The best interview advice I received was to dress like you already work there. For the shipyard this is not so easy since we have a uniform so I would suggest a dark suit and a blue tie. Make sure your belt matches the colour of your shoes (ie, both black or both brown). Pocket squares are a nice touch, but go with the Don Draper, not the Roger Sterling (he does the crown thing; too flashy for this office).
And definitely not the Bill Murray
For women applying, 0.5 inch to 1.5 inch heels and business skirts (ie, down to your knee). Absolutely no frills on your blouse. The best way to be treated professionally is to dress and act professionally (and definitely no aegyo in the office). Natural colour stockings. The women in this office usually wear the blue Hyundai Trousers so a trouser suit may work to your advantage.
We’ve received a couple of résumés for my position. Some applicants have PR experience, some are fresh out of college. Most (so far at least) are already in Korea, though this shouldn’t really be a major selling point for the applicant as my soon-to-be former employer is a $40 billion company. If I were applying for this position here is what I would do (though this is fairly general advice so it can apply to any job you’ll apply for, dear reader).
1. Proofread your résumé
A no-brainer right? You know how if you say you’re “Proficient with MS Office” etc (don’t say this BTW as obviously you’d have to be for how else did you type your résumé?) but your résumé has those little red squiggles all over it? That means you are NOT PROFICIENT with MS Office. Or you’re lazy. Or both.
More importantly, not proofreading your résumé means you WILL miss some of your mistakes (this is also why it’s best to get a fresh pair of eyes on the résumé) and this is a detail oriented job that involves A LOT of proofreading.
2. Justify is your friend
We’ve asked applicants to submit a short essay on Corporate PR (more on that next). Again with this job being about attention to detail, you need to press the Justify button in MS Word. As someone “proficient with MS Office” you don’t need me to tell you where it is or what it does. Appearances are paramount.
3. Your Corporate PR essay
Basically, tell us how we can improve our Corporate PR. Be specific. Granted, there may be some apprehension that the company will steal your ideas (“schools” do this with sample lesson plans) but if your ideas are really that awesome then you’re a shoe-in for the job anyway.
4. Your Photo
In Korea one always submits a photo with the résumé. Going back to details, saying that you are aware of Korean mores but not submitting a résumé photo suggests that you are not aware of Korean mores. Or that you are supremely arrogant in thinking you can impose your own cultural mores on Korea. You know, when in Rome. This also means you will put your home address, your contact number, your email, your date of birth (older men tend to be paid more and are given more respect, as you should already know), and your marital status in your personal information section. Marital status may seem odd but I will guarantee they will ask you this at the interview. Typically the third question; if it’s the first question then the job is essentially yours to lose. The reason Korean companies ask for marital status is because they usually provide larger accommodation for married couples. If you have children that will live with you, Korean companies usually provide larger accommodation and possibly free or subsidised education.
5. Your email address
Another no-brainer. You know that email address you created when you were 15 (or 25, everyone is different; no judging) and you thought it was an awesome pun on your name? Yeah, don’t use that one on your résumé. Your résumé email should be nothing more than your name. If your name is super common then you can add your birthday (don’t worry, they’ll see the connection and the reason your email has numbers). No one wants to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If that’s your real name, blame your parents.
6. Your font selection
Obviously don’t choose Comic Sans. Also, don’t use bold for your whole résumé (but for sub-headings this is OK). We should all be aware that typing in bold usually gives the impression that you are shouting at the reader. Try to use the same font throughout the résumé. To stand out a little more than everyone else, try using Cambria or Georgia as these look very similar to Times New Roman but it is clear that you “went the extra mile” and changed the font from the default. Font size should be 10 or 11.
7. Your Korean language skills
Not nearly as important as you think, but they may set you apart. Though think about it, if Korean language skills were the most important factor, wouldn’t Korean companies choose from the millions of native speakers of Korean? Being able to understand the Korean text can be useful (Korean PR practitioners tend to favour translating the form rather than the essence of the message as it is far easier) but there are people whose job it is to translate texts for you to polish into acceptable English texts. Requesting the original Korean text for you to translate yourself is a serious faux pas (because the designated translator likely outranks you and has a TOEIC score of over 9000. Do you have a TOEIC score? Well, do you?). That being said, Korean language skills usually go hand-in-hand with cross-cultural communication. So the real question here is how well can you deal with living in Korea and especially living in what is essentially the Hyundai fiefdom that is Ulsan.
Right, the job is in the Ulsan office. Though Seoul is only about 2 hours away by KTX. Plus another hour to get to Ulsan’s KTX station. Busan is about an hour away by bus.
8. Your résumé layout
This will depend on your work experience. Directly below your personal details you can add a personal statement. This is basically a summary of your skills that hit the keywords from the job listing (kinda like a cover letter, but only one paragraph). You could also say why you are a good fit for the job. Another way of doing this is when you email your résumé for the job. That email is now your cover letter, except the first sentence will be something like “I’m very interested in the position for Chicken Sexer advertised in Chicken Sexers Monthly”. From there, the rest of the email is a regular cover letter (ie, no more than two paragraphs showing why you are a good fit for the job). The email ends with something like “Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to more information about the position”. And of course, “Yours sincerely”* followed by your email signature that includes all your contact details and relevant social networks.
If the job you are applying for is not your first, you need to lead with your work experience. This will include where your former employer was, what you did there, and how long you were there.
*Protip: Tailor your work duties at your former employer to what are likely to be the work duties at the job you are applying for. You can discover this by doing basic research on the role (though the job listing should already mention what they are looking for).
Work accomplishments and achievements usually follow your work experience but can come after your education. Either way, if you include them in your work duties then you clearly don’t understand the meaning of those words. This is also where you can provide some examples of your work (links are OK). You end your résumé with any charity work you may have done, other skills (such as languages, musical instruments, etc), and your references. In all, the whole résumé should be no more than two pages.
If this is your first job, you have no choice but to lead with your education. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. This just means you’ll have to work extra hard at the interview stage.
*Sign Yours faithfully when you don’t know the name of the recipient (ie, Dear Sir/Madam/Recruiting Team/ etc). I assume you’ve done the modicum of research required to apply for a job that you will at least know the name of your résumé’s recipient, and thus sign Yours sincerely.
And that is what I would do if I were applying for my job again. I didn’t mention it above, but knowing something about the company you are applying for is also super important. All it takes is looking at their website. And it helps if they can use you for their promo work, like here where I pretend to be an engineer and a shipowner. More here