Virus puts dent in recruitments by companies big, small

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Virus puts dent in recruitments by companies big, small

The spread of the coronavirus is throwing a wrench into big companies’ recruitments - and causing sleepless nights among job seekers.

None of the top 10 conglomerates including Samsung have finalized recruitment schedules for the first half of this year, and that’s a problem for 26-year-old job Kim Ji-hye, who’s looking for a job in the distribution or consulting sectors.

Whenever she logs into Dokchisa, one of the largest online forums for job seekers in Korea, or Jasoseol, an online platform to manage personal statements and resumes, she finds that companies are postponing recruitment events due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Job seekers usually play the field to improve their chances and apply to many companies,” Kim said. “But a lot of companies are delaying at the same time.”

Samsung Electronics has not decided when to hold the annual Global Samsung Aptitude Test, or GSAT, which it normally does in April. Its Software Capability Test that can give applicants additional points on applications was supposed to be held this Friday but has been postponed to next month.

The situation is similar for SK Group.

“The recruitment process for the first half of the year started around March 2 last year, but this year it will likely be delayed by two weeks,” an SK Group official said. “This is because universities have delayed the opening of the spring semester due to the impact of the new coronavirus.”

SK Group will reduce the number of recruitment fairs at universities and replace them with online sessions. Its written exam for applicants, which is usually held around the end of April, may be postponed or even replaced with some other evaluation method.

Lotte Group is also struggling to start its recruitment drive, which was originally planned to start early next month. Lotte Group decided internally to reduce its job fairs at universities, which were held at 24 universities last year. It also stopped offering counselling for job seekers at its Job Cafe. Instead, the company will focus on online services with recruitment-related information for each affiliate.

LG Group has not finalized its personnel schedule. LG Group usually holds training for people recruited in the fall and early in the year at the LG Leadership Academy in Icheon, Gyeonggi, every spring, which is temporarily postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

NH Nonghyup Bank and the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation have delayed the written exam date for new employees to Feb. 23. It was supposed to be held last Sunday.

NS Home Shopping postponed the announcement of candidates who passed the application review process. “The recruitment process has been temporarily postponed due to the outbreak of the coronavirus,” announced NS Home Shopping on its website.

Hanjin Group and GS EPS also postponed their recruiting. Likewise, Korail moved its written exam from March 21 to April 25 and interviews from mid-April to early June.

As recruitment schedules keep changing, complaints are flooding into job websites. Many people are concerned that the delays will also mean fewer jobs.

“I wanted to apply as a prospective graduate in the first half of this year before graduating in August, but now I’m worried I might lose that title before finding a job,” said 28-year-old job seeker Kim Seong-ho.

As with large companies, mid-sized and small companies are also postponing their hiring.

“I understand the companies’ position, but they should keep calm and carry on with their recruitment schedules and other business activities,” said Jung Kwang-ho, a professor at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Public Administration. “A contraction in business activities discourages economic activities and can lead to an economic downturn.”

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