Beyond the ‘specs’

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Beyond the ‘specs’

SK Group, Korea’s third largest conglomerate, has decided to not take into account the so-called specs - conventional requirements for college graduates to enter big companies - when it hires new employees in the first half of this year. The group says it’s taking the step to help young people cut down on cram schools and other costly ways of padding their resumes by not paying attention to foreign language proficiency, experiences overseas, awards won and job-related internships on college graduates’ job applications.

After the telecommunications giant’s decision, other chaebol are hopping on the bandwagon for their recruitments in 2015. We welcome the development in large companies given the abnormally fierce competition among college students to build better “specs” than rivals in the tough job market.

College students have spent excessive amount of money and energy to gain competitive edges over their peers. This inexorable rivalry over specs made the underprivileged feel a deep sense of frustration and alienation due to the fact that they could not afford to cover gargantuan costs to improve their resumes with things like experiences overseas. As a result, the corporate world has begun discussions to find effective ways of going beyond the allures of specs since last year and several companies announced plans to hire new employees based on their capabilities in the field regardless of their specs.

However, reality does not seem to reflect the corporate sector’s stated intentions. According to a recent survey by a job portal site, nearly half of job seekers were negative about such a change, as evidenced by their straightforward answers that no substantial improvement has been seen in the job market. Even after the specs were deleted from application forms, they had to confront a whole new challenge, as the document screening process is more focused on their letters of self-introduction. This is like taking one step forward and one step back. Cram schools offer coaching on how to write the letters of introduction, which, of course, costs money. Connections also help for the introduction letters. Thus, specs translate into “money needed,” and introduction letters translate into “personal connections.” Unless applicants have strong family backgrounds, they will have nothing to write in their self-introductions.

As job competition grows fiercer in a shrinking market, the way companies hire employees influences the culture of our society. Therefore, large companies’ approach to recruitment can help reduce overly heated competition among college graduates. Also, worries are growing over the job-related internships students pursue. To get them, personal connections play a big part. We urge our big companies to come up with efficient employment systems that judge applicants’ ability to do a job instead of their family background.

JoongAng Ilbo, Mar. 7, Page 30

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