Political scandal stalls companies’ recruitment plans

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Political scandal stalls companies’ recruitment plans

The ongoing investigation into alleged corruption between President Park Geun-hye and the nation’s major conglomerates has affected the companies’ routine entry-level recruitment that usually occurs in the first half of the year.

Big companies like Samsung and Hyundai Motor typically do two rounds of hiring every year, around March and September. The last round, in October, wrapped up in December.

But this year may be exceptional. Of the country’s top 10 conglomerates, only SK has officially said it was hiring. The company plans to take on 8,200 new employees this year, an increase of 100 from last year.

Hyundai Motor Group hinted it would take on as many new recruits as it did last year, about 10,000, but the company has made no official announcements.

Samsung, Korea’s largest conglomerate by market share, too, has yet to come up with a recruitment timeline or decided on the number of hires, let alone key business plans. One executive said details were not likely to come any time soon.

Samsung currently faces an investigation by special prosecutors for contributing to nonprofit foundations backing President Park’s initiatives and for providing sponsorship to Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of Park confidante Choi Soon-sil and a dressage athlete. In return, the company is suspected of receiving political favors.

Some analysts predict a small-scale reshuffle below the president level in March, after the special investigation is scheduled to end in late February at the earliest. A hiring plan could follow.

The repercussions from Samsung’s delay are huge. Many other conglomerates tend to follow in the footsteps of Samsung, and they also remain cautious about hiring.

A recent poll by the Ministry of Employment and Labor shows large companies plan to hire 8.8 percent fewer new people in the first half of this year compared to last year.

Some are even expected to shrink their recruitment, and others are opting to employ a small number by adjusting the hiring timeline.

A recent poll by job portal site Incruit of 918 large, medium-size and small firms that have fixed their recruiting plans for this year showed 50 percent of large companies are planning to employ new workers through both regular and nonscheduled processes. Among medium-sized companies, 43 percent are opting for both.

Incruit says companies are moving away from hiring in large biannual rounds to maximize efficiency in human resources management.

Hiring a small number of people with expertise only when there is a need for them allows companies to save on time and money. Companies that hire in bunches have realized that many recruits drop out halfway.

“Entry-level job seekers are advised to figure out which field they are good at and more proactively apply whenever a spot deemed fit for them pops up,” an Incruit spokeswoman said. She recommended job seekers check job websites and online recruitment boards run by their colleges.

Racked by a slow economy and frozen job market, the unemployment rate for young people aged 15 to 29 hit a record-high 9.8 percent last year. The figure is a 0.6 percentage point increase from a year earlier, according to Statistics Korea.


BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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