SEOUL, March 13 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s major conglomerates pushed back their hiring schedules due to the novel coronavirus, industry officials said Friday, amid concerns that they may scale down their employment plans in the first half of the year.
Samsung Group, South Korea’s largest conglomerate, said it is very likely to postpone its first-half hiring event that usually takes place in March. Industry officials said they expect Samsung’s recruitment process to be delayed a month.
Samsung and other big employers in the country usually hold two regular hiring events for college graduates — one in March and the other in September.
Last year, Samsung’s affiliates began hiring of new employees on March 11 and held the group’s admissions exam known as the Global Samsung Aptitude Test on April 19.
Samsung already has had postponed its software competency test, which evaluates coding and other programming skills of job seekers, until further notice.
SK Group said its first-half hiring will start from end-March, which is about three weeks later than the last year’s recruiting starting date. The company expects its aptitude test for new employees to take place in May.
LG Group also plans to push back its first-half hiring event to April. Last year, LG’s affiliates began their hiring process from end-February.
Hyundai Motor Group said it has told new recruits that their job interviews have been postponed.
While adjusting their hiring schedules, many companies said they will use video interviews with job seekers as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
South Korea has encouraged social distancing, a series of tactics designed to keep people from gathering in large crowds and holding in-person meetings.
In South Korea, the coronavirus has killed 67 people, mostly elderly patients with underlying illnesses, and infected nearly 8,000 others.
SK Innovation Co., South Korea’s top refiner, said all of its job interviews will be conducted online. Its job applicants will need to install a program for online interviews on their desktops or laptops.
Kakao Corp. and CJ Group said they will also use video interviews for job seekers, while LG Electronics Inc. said it has already carried out online job interviews for experienced workers.
Industry officials speculate that the number of jobs offered by big companies in the first half of the year may not be large compared to previous years.
According to a survey conducted by the Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) on South Korea’s top 500 firms by sales with a workforce of 300 or more, one-fourth of big firms in the country said they will scale down their hiring or have no plans for recruiting new employees in the first half.
Of the 126 companies that answered the survey, 19 percent said they will scale down their first-half hiring, while 8.8 percent said they will not hire a single employee.
The survey showed only 5.6 percent of the companies plan to expand their hiring in the first half, while 32.5 percent of them answered they have yet to finalize their first-half hiring plans.
“The survey was conducted between Feb. 2 and 19, which was before the country started to see nationwide spread of the novel coronavirus,” said Choo Kwang-ho, who leads the economy policy team at KERI.
“Considering the recent situation of the novel coronavirus in the country, the job market of big firms could be worse than what’s reported in the survey.”