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Japan’s Unique Style of Job-Hunting

Job-hunting in Japan is different from job-hunting in other countries in a few ways. In this article, we’ll explain a few of the unusual points you’ll need to be aware of if you want to search for a job in Japan, including the unique selection process, how to dress, and that hiring new graduates doesn’t happen year-round, but only during a limited time period.

Unique Point 1: New employees all start together in the spring
Many Japanese companies begin their fiscal years in April. Students graduate in March, and all begin their employment together in April, beginning with learning about their companies and business etiquette in general. Some companies also do hiring in the fall, but these hiring periods are often reserved for special cases, such as international students who were unable to start work in April.

<Schedule Overview>       *Some companies may not follow this schedule.

3rd Year of University (Beginning in summer): Internships (varies by individual)

4th Year of University (Beginning in spring): Company tests & interviews (group & individual)

             (Beginning around June): Final job offers begin to be released 
                                                (timing will depend on the company)

Until (March) Graduation: [Company-Related] Pre-Assignments, Pre-Training, etc. 

               [School Life] Thesis paper/research, graduation trips, etc.
Unique Point 2: Rules about how to dress
In Japan, job applicants are expected to demonstrate their individuality on the inside rather than the outside. Both men and women are expected to avoid wilder hair colors, and keep their hair as close to their natural color as possible. Be sure to wear a suit in a color like black, navy, or grey.

Japan’s job-hunting system has a lot of rules about hair color, hairstyles, clothing, and even women’s makeup, but the most important thing about your personal grooming is to be clean, healthy, and practical! It’s best if you present yourself cleanly and offer the companies a bright and sunny impression.

Unique Points 3: Internships
Internships are programs through which students can experience what it’s like to work at a real company. The goal of these internships is to gain a better understanding of what the company does, and what working there is like by actually being on-site and doing some of the work. Recently, more companies have begun offering such internships.

Most internships in Japan last from one day to about a month, so many students do their internships over summer or spring vacation periods, but there are also some long-term internships that last several months, and students can participate in these by making arrangements with their university classes.

Internships don’t just inform you about the company at which you interned: it can also be a personal growth experience, and it’s sure to help you in your job search! If you have the opportunity, definitely consider doing an internship.

Unique Point 4: Company Information Sessions
In springtime, companies begin holding information sessions. These can be sessions for individual companies, or large-scale group information sessions. Information sessions held by individual companies typically last about two hours, and will include introductions to the company’s work, different departments, a day with other company employees, and so on, so that students can get a better idea of what it’s really like to work at the company on a daily basis. At multi-company group information sessions, you’ll get shorter company introductions of about 30 minutes each, but you’ll be able to listen to more companies more effeciently in one day. It’s also an important opportunity to discover companies you didn’t know about before, and to speak directly with the employees who work there. Both styles of information session are free to join, so make good use of them.

Unique Point 5: Tests
Large companies use tests to help more efficiently select applicants from an enormous pool for the abilities/personality they’re looking for. There are both private and public tests, and among the public tests, the most well-known is Recruit’s SPI test. You may be able to take the test at home, or at a testing center near your home, but generally, this will be determined by the company to which you’re applying. The test is largely divided into sections for Japanese language, mathematics, English, logic, and personality.

Unique Point 6: Screening
A resume is essential for job-hunting in Japan. A “rirekisho,” or Japanese resume, is a document that includes your field of study, history of employment, and a written explanation of your current status, and these are used in a company’s decision to hire you or not. Some companies may require your resume to be hand-written. Your resume is not just a list of your previous education and employment, either, but also includes a section for you to write about what you focused on as a student, and to promote yourself. It’s important to carefully include the points you’d most like the company to see positively in you.

Another unique part of the screening process is group discussion. Group discussions are held to see how applicants would behave within the organization, and are usually held between 5-8 student applicants, with a topic given by the company. The facilitator, note-taker, presenter, etc. are decided on the spot, and the group will be evaluated for its teamwork.

So there you have it: Japan’s unique job-hunting system. There may be a lot you don’t yet know amongst these unfamiliar words and culture, and you may feel nervous, but when that happens, be sure to make use of your school, or general career services!

Job-hunting services in Kobe City (Hyogo Prefecture):
Kobe Municipal Overseas Business Center
Consortium of Universities in Hyogo/Kobe
Hyogo Labor Office