South Korean President Moon Jae-in has announced the implementation of the “blind” hiring system to all public sectors starting in July, in an effort to promote equality in employment procedures. He also showed his hopes that the new regulation be expanded to private sectors as well. The Moon administration has called for such a system in order to eliminate hiring discrimination in a society where connections based on school and hometown may mean more than it should. In the Korean job market, it has been common for employers to question applicants about possible discriminatory factors such as age, gender, physical information and even marital status.
The new system will serve as a device that guarantees fair opportunity for employment and breaks down academic cliques. Unlike the past, the new resume will not require a photo, academic background or other personal information unrelated to the job. It will focus more on evaluating candidates’ job experiences and relevant qualifications. The majority seems to welcome the new regulation that solves many existing prejudices.
The policy, however, gives the impression that it was too hastily made, no matter how good its intention is. The government made a huge shift in policy that could possibly change Korean society’s paradigm in a single day without any public discussion. It would be difficult to form a social consensus if the administration just hurries to pursue justifications without any specific plans in hand.
The regulation is already facing harsh skepticisms. Many job seekers educated in prestigious universities have angrily asked why they should hide their school and high GPA since such factors reflect the result of their efforts. Moreover, President Moon has declared he would apply quota systems, which would require that 30 percent of new hires be from regions outside of the capital area and 5 percent must be young adults. It is contradictory that both give chances to local talent and young people and adopt a blind employment system at the same time.
Ambiguous recruitment standards can cause greater inequality rather than overcoming academic thresholds. If the criteria of the applications are vague, the difficulty of the written test will increase immediately and the interview screening process will become more complicated. It will cause chaos for both employers and employees, as firms have to spend more of their budgets on recruitment and job seekers will have to seek out countless experiences for their resumes to be qualified.
Equality and justice are precious values. Nonetheless, if the value’s efficiency is too low, we need to spend greater time to think again. The answer to all these problems is to improve the blind hiring system. It should not merely remain as a populist policy, but be a cornerstone of fair competition centered on ability and skills in Korean society.