With its mixture of beautiful coastlines, lush mountains, and cosmopolitan cities, South Korea is becoming an increasingly popular destinations for expats looking for their next international adventure. If you are one of the many people wondering how to get a job in South Korea as a foreigner, this guide will walk you through the steps you need to take to land the perfect gig in the Land of the Morning Calm.
How to Apply for a Job in South Korea
As with any international job hunt, one of the best ways to get a job in South Korea as a foreigner is by already being in the country. This way, you will not only be able to have in-person interviews, but employers will take you more seriously as an applicant. By being in the country, you demonstrate that you have already started to adapt to the culture and lifestyle, and perhaps have already started to learn the language.
If you are unable to move to Korea before finding a job, there are several online sites you can use:
In addition to these, you can also use usual job search sites such as LinkedIn and Craigslist.
While this may seem more ‘old school’ when compared to other countries, South Korean jobs are often still published in newspapers. Job postings can be found through the newspaper’s online website or printed in the physical paper. Good papers to checkout include:
- The Korea Herald
- The Korea Times
- The Seoul Times
Korea hosts annual job fairs that specifically targets foreigners. These job fairs will typically be split into two different categories: job fairs for international students and job fairs for international residents. To find the date of these fairs, you can search online for the following terms:
Although these fairs are for foreigners, it is best to come with printed copies of your CV and cover letter written in both English and Korean.
Requirements to Work in South Korea
To be eligible to work in South Korea you need a university degree. This degree should be in the same field as the job for which you are applying to. In addition, a knowledge of the Korean language is not necessarily mandatory, but it is highly advisable. It is possible to find jobs in Korean that do not require a knowledge of Korean, but employers will be more favorable to applicants who know Korean (and/or are interested in learning) as it will help them integrate with their coworkers and work culture more fully.
Tips for Landing a Job in South Korea
South Korea has a specific CV style that expats should adhere to while applying to jobs in the peninsular country. Like other neighboring countries such as Japan, South Korea has a distinct format in which resumes should be written. For the best results, it is advised to download a standard South Korean CV template and fill it in with the relevant information. Do not worry about being too uniform or like everyone else. When Korean HR teams sift through stacks of resumes, having a non-Korean style CV is more likely to hurt your chances rather than help them.
In general, the first page of a Korean style CV will contain your personal information such as your address, date of birth, cell phone number, and email. You will also see spots to write any hobbies you have or a special comment. These are the areas where you can personalize your CV and let your personality and interests come through.
When filling in the information about your education history, keep in mind that the South Korean grading system may be different from your home country. While a direct conversion may be difficult, use your best judgement to convert your GPA to the Korean equivalent.
When filling out your work history, you may note that the sections in the standard Korean CV template are very small. This is because Korean employers only expect to see a brief job description such as “I was an HR specialist” or “I was a software developer.”
A Note About References
One thing you may notice that is missing from a South Korean resume is a spot for required references. This is because this is not a requirement. Instead, Korean employers will contact a previous employer of their own choosing.
Cover Letter Tips
A cover letter in South Korea is also called a “self-introduction” letter (jagiseogaeseo/자기소개서). As with any cover letter, Korean recruiters will want to know more specific details about your work history and qualifications that make you the perfect candidate for the position to which you are applying. Keep in mind that Korean applicants typically also talk about their career growth, their education, personality, and why they want the job they are applying for.
When going in for an interview in Korea, you should arrive 10—15 minutes early. Have printed copies of your resume and cover letter, and, if possible, have them in both English and Korean.
It is traditional in Korea to bow instead of shaking hands when meeting someone. Do not try to shake the interviewer’s hand unless they initiate.
Be aware that the entire interview process could take a few weeks or even a few months. You may also be asked to submit a Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK) score.
As a foreigner, you will find yourself warmly welcomed in Korea. This will be a boon when it comes to networking as you will find many Korean nationals will be happy to speak with you. Receiving a business card is considered an “invitation to contact,” in Korea. If you receive a business card from someone, be sure to follow up with an email afterwards. Likewise, make sure to always carry business cards with you.
In addition to networking with Korean nationals, it is also a good idea to network with fellow expats as they will be the most familiar with what it’s like working in South Korea as a foreigner. InterNations has an active chapter in Seoul that would be a great starting point to building a professional in South Korea. Even if you are not moving to the capitol city, joining the online platform is a great way to get tips and advice from other expats living and working in the country.
Job Opportunities in South Korea for Foreigners
One of the greatest opportunities for expats wanting to live and work in South Korea is by teaching English. For starters, teaching English does not require extensive knowledge of Korean, and some schools even prefer for teachers to not be bilingual because they want their Korean students to be forced to learn and practice English. English proficiency is also a highly valued skill in Korea, making English teachers one of the more sought out professions.
In addition to teaching English, other sectors where expats will find a lot of opportunities are in IT, general office administration jobs, manufacturing, and careers related to health, science, research, and technology.