Recruiters seek linguists that studied in Korea

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Recruiters seek linguists that studied in Korea

Foreign language skills will still help you stand out in Korea’s competitive job market, but what country you went to school in can make or break an application.

Foreign language skills are still an attractive point for local companies as seven among 10 said they have plans to hire such a workforce, according to survey results released Monday.

Job search website Job Korea and the Korea International Trade Association conducted a survey on human resource managers at 139 companies to find out how important fluency in a foreign language is when it comes to recruitment.

Among respondents, 56.1 percent said they have concrete plans to hire people with fluency in a foreign language among both college graduates and job seekers with prior work experience. Another 11.5 percent said they intend to recruit bilingual candidates, but have not decided on the timeline or budget for hiring. The remaining 32.4 percent said they have no plans to recruit employees with fluency in a foreign language in the near future.

On why they wanted to hire people with language skills, those who gave a positive answer cited the usefulness of a fluent language speaker as the No. 1 factor, at 52.1 percent. Second was being able to post those recruits overseas (35.1 percent), followed by an understanding of foreign markets (31.9 percent) and an openness to foreign cultures (17 percent). Multiple answers were allowed.

However, companies also signaled that even when recruiting foreign language speakers, they wanted candidates that are accustomed to Korean culture and can blend in well with their existing workforce.

Companies showed a preference for recruits who are fluent in a foreign language but were educated in Korea, at 87.2 percent, over those who graduated from foreign schools, at 37.2 percent. Multiple answers were allowed.

By country, China was the market that HR managers were most keen to hire foreign language speakers to help them break into, at 52.1 percent. The United States came next at 30.9 percent, followed by Japan at 29.8 percent.

As much as foreign language speakers are in demand, finding the right ones is still difficult - 47.5 percent of respondents said it was hard to find people that are good in both languages and the skills required for specific positions, while 41.7 percent said such candidates often look for a high salary. Multiple answers were allowed.

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