Global Recruiting Update: Korean Economy

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s post is courtesy of Joshua Ro with People Consulting Group in Seoul, Korea. People Consulting Group places senior executives in manufacturing, information technology, consumer products, banking and finance, telecommunications, logistics and distribution, professional services, entertainment, and fashion. Joshua serves as a member of the NPA Board of Directors.

In the midst of global business attention on Asia, it seems like Asian economies are doing relatively better than other regions of the world. I have been noticing people are eyeing Asia more than before for new global recruiting opportunities and to expand their market shares.

China was the strong business driver and the center of business opportunity in Asia and many parts of the world for a while covering most of the business sectors. However, due to the recent downturn of the global economy from the U.S. to the Euro zone, it definitely has affected Asian business markets.

Korea’s economy had been steadily driving the business in general and seemed promising in many different occupational and industry sectors. Starting at the end of 2011, economic forecasting has been somewhat negative due to several reasons:

  • U.S. and Euro zone financial crisis, which will affect trade activities
  • Banking and finance has been in decline, facing high risks both in corporate financing and the consumer sectors
  • Construction industry has been down due to the excessive supply over demand
  • Consumer and retail industries facing slower sales
  • Luxury industry side was booming, especially in the imported car industry where the general index  seemed positive, yet the new demands were mostly coming from younger generations using bank loans instead of cash for purchasing.

And surely from the beginning of 2012, slowly the Korea economy began to face a downturn which has impacted businesses in all sectors. Layoffs have been increasing and many large corporations are still undergoing restructuring processes. Global recruiting opportunities have been limited.

A few trends have been noticed during 2012 in Korea’s recruitment industry, which are:

  • Hiring activities have slowed down and no particular industry seemed promising
  • Hiring process has gotten longer
  • Downward pressure on commissions from clients
  • Client expectations have gotten much higher in candidates, yet the packages offered are limited

There are a few positive indicators. Large Korean conglomerate companies have grown their interest in green energy, wind energy, specialty chemicals and especially these days on the overseas power plant projects. Over the coming years, more demand for global recruitment for foreign professionals is expected. These professionals are in high demand and clients are ready to offer high and great packages. This demand is mostly being seen in very small niche sectors and industries, where it is extremely difficult to locate available candidates.

Many clients are opening up for the hiring of foreign professional talent in recent days. This is actually something that should have been seen a long time ago but has been slow to open up.

In 2013, we look for a turnaround in Korea’s economy which will create better global recruiting opportunities for clients and partners.

Interested in global recruiting? Download NPA’s free white paper, 7 Trends for Global Recruiting.

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