If you’re an international student thinking about working in Japan, you’re already aware that it’s a unique country with its own distinct traditions and culture. You may not be aware that the process of job-hunting in Japan is also very different from that found in most other countries. Here we will look into the details of the culture of job-hunting in Japan.
Features of job-hunting in Japan
Typical features of job-hunting in Japan are:
- New graduate recruitment
- Joining a company in April
- Simultaneous recruitment
- No experience required
Let’s take a closer look at each point below.
1. New graduate recruitment
Many Japanese companies have a unique system of hiring new employees direct from undergraduate, graduate, higher professional and vocational schools. This is called “new graduate recruitment”, as opposed to “mid-career recruitment.” When young talent leave their first company within three years and look for a new job, it is called “second new graduate recruitment.” Most companies usually prefer recruiting new graduates in their graduation year.
Recently, it has become more common for personnel to change jobs mid-career because of the rise in demand for skilled talent. However, there are still many major corporations in Japan that prefer recruiting new graduates. If you hope to get a job in a popular field in Japan, or with a prominent company, you should not miss the timing of new graduate recruitment.
2. Joining a company in April
Japanese universities and vocational schools accept new students in April, while it is common in many other countries to start a new term in September. Under the Japanese system many new graduates start a full-time job in April, soon after their graduation.
However, there is an emerging trend in which companies are also opening the door to new graduates from foreign universities in September. Some companies even recruit new employees throughout the year, due to a labor shortage in Japan.
3. Simultaneous recruitment
Under the ethical guidelines of the Keidanren, the Japan Business Federation – which has a membership of more than 1,300 major Japanese companies – firms are required to start recruiting new graduates at the same time every year. This promotes fairness in recruitment activities and reduces the burden on students who are busy with their studies. For example, new graduate recruitment for expected graduates in April 2020 will start in March 2019.
However, not all companies follow the Keidanren guidelines, as these can sometimes prevent firms from recruiting better talent. To select the best candidates, some firms use internships during the summer vacation as part of the recruitment process, and other foreign-affiliated companies even give students an official job offer earlier on.
If you aim to work at a certain company, it is strongly recommended that you start gathering information – including about internships – before companies officially begin recruiting, so as not to miss any opportunity.
4. No experience required
In recruiting new graduates, Japanese firms prioritize individual potential over skills and experience, because new employees are assigned to each position after joining a company. This originates from the unique Japanese employment culture. For example, major companies offer business training to their employees, and regularly transfer them to different departments – a process called “job rotation.”
In recent years, however, some Japanese firms have hired new graduates by specific position types, especially for highly specialized occupations such as engineers. You have a better chance of being hired as an engineer from the beginning of your career if you already have the relevant experience in programming and developing applications.
The job-hunting process in Japan is often very different from that of other countries. If international students hope to succeed in finding a job in Japan, they need to be aware of this process. Understanding the above features in this guideline will be a great help.