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One in 5 hopes to take the civil service exam

Jan 17,2019
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One in five Koreans considers taking the exam for civil service positions, according to survey results released Wednesday. It is even a popular choice for individuals already employed.

Job-search website Saramin asked 680 adults in the country whether they have plans to take the civil service exam, which can lead to employment at public offices or in public organizations. A total of 22.4 percent gave a positive answer. Of the 440 of those surveyed who were already employed, 22.7 percent said they plan to take the test.

The top reason for the popularity of civil service employment is stability.

Public servants in Korea cannot be fired before they reach the retirement age of 60. Nearly 79 percent said that is why they hoped for a job in the public sector. Eight-four percent of office workers cited stability of employment as the reason for their interest in the government positions.

Pensions were the No. 2 reason given. Forty-four percent of job seekers chose this answer, while among office workers, the answer received votes from 58 percent of those surveyed. Multiple answers were allowed.

Twenty-seven percent of job seekers said they would take the test because they felt they were too old for positions in the private sector. Public offices conduct “blind” job interviews, meaning they don’t count age in the hiring process.

Desire to serve the public received votes from 25 percent of those surveyed.

For a civil service job, only the results of the test count. In the private sector, a wide range of qualifications are considered, including extra-curriculum activities and certifications.

For people already employed, the No. 3 reason for taking the exam was stability in employment after child birth. In Korea, public offices and organizations are generous and understanding when it comes to granting parental leave, while in the private sector, taking time off to have or raise a child can slow career advancement.

Some also mentioned the increase in jobs under the current administration.

Half of the respondents planning to take the civil service exam said they are aiming for level-nine positions, the lowest of all ranks.

Saramin PR team head Lim Min-wook explained that the preference for public service in Korea is linked to economic conditions and an increasing concern for work-life balance.

“The perception of low-ranking public servants changed after the International Monetary Fund bailout, when scores of people were fired before reaching retirement, and college graduates started to have difficulty finding jobs,” she said.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]