Firms struggle to come up with hiring plans

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Firms struggle to come up with hiring plans

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Six of the country’s 10 largest conglomerates, including Samsung, Hyundai, LG and Lotte, have not decided how many new recruits they will take in this year, a decision that’s usually made before the start of the year.

Positions at these companies, which hold major recruiting sessions twice a year, are among the most coveted by fresh university graduates in Korea. But ever since the government began investigating conglomerates a few months ago for a pay-to-play scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil, the companies have not had time to develop their business plans for 2017.

“In the current situation, it’s hard even to make a rough estimate of how many new employees we will hire this year,” said a manager at Samsung’s recruitment division. The source added that senior director appointments were also delayed, which held back establishment of this year’s business plans. The Hyundai Motor and Lotte groups also postponed appointing senior officials.

To make matters worse, the economic outlook for this year is not favorable, suggesting recruitment by major companies might not be much bigger than last year. Many are looking to cut or maintain their hiring pool.

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Job seekers register for the Busan Job Festival at Bexco in Busan on Nov. 9. [SONG BONG-GEUN]

Hyundai Motor, which took in 10,000 newbies last year, has no fixed plan yet, but possibilities are high that it will hire less this year. “Last year’s revenue wasn’t that great, and forecasts for this year’s car sales aren’t bright either, so the employment scale will decrease,” said a source at Hyundai Motor. The situation isn’t much different at affiliate Hyundai Heavy Industries, which has been going through restructuring since last year.

The only top-10 companies that have expressed intent to expand their hiring pool are Hanwha and GS. Hanwha said it would increase hiring by 30 percent from 5,140 last year to 6,700 this year. “We have several major projects coming up, including the construction of a resort complex on Geoje Island,” a Hanwha spokesman said. Posts open to college graduates, however, will stay the same from last year, at around 1,000.

GS is said to be pushing up hiring from 3,800 to 4,000. LG has not made up its mind yet on the scale of recruitment but has expressed intent to receive more newbies in the vehicle components sector. Hanjin will take in 1,050 new recruits this year, 500 more than last year.

Overall, companies plan to hire less. According to data compiled by the Ministry of Employment and Labor in October, the number of new recruits that the 300 most popular companies plan to hire through this year’s first quarter shrank 8.8 percent.

Banks are also slow in setting recruitment plans this year. Industry insiders say banks won’t be hiring more this year as the industry trend lately has been reducing the number of branches.

Forecasts for public financial institutions are better: eight of them will be hiring 830 people this year, according to plans released by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance. That is an increase from last year of more than 10 percent. The Industrial Bank of Korea will employ the most, at 457 people.


BY HAN AE-RAN, SUNG HWA-SUN [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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