Friday, 8 November 2013

How to prepare a Korean resume Part 3 - The Self Introduction

The final part in my series on the Korean resume focuses on arguably the hardest section which normally takes hours if not days to prepare~ the dreaded self-introduction. 

This section is usually attached after the CV section which is the opposite for those of us in the western world where our CV comes second to the Cover Letter. However unlike the common cover letter a Korean self introduction often has predetermined sections and statements (which can make writing them just slightly easier). What is good about preparing a self introduction is that it practically doubles as your interview script as most of the questions asked in a common interview can be covered in the self introduction.

All Korean companies whether they ask for email resumes or maintain their own application system will require the self introduction with some questions changing from company to company. This section of the application has come under scrutiny recently and has been the subject of some controversy. The reason being that many large companies when refining potential candidates usually employ a set of standards to help filter the mass amount of applications. The larger more popular Korean companies literally are receiving thousands of applicants for only a handful of graduate positions. Even my previous company which is a medium sized corporation would receive in excess of 3000 applications for 10-15 graduate positions. Now when we take that into perspective; that's over 3000 sets of data which need to be reviewed and refined to around 100 potential candidates. This activity is probably (at best) handled by 2 junior members of a HR team (Most HR juniors start in recruitment) and this sorting is expected to be completed in roughly 2 weeks! Obviously there is no chance of getting through all 3000 applications so HR staff use a set of criteria which they apply to the application data they have received via the online application process. Typical sorting criteria include filtering GPA of above 3.5; filtering of top 20 schools and even filtering age! (Yikes)

OK so what's my point? where is the controversy? This open secret of the HR world hit Korean media outlets about a year or so ago and uproar ensued! The self introduction section which students poured hours and days into preparing were not even being READ! Good luck reading 3000 of those! but you can imagine the disillusionment of students. A lot of people can identify themselves as not always being the best academically or lacking experience and often rely on the cover letter section to help tell their story; to help describe their journey and give them a fighting chance of employment! This then prompted some well profiled companies to buck the trend with Korea Telecom and SK Telecom both announcing that they would this recruiting season only look at candidates self introductions and not so much as glance at their CV's (Giving hope to a generation of students with widely disregarded degrees from the so called 지방대s ( Country Universities ). Here is a link to a Korean article discussing KT and SK's recent recruitment strategies 

I digress and I will discuss more on this issue when I cover the entire recruitment process in a later post. For now let's get on to preparing our self introduction! This is now when you should ask that Korean friend who owes you! As for Korean language learners this is an excellent activity to practice your writing skills. 

The self introduction is usually divided into three sections with two questions each. Each question usually has a limit of half a page.

일반사항 General Section
The first section will focus on the "basics" and depending on the company you will most likely be asked a variation of the following questions.

성장과정 How did you grow up? 
When I first saw this question in most self introductions I was quite surprised. A cover letter normally focuses on our recent experience and maybe some personal details but in a Korean resume you are asked for a paragraph summary of your life story! Start as young as you want, cover your family members, achievements as a kid, activities during high school and anything you can think to brag about! Captain of the footy team? Head-boy or girl at high school? Worked a part time job to pay tuition? This is the section to sell yourself by giving a genuine overview of the key factors that have shaped the person you are today.  

장단점 Strengths and Weaknesses
Self explanatory this section. Try to identify two strengths and weaknesses each and highlight them with keywords at the top of the answer. Always choose weaknesses which can be reformed into strengths with the help of the company. You might hate yourself for being such a suck-up but its more often than not what recruiters like to read.

경력기술 Work Experience / Skills
Section dedicated to your work experience and skills.

경력 사항 Work Experience
Write here what you would have written on your English cover letter. Cover your most recent work experience and highlight a particular achievement. No work experience? no worries! sections can be left blank if they are not relevant to you.

봉사 활동 Volunteer Activities
Obviously not all applicants will have relevant if any work experience but it is generally expected that most Korean students have completed some form of volunteer activity. For the foreign graduate this is also a good opportunity to list your involvement in any university groups. For example I used this section to describe my role with the Korea Australia Alumni committee.

지원동기 및 입사 후 업무추진 계획 Motivation for Applying and Career/Job Role Plans
The final section asks two questions that you are likely to get in EVERY interview you will ever sit:

지원 동기 Motivation / Reason for Applying
Why do you want to work at this company! Lie through your teeth or be refreshingly honest just make sure it's believable. 

업무 계획 Job Plans / Career Plans
Make sure you delve into your career plans with the company in mind. Obviously as a young graduate you are likely to have goals that are not with the same company you start out with but it's never good to be open about this (even if everyone expects it). Do your research and make sure you understand the possible career path options at the company. Being ambitious and specific is better than being realistic and vague.

Once again here is the Gdrive link to the complete Korean CV template!

Good luck with preparing your self introductions!


  1. Hi Michael, I've just come across your blog while doing some research surrounding internship/job opportunities in Seoul and how to prepare my CV accordingly. This information was super helpful, thank you so much for sharing! I similarly dropped the ball on the Aus Embassy internship, but also keeping an eye out for the next round of opportunities. Anyways, great blog, keep it up!



    1. Thanks Sharon,

      I have been super lazy in updating of late and also failed to cover a recent Austcham sundowner event held at the Australian embassy in Seoul which was in fact how I came about my first job opportunity in Korea.

      Would be great to know what kind of information you are after? I am always looking for topics to write about (even though I have around 10 blog topics backed up at the moment!)

  2. Hi Michael

    Although I am not Australian ( I am Singaporean ), I really appreciate your sharing and hope that with this as a head-start, I can have a better understanding of the Korean Market. Any advise for a guy who have 15 years of IT Management experiences and wish to work in the Korea?

    Thank you.


    1. Thanks for your comment. Hope that this information will be useful in your endeavors.

      Because you are a IT professional with over 15 years experience then language skills will not be as important. Companies most likely to hire foreigners will do so for the skills transfer. For your industry I am not particularly sure but Linkedin would be a good place to start if you have yet to set up an account. Sign up to some of the Korean IT groups and run a few job searches, also you will notice a lot of Korean headhunters on linkedin. Connect up and send them your resume, they may not message you back for weeks to months but it is one way to get unexpected opportunities. As for online content I remember checking out a while back, they are dedicated to IT startups in Seoul. Check out the site for any extra info!

  3. hi how should i fill the resume. should i write in english while keeping the korean template or should i write it in korean especially the self introduction part

  4. There are several types of communication used in the corporate world. If having to choose two most important types of communication in the corporate environment, I would say memos and letters would perfectly fit. See more letter writing service

  5. this is great, thank you! do you still have the template somewhere? the google doc link appears to be broken

  6. please update the link...this was extremely helpful

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