So you found a great opportunity in Korea and now you need to know how to write a Korean resume in order to apply for the job. The job advertisement requires you to send a CV to a designated email and or apply online via their career portal – so what do you do? If you have some Korean skills then it makes sense to prepare and send a Korean resume.
A Korean resume is amazingly standard across almost all companies big and small in Korea. Formatting, font and the information required are set to a common standard. Most major corporations will use their own resume form when applicants are applying online via career portals however the format and questions on the resume are more than likely to be similar or identical to the format described below so it will help to have a Korean resume ready and prepared regardless of whether you are required to send it in.
So what does a Korean resume look like and why is it important?
In this post, we have made available here a basic template of a Korean CV which you can download and fill in with your own information. Remember this format is the common standard across all companies in Korea. You do not need to change anything nor feel bad about using the template – it’s not copying!
When applying for a job via email we recommend always sending in both an English resume and a Korean resume. The reasons being that an English resume will often be scanned by any foreign employees in the company; while the Korean CV will be used by the Korean HR and recruitment team to jot down your credentials in their own internal systems; this is also the version which is passed around to interviewers and to company directors. As you will notice by the style of the resume example below it is completely different to an English resume. A Korean resume wants the basic facts and only the facts. There is no room for embellishment or explanation nor does it require references. Where did you study? What did you study? What were your scores? Etc.
It is incredibly simple and can save you a bit of time and stress but the format is also highly discriminative and often HR teams will use their internal systems to automatically screen candidates by university, GPA and English scores. However, for most foreign positions you will not be subject to the same level of filtering.
So now we’ve explained why the Korean CV is important, let’s move onto how to fill it in correctly. We will be explaining in English but this information should be of course provided in Korean so if your skills are a bit rough then it’s time to ask a return favour for all that English editing you have provided for your Korean friends.
Personal information and education details
Above is what the first page top half on a Korean resume will generally look like. Sections like ‘hobby’ and ‘special comment’ on first glance seems a little weird and it really has no meaning but what it does do is give you a one-word chance to express your personality through one of your hobbies and/or mention something special about yourself. Say if you are a president of an organisation or you represent your country in some event or sport then you can put that down into the special comments section. If not then you can also just leave it blank. And yes you do need to supply a photo and also your age. A violation of employment discrimination acts in some countries but as the saying goes ’When in Rome’.
The Education details, unlike English resumes, will require you to list all of your schooling (down to at least High School). Most foreigners residing in Korea would have already noticed the emphasis placed on education and this is represented in the resume format. <Grade Average> will refer to the Korean GPA system of out of 5. For example 4.1/5; those from an American system should find it easy enough to convert their out of 4 averages but those from a British system of distinctions and percentages then that’s where it gets tough!
As an Australian there is no formula for converting our university scoring system over to the Korean GPA system; on top of that fact is that Australian grading is traditionally tougher, biased and non-standard across the country. For example, a 70% or over grade is considered a distinction and a decent score at many if not most Australian universities, but to a Korean recruiter’s eyes a 70% average looks like a 50% average – it’s rubbish. So what do you do? One option is to just average it out yourself and self-evaluate (But you will have to explain how you come about that score when they ask for a copy of your results). I averaged that a common distinction (D) is around 3.5~4/4.5 and a HD is somewhere around 4~4.5. Alternatively and probably your best course of action is to call your local embassy and refer to the education section; they should be able to help you convert your scores and also will be willing to vouch for that adjustment with recruiters. How do I know this? When I worked in the Australian embassy the education team would field calls regularly from complaining students and confused recruiters! So yes….it’s OK to call them!
Note: We have deleted the sections which ask for family information and health. It’s not relevant to a foreign applicant but just sympathise with the local applicants for a moment in that they have to list who their family is and where they work as well as declare any health issues.
Work experience and language ability
You would notice that there is not much room to describe your job role. In an English resume, you are often asked to go into brief detail as to what projects you worked on and what achievements you might have made at the company. NOT in Korea. All they want is the basic information about your role. For example – I was a HR generalist; I was a Salesman of ABC Product; Accounting of B Subsidiary; I was IT support. Recruiters will also ask for your mode of leaving your previous companies. Were you fired? Did you quit? Did the contract end? Or are you still currently employed?
Now for the language section; the three categories you can see is to express what level you are in that particular language. Left to right is (Expert; Intermediate; Beginner) then on the next table you will have to list down the proof (if any) that you have the claimed language ability. This is based on the Korean love of standardized testing of languages – The TOEIC’s; IELTS; HSK etc. If you have taken the TOPIK Korean test then list the details down here. If you are a native of a particular language then naturally no certification required – simply state you are a native speaker.
On closer inspection, there is not much information to cover on the second page of our Korean resume but what is needed is an explanation of the obvious missing section that is arguably the most important in an English CV – the references!
A Korean resume does not have a section for references nor will you at any point in the process be asked to provide contact details for one! Seems weird right? As it turns out it’s not that they don’t want to stalk your former life and find out all the dirty details, it’s just rather that this information is seemingly provided to them on the first page under your previous work experience. Rather than let you determine your own reference from your previous workplaces, Korean recruitment officers will directly contact one of your previous employers and speak with the recruitment officer there to find your line manager and proceed to ask the tough questions. This entire process could be terrifying for some – let’s face it, we don’t always leave previous jobs under mutual circumstances and not being able to dictate who you would like a new prospective employer to contact can leave the candidate feeling quite vulnerable! That said as non-Koreans most if not all of our previous work experience is overseas and not too many recruiters will make the extra effort to dial an overseas number.
Now if you are a student and you are graduating from a Korean university you may want to do the reverse of the reference situation and request a professor to contact the recruiter directly on your behalf. Sounds unorthodox, yes, but it will undoubtedly get your information into the recruiter’s line of vision – not too many foreigner applicants (if any) are going to have a professor call up the company and say a few kind words – could be what makes the difference. Not to mention that your professors are normally well connected and there are numerous opportunities to be found through that network – so before applying to any job ask your professor first because he may well, in fact, know someone of importance at that company. To be honest this type of personal networking is your best tool in finding employment.
Activities and Honours
I’ve noticed in some English resumes that this section is often left out; For a Korean, this section is often the place where they list activities such as if they have been overseas on exchange (which they almost all have) any volunteer work experience and any involvement with hobby groups or other organisations. This is where you can list information about any scholarships to study overseas, Chamber of Commerce membership; Alumni groups and any other ‘special’ achievements.
So with that all covered, all that’s left is the declaration under which you should type your name and stick on a digital signature and we are done!
With our Korean resume now complete, it is time to get our Korean writing skills in motion and begin preparing our 자기소개서 (Self Introduction) or rather cover letter.
More Asia Options Feature Articles on Building a Career in South Korea
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