Blind recruitmentLEE KYONG-HEE
The author is the head of the Innovation Labof the JoongAng Ilbo.
Blind recruitment is a method of reviewing applicants based on job competency without considering their gender, race, age, physical condition, location, academic background or family relationship.
Until the 1970s, orchestras in the United States mostly had white male members. Once the blind auditions in which applicants play behind a screen was introduced, the proportion of female members in the top 5 orchestras in America rose from 5 percent in 1970 to 25 percent in the late 1990s.
While the blind recruitment in the West focuses on securing diversity in gender and race, the emphasis is on academic background in Korea. Democratic Party lawmaker Ko Min-jung announced on Facebook that she has prepared the Fair Recruitment at Public Agencies Act, essentially a blind recruitment act. Ko said, “I graduated from Kyunghee University’s Suwon campus, but I was able to come this far thanks to the blind recruitment when I joined KBS as a news anchor. The right to be fairly evaluated based on competency, rather than the name of the college, is still not protected by the law.”
In July 2017, the Moon Jae-in administration fully implemented blind recruitment at public agencies and local public corporations. Education Spring, a foundation campaigning for legislation of blind recruitment, states on its homepage, “It is highly likely that the blind recruitment policy at public agencies would be revoked if the administration changes. It is evident because the blind recruitment policy applied during the Roh Moo-hyun administration was repealed in the Lee Myung-bak administration.”
Board Chair Son Bong-ho and two co-presidents of the foundation led a campaign for a “world without worries about private education.” They believe that when skills and competency determine recruitment rather than academic background, competition during the college entrance exam will decrease and education will also be restructured to focus on competency.
The world is already changing. Leading companies like Microsoft, Kakao and NCSoft actively use blind recruitment. It is a way to hire competent people who can start work immediately.
Public agencies prioritize fairness and equity. According to research by the Korea Institute of Public Finance in 2020, blind recruitment enhanced fairness in recruitment. But jobseekers still have a burden as the National Competency Standards (NCS) written test is a decisive factor. Some college graduates, who got high scores on the test, take jobs for high school graduates.
Public corporations spend a lot of time and money on the recruitment process. As blind recruitment is not a universal tool, it needs to be strictly evaluated and reinforced.