Certain English words do not appear in English dictionaries, though they are frequently used in daily life in Korea. Konglish words include skinship, handphone and backmirror, and the latest is spec. Derived from the term specification, it means qualifications for employment. College students call TOEIC scores, overseas study, certificates, community work and internships a five-set spec.
With college turning into a place that prepares students for landing jobs instead of an institution of learning, college students are locked in cutthroat competition for a good spec. The number of unemployed 20-somethings reached 1.06 million in August, showing how desperate they must be in seeking jobs while still in college. Worse, the world financial crisis has forced domestic companies to curtail hiring and the Lee Myung-bak administrations public sector reform has reduced the number of new jobs at both state-owned companies and organizations. One report says only 3.8 out of every 100 job applicants are hired nowadays.
The tight job market is forcing college students to pour a significant amount of time and money into getting a decent spec. Many take courses to get a better grade and delay graduation to buy time for job preparation. Certain conglomerates consider blood donation as community service, prompting a rush of college students to give blood. The number of collegians who donated blood this year has risen 35 percent, higher than that of servicemen in taking the top spot for the second consecutive year. Its like selling blood to land jobs. The Korea Labor Institute estimates that excessive competition for a good spec among job applicants costs the country 2.09 trillion won (1.73 billion U.S. dollars) a year.
Its understandable that young people are pulling out all the stops to create a better spec. Its pathetic, however, that efforts to increase employment prospects do little to land a job. With everybody striving to get a decent spec, jobseekers qualifications seem almost the same. A personnel staff member at a big company said, Most job applicants have received overseas training, so those who couldnt afford it due to poor economic conditions actually stand out. Personnel staff advise jobseekers to learn from those who land jobs, instead of striving to raise their spec.
Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)