|▲ Does appearance really matter when getting a job?|
South Korea is facing its lowest employment rate in history. According to Statistics Korea, South Korea's employment rate is 60.2 percent, which means that after graduation, finding a job is harder than ever. Being as prepared as possible, with as many job-related assets that we can muster, is what graduates have to do these days, in order to ensure they become an active participant in our ever shrinking job market. Going the extra mile to get additional certificates and work related qualifications is considered normal, while going above and beyond your competition, undertaking drastic measures such as plastic surgery, is now the risk graduates are willing to take to land that coveted position. Companies secretly seek out employees that represent the image they wish to represent, while plastic surgeons work to promote the same message. Plastic surgery is a personal choice and may be a means of self-satisfaction, but it is wrong to do feel obligated to go under the knife, simply to fit an image of a targeted employer or industry.
In 2016, the Ministry of Employment and Labor of the Republic of Korea’s official twitter uploaded that 'What kind of applicants’ appearance do companies prefer when plastic surgery has become 7th thing to be prepared for achieving job?' This quote illustrates that appearance matters to an entire nation when applying for a job at a Korean company. And seven sets is one of Korean culture, attendants who wants to get a job have to prepare 7 standards. Of course, not all companies want this, but now Korean university students are preparing for seven classes because of the difficult employment situation and fierce competition. And the recruiting staff answered that they looked at applicants’ appearance. Under these circumstances, applicants are forced to choose plastic surgery. Nevertheless, there has not been much change so far. The recent appearance of a nine-point check list for job applications includes 1) academic background, 2) grades, 3) language scores, 4) language training experience, 5) certificates, 6) contest experience, 7) internship experience, 8) community service, and 9) appearance with or without plastic surgery. This mounting list has many standard applicants growing even more tired of the fight to land the perfect job. Capitalizing on their insecurities, plastic surgeons are promoting what they consider the ideal faces for top companies in their advertisements and cosmetic packages. Unfortunately, lots of applicants are falling prey to their aggressive campaigns because they are ready to do just about anything to get a good job.
As the controversy continues, companies have begun hiring blind testers to evaluate candidates inner factors rather than their superficial ones, but this too is being criticized. One employee from the human resource department at a large company confessed that the process was not actually blind and not all employees were hired through a blind test. In fact, it is almost impossible to avoid “seeing” someone throughout the multi leveled job interviews. According to a survey of 880 business personnel managers on the online job portal, "Saram-In" 63.8 % said they can see an applicants' appearance and more than 35% of them stated that they evaluated the candidate based on their appearances in order to determine whether they would be able to deal with the social relationships with co-workers very well. This implies that South Korea’s very high unemployment rate of the youth is being determined by whether or not they ‘look’ social enough to fit in.
|▲ Human resources officers often evaluate applicants ' appearance during the job interview. (photo by e-today)|
In order to eliminate the social phenomenon of undergoing plastic surgery in order to get a good job, it is essential that companies make efforts to change their hiring process. They need to make a real effort to valuing inner qualifications over appearance. In other words, companies are going to need to improve their employment standards if they continue to rely on physical appearance evaluations during job interviews. This can be addressed easily by introducing multifaceted interviews. For instance, there are some companies that conduct interviews in stages over a period of three days, rather than conducting one face-to-face interview. This structure allows the employers to see the various capabilities of the applicants how they perform in meetings etc. It is important to give applicants these types of fair opportunities to show what they’re capable of and any relevant results. Therefore, without focusing on appearance in a simple face-to-face interview fashion, evaluating applicants objectively on their abilities should take precedence. In addition, it is more reasonable for them to show their potential abilities related to certain job areas than to prepare for a job by forming an external part. Since, applicants take the weaker position than the recruiting department in companies does, a more reasonable recruiting process that can evaluate the real abilities of a candidate is needed to stop applicants from getting implicitly required plastic surgery.
A change in social awareness to build a more just recruitment system in South Korea has been brought to the attention of the public, but reality keeps on forcing applicants to add their appearances to the list of what they have to prepare for the job which is already filled with a lot of things. To resolve this problem, more proper company hiring standards are needed, which is impossible without changing the social perception of hiring based on appearance. A change in social perception can be built only when there are a lot of people recognizing the problem is a real and present danger to society. It may seem ideal or even impossible to trigger change, but we can, when we all are eager enough to do it.