Job seekers urged to focus on cover letters to land position

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Job seekers urged to focus on cover letters to land position

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Cover letters on job applications could be the key to landing one of thousands of jobs available at one of the nation’s conglomerates as the autumn hiring season gets into full swing.

Major conglomerates have recently rolled out plans to hire thousands of entry-level employees for the coming two seasons to meet the Park Geun-hye administration’s job creation initiative. This will create more positions at large conglomerates than small and midsize companies, experts say.

According to each of the nation’s 10 largest conglomerates, a total of about 17,700 entry-level positions will be available this fall at Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG, Lotte, Posco, Hyundai Heavy Industries, GS, Hanjin and Hanwha Group.

To land one of the many jobs, the Federation of Korean Industries is offering tips to young hopefuls. The advice is based on interviews with the human resources departments of each of the conglomerates and topics discussed at the recruitment events of the nation’s 11 largest companies.

This season, the most critical factor that will determine acceptance and rejection will be the cover letters and essays, experts say, instead of academic backgrounds and credentials.

Essays should be unique enough to stand out, as it is the only way for hiring staff to get the first impression of a candidate. This focuses the hirer on the candidate’s interests, actual skills and the efforts they made to gain the expertise.

The candidates’ focus should be on the essays because all the questions to be asked if a candidate lands an interview are made based on the cover letter or job essay.

For the autumn hiring season, Samsung Group relaunched a document screening process that includes a job aptitude essay with stronger emphasis on screening knowledge and experience that is relevant to the job position the candidate is seeking.

For the past two decades, Samsung has given opportunities to all applicants to take its job aptitude tests, which mostly assessed the candidate’s general skills such as agility and intelligence level. This season, however, the evaluation focus is on the candidates’ performance in the college major and non-curriculum activities related to the job position.

“The essay questions are identical for all candidates applying for all job positions,” said an employee at Samsung Group’s human relations department. “The essay will be assessed on both logic and the contents, particularly focused on the candidate’s experiences and knowledge about the job position.” Samsung is expected to hire 4,000 to 4,500 new staff this fall at 21 affiliates.

LG Group, which is expected to hire 2,100 newbies, is still planning to keep the traditional hiring process. Document processing comes first, followed by the job aptitude test and interviews.

However, the group has started putting heavier emphasis on the cover letter. Each LG affiliate asks different questions about why an individual applied to the particular affiliate and job position and what kind of relevant experiences they have about the industry and job. The cover letter should explain what specific contributions the candidate can offer after completely understanding how the corporation works and the position being sought.

“The core of the cover letter should be honesty and sincerity,” said a human resources worker at LG Group. “The candidates should express their own unique career principle and
capacity.”

Human resources officers at Posco advise job applicants to never put general and common experiences in the cover letter. They also emphasize that broad or comprehensive expressions should never be used.

SK Group, which said it will expand hiring up to 1,500, requests more practical information on cover letters to explain what each candidate would do when the company is facing business hardships or suggest innovative business ideas for each affiliate’s business area.

Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hanwha Group will each hire 500 and 600 new employees, respectively, with traditional values expected from applicants. The two companies said they look for candidates who can show dedication to the company and a strong will to challenge.

To put more emphasis on the essay, Hyundai Motor Group has expanded the number of questions asked, mostly about candidates’ thoughts on each job position and the company’s future. The company expects to hire about 4,000 newbies.


BY KIM JOON-SOOL, SOHN HAE-YONG AND KIM JI-YOON [kim.jiyoon@joongang.co.kr]




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