Job Search

Impressions

I am now trapped in a tight, borrowed business suit. My hair is tamed into a tidy ponytail. I ditched red lipstick in order to look modest. Such a stereotypical job interviewee. Anyone could tell what I am up to.

Today’s destination is a satellite city in Gyeonggi-do. The trip takes an hour and a half by subway from central Seoul. On the way I reread the cover letter I submitted to the company. There I diligently exposed my personal information, life story, even my parents’ employment status. At first I wondered why they needed it, but soon I quit raising the question over again. Almost every South Korean company asks for the same information.

I finally hop off the train and enter the corporate building only to encounter my doppelgängers — all dressed up in black jackets, white blouses and black skirts. Stunning homogeneity. It’s like a uniform for female job candidates.

After hours of waiting I finally get my turn, along with four other candidates. The interviewers don’t even bother to hide their boredom. Suddenly I don’t feel like wanting to work for them, but for the moment I just try my best to answer questions though they seem so irrelevant to job qualifications.

On my way home I keep thinking, ‘I’m so done with this.’ Am I being oversensitive? Yes, perhaps. I am only a job seeker.

But these formalities and routines I am supposed to follow: Are they all necessary? Or even just? I must not be the only one with the same question. The formal dress code, demands for private information and repetitive job interviews take time, expense and stress.

The prolonged deficit of job opportunities, coupled with the low growth rate, has created an atmosphere that one should be ready to give anything to get a desirable job. And some may say that I lack sincerity.

I am sincere in my career search. A job is important and necessary for my life. What I question is the unjust course of interaction between job seekers and companies as a reflection of unequal power relations.

Recruitment is an important affair to both job seeker and company. Sincerity and respect should be fundamental qualities for both.

Tae-In, 23, South Korean

KOREA EXPOSÉ Editorial Team