend 110 students each. Yonsei University and Korea University were given a quota of 100 students each. Chonnam National University could only recommend 40.

The Korean Council for University Education, an association representing four-year universities, said it was unhappy with Samsung Group’s decisions and promised to “deliver a correction request to Samsung” after gathering reactions from university presidents.

“We didn’t expect it, but controversy arose over our new system, that it ranks universities and discriminates by regions,” said Rhee In-yong, chief communications officer at Samsung Group, yesterday. “We decided that it would be difficult for us to earn a social consensus to implement the new system.

“This particular recruitment system of receiving recommendations from universities was introduced with the idea of having universities find and recommend [talented students] not based on [objective] specifications [like grades and certificates] but for their characters and their attitudes of self-sacrifice, which are elements difficult for us to find.”

Rhee told reporters the group will shelve all the new recruitment plans announced on Jan. 15, including additional screening procedures put into place to reduce the number of people qualified to take the SSAT.

Jobs at Samsung are the most coveted by corporate-career seekers in Korea, and many college students, including freshmen, have flocked to expensive cram schools that claim to be able to teach how to do well on the test. Wannabe Samsung employees have spent tens of millions of won studying for the SSAT and obsessing over high grade point averages, Toeic scores, contest awards and internships, all of which improved their chances in the past.

“We will continue to think about [various] improvements for our recruitment system because problems that triggered us the revised system still exists,” Rhee said.

The number of people who took the SSAT rose from 100,000 in 2011 to 130,000 in 2012 and 200,000 last year. Only 9,000 of them landed a job at Samsung Group and its affiliates in any of those three years.

Samsung is again scheduled to hire 9,000 new employees this year.


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