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July 2012

Korean Business Culture Insights: "Making the Most of Your Korean Business Cards"

The following snippet from one of my lectures in the KBC Professional Certification Program is now part of the ebook Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 

Purchase and download on Amazon.

7-26-2012 1-46-02 AM

 

From the lecture in Chapter 3 of Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea!

"Alright, so I’d like to jump into today’s lesson on business cards by pointing out that the Essential Handout for this module is the only ebook in existence (as far as I know) about nothing other than Korean business cards, entitled “The Definitive Guide to Business Cards in Korea”. In that book, I really give you the skinny on just about everything there is to know... after all, it says it’s “definitive” right there in the title.

"But actually, it’s still not complete. Since I wrote that book, my own business card thinking has evolved through two additional transformations!"

Get the rest of this article in Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 

"Here’s the thing about business cards in Korea. 

"I find that it’s often harder to explain to Koreans some of the things I’ve done than to show off a bit in the form of a mini-resume on the back of my card. Perhaps it’s that the language barrier is bigger when spoken, than when written, but I like to prime the discussion with a few facts about myself that will create a little interest.

"And since, as I explain in the textbook lesson, it’s common courtesy in Korea to actually review the business card that somebody gives you at the time of exchanging cards, I always get questions, and that gets us talking.

"But adding more stuff created a problem. With addresses, names and other information being written both in English and Korean, as well as some resume highlights, it soon became too much for one business card, until I thought of a new concept: the double-sized folded business card!

"Yup, here it is. 

"That was cool, but it was also pretty over the top, and Korean culture is such that a little feigned humility is appreciated -- even in business! As I was struggling for an answer about what to do, I came up with yet an even better approach which my friend Jinho suggested!

"I now carry two separate sets of business cards; one set for Koreans, and one set for non-Koreans. In addition to letting me get away without having everything in both languages on every card, each set has just the information I think the respective group will be more interested in.

"For example, Koreans don’t give a hoot that I’m a certified Korean translator or that I passed some Korean TOPIK exam at the top level that they could pass in their sleep. On the other hand, I find that Koreans are more interested in knowing that I graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington than non-Koreans, who often know that it’s a rathermid-level school.

"So, my point here is that since we know that business cards in Korea are a somewhat more respected business tool than back in the West, I encourage you to think through your approaches to them,and not just by creating two versions.

"Just as you should follow a few simple rules about business card exchanges (explained in the textbook portion of this module), so the business card can be a marketing tool in Korea in ways that are unique in Korea - and unique in ways that you can take advantage of it as a foreigner (remember how I said Korean business culture doesn't always work exactly the same with foreigners as amongst Koreans? We can get away with stuff.)

"So, how about you? Have you tried something that works with your business card? Share it with the class in the classroom, alright?

"Ah, and here are what my current cards look like.

"For more information on Korean job titles and business cards, be sure to read this article from Seoul Magazine: “Two Things to Remember about Korean Job Titles”.

"And I’ll also suggest that you read “Three Steps to Business Network Building in Korea”, another article for Seoul Magazine which is one of the extra reading links for this module. It explains that the business card exchange in Korea means “permission to contact” and why this is a vital key for business networking in Korea.

"So, am I keeping your attention through the lectures? I guess if you made it this far, you’re at least paying attention to the end. Give me some feedback though. What do you think so far?

"Share with the class in the Classroom."

 

7-26-2012 1-46-02 AM

 

Sign up today for the KBC Professional Certification Program to be more successful in your business and career in Korea.


Korean Business Culture Insights: "Shaking Hands, Bowing & Waving"

The following snippet from one of my lectures in the KBC Professional Certification Program is now part of the ebook Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 

Purchase and download on Amazon.

 

7-26-2012 1-46-02 AM

 

From the lecture in Chapter 2 of Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea!

"Another aspect of business greetings in Korea is the fact that men just don’t shake hands with women, and vice versa. Perhaps things are changing in certain business sectors, but overall, this rule of thumb applies. Once again though, drawing on the lessons from the previous lecture where I pointed out that the Korean cultural rules aren’t applied with foreigners in the same way as amongst Koreans, foreign women definitely find themselves the exception here, as foreign women visiting a Korean office are likely to find themselves shaking hands with the men."

Get the rest of this article in Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 


Korean Business Culture Insights: "Korean Business Greetings"

The following snippet from one of my lectures in the KBC Professional Certification Program is now part of the ebook Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 

Purchase and download on Amazon.

 

7-26-2012 1-46-02 AM

 

From the lecture in Chapter 2 of Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea!

"Of course, one of the first phrases we learn when we get to Korea is “anyeong haseyo” (안녕하세요). That’s an all-around greetings that works in a general way to say “Hello”. Don’t forget that it doesn’t work when answering the phone, or for “bye”, and that the version of “bye” that you use depends on whether you’re going or staying. Anyway, you can get all the details about this in a Korean phrasebook.

"What I really want to tell you about is..."

Get the rest of this article in Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 


Korean Business Culture Insights: "Tips on Hierarchy in Korean Companies"

The following snippet from one of my lectures in the KBC Professional Certification Program is now part of the ebook Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 

Purchase and download on Amazon.

 

7-26-2012 1-46-02 AM

 

From the lecture in Chapter 1 of Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea!

"I’d like to discuss hierarchy, which is the topic of the additional required study material for this lesson, the executive report “Succeed in Korea by Understanding Company Hierarchy”

"What I want to say here is this: Rank trumps age when it comes to business authority; however, it only usually trumps age when it comes to the level of speech Koreans use with each other." 

Get the rest of this article in Korean Business Etiquette Guide: Take an Essential Step Toward Your Business Goals in Korea! 


Q & A About Getting a Job in a Korean Company

KBC Intern Jared Muloonga is preparing a series of interviews with people "in-the-know" about getting a job in Korea as a foreigner. This will become a major feature on KBC soon in order to help our members who are looking for information about this.

In advance of that, Jared ran his questions by me and, while I'm not necessarily "the expert" on this topic, I have done my best to answer his questions so that he can have an idea of what to expect in the actual interview series.

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1. Does GPA / great academic results matter when applying for a job in Korea? 

A decent GPA is good, but what will really catch the eye of a Korean company would be a famous university. Since there is such a strong ranking system of universities in Korea, Koreans also apply their best understanding to rank international universities, also. Thus, rather than pointing out how great your grades were, that effort would be better spent explaining why your university was a good one.

2. Korea is big on ‘Woori’ so when hiring an individual, does personality matter?  

I wouldn’t think that Koreans are looking for a particular “personality” type; but what they do want is people who will be able to fit in to the Korean workplace. Showing that you’ve made a special effort and will “follow the rules” when you get into a Korean company is most important. Becoming a KBC Certified Business Professional is a great way to show that you’ve made a unique investment in succeeding in a Korea-based position.

3. How does one get noticed or become visible to hiring managers in Korea? 

My answers to questions #1 and #2 mention two ways to get noticed (i.e. demonstrating prestigious educational achievement and showing an extra effort to fit in to the Korean workplace).

However, foreign job seekers don’t generally go through the regular hiring process for Korean companies. Applying for a regular entry-level job would certainly be noticed, but it’s unlikely that foreign candidates would be seriously considered for these jobs. Therefore, as a foreigner, you have both the advantage of standing out no matter what job you apply for and the disadvantage of needing to do more homework to find job openings. In addition, there may be opportunities to approach Korean companies and propose the creation of a position that you're uniquely suited for; this would take an extraordinary extra effort.

I also find that Koreans are not generally as reliant on email as we are back in the West. So there's a good chance that emails sent to hiring managers will get ignored (especially if the email is sent in English and the recruiter isn't comfortable in English).

In-person efforts are surely going to be more effective. For example, how many foreigners do you think just show up at companies asking to speak to the hiring manager about openings? The answer is probably "almost none". But the unusualness of such an effort means that with persistence, you should be able to get in and talk to people.

4. How does one utilize the network they gain wisely in order to gain a Job? 

Cultivating a business network in Korea is crucial, especially for foreign job seekers, because many job openings for non-Koreans are not published and can only be found out about through personal connections. For example, I got my job at LG back in 1994 because a fellow teacher at the institute where I worked was friends with the guy at LG who had been commissioned to find a foreigner for their office and the job was never publicly posted.

On-the-ground efforts that go beyond the ordinary should be the goal of every serious job seeker, and especially through an effort to properly build one's network.

5. How would a hiring manager look for potential candidates to hire?  

For positions to be filled by Koreans, the approach would be very systematic and based on a pre-established schedule. But for foreigner positions, things are much more haphazard and depend on whatever approach the hiring person chooses to take. My example of getting the job at LG is probably typical.

6. How would potential candidates use a resource like KBC in your opinion? 

KBC is a place for buildiing one's network, learning about Korean business (both through the Topic Central pages and the discussion) and earning a recognized certification (KBC Professional Certification Program), but it is not (yet) a destination for links to easy job openings. Serious candidates will have to go much further.

7.  What kind of resumes gets noticed in Korea? 

A resume written in English is unlikely to get read unless the person doing the hiring is very comfortable in English. Therefore, it almost seems a requirement to get your resume translated to Korean. Also, Koreans want to know certain things that aren't generally shared on Western resumes, such as age.

8. What can individuals expect to be asked when applying for a job in Korea? 

It depends, of course, on the job, but at an entry-level for a foreign candidate, the questions are likely to be a little silly. I think my questions at LG centered around whether I liked Korea and Korean food. Peppering one's answers with a few memorized Korean greetings and phrases will elicit a laugh, and impress your interviewers that you have made some effort. Be sure to explain that you're really serious about Korean business, as evidenced by your KBC Korean Business Professional Certification certificate.

9. What positions should individuals seek to apply to when they are trying to get into the Korean job market?

This one's tough.

It will be difficult to get a job based just on skills that Koreans are already strong in, such as IT, business and engineering. With the difficulty Korean entry-level job seekers are having getting jobs in their own country, there's little chance that a Korean company will hire a foreigner into a position unless they think that foreigner can bring them something that nobody in the Korean job pool can otherwise.

For individuals from English-speaking countries, positions that help Koreans improve their English and understanding of leading markets will be the most natural fit. For those without this advantage, the options become more limited. I would think that demonstrating your understanding of a market that Koreans are interested in and persuading them that you can help them break into that market (in your case, the area of southern Africa) would be a good starting point.

10. When individuals have little or no experience what can they include in their Resumes to show that they have the necessary skills to make up for the lack of work experience? 

Koreans are very big on internships these days, particularly internships in overseas markets. Your internship on KBC isn't exactly what Koreans will be looking for, but it will raise an eyebrow and add to your overall image as someone committed to Korean business. On the other hand, they will be more interested in work-experience in a market in which they are interested. For example, if you can demonstrate connections or internship experience in a southern African country that a particular Korean company is looking to do business in, then that would be an attention-getter.

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Introduction to the KBC Professional Certification Program

The following is an extract from the introduction to the Business Culture Fundamentals Specialization of the KBC Professional Certification Program. Visit Korea Business Central for more information on the program and to register and get certified.


7-26-2012 1-46-02 AM

"Thanks for signing up for the new KBC Professional Certification Program. You’ve taken an important step in moving your business and career forward in Korea. You’re also in good company, since we’ve had a fantastic member response so far!

"Starting out, I want to be sure you don’t overlook all the value we’ve built into the program. As I explained on KBC recently, there are five elements to the content/resources which you’re receiving from your investment (actually six, come to think of it!), and I encourage you utilize each to its fullest extent.

"The two basic elements include the main lesson (Element 1 - "The Textbook") and the supplementary required content that you'll need to know for the exam (Element 2 - "Essential Handouts").

"But that’s just the start, because each lesson also links to related and helpful optional content (Element 3 - "Extra Reading") and a discussion in which I invite you to share your experiences, questions, etc. (Element 4 - "The Classroom") Think of it as a place where we can all deepen our knowledge and understanding in a zone of free sharing.

"In addition, this email is the first of a series which I’m writing and will send to you over the next few weeks (Element 5 - "Lecture Supplements"). After this one, the main purpose of each email will be to discuss at a higher level and in a more conversational manner the nuances of various aspects of the seven learning modules. 

"As for the ultimate value you’ll get from passing the exam and becoming a Certified Korea Business Professional (Element 6 - "Graduation Certificate"), I’ll also be sharing my ideas and suggestions for how to make the most of this certification, and hopefully learning from you some ways that I hadn’t thought of yet. 

"My hope is not just to "talk at" you with one-way lectures, but that you’ll communicate back to our class of current and former studentsto both share insights and questions, and learn more in ways that allow us all to internalize the whole Korean business culture topic. I’m writing these as “the expert” but I know there’s still lots to learn and that we can 
improve together.

"So, let’s get started! Look for my first lecture soon."


7-26-2012 1-46-02 AM

Sign up today for the KBC Professional Certification Program to be more successful in your business and career in Korea.