Job hunting for students in Japan is quite different from that in other countries. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of job hunting activities in Japan.
What is “shinsotsu”?
The word “shinsotsu” (新卒) is an abbreviation for new graduate, referring to a person who will graduate from school that year. On the other hand, those who have already graduated from university are called “kisotsu” (既卒).
Shinsotsu are basically students, so they have little or no job experience. However, being a shinsotsu in job hunting is extremely advantageous, as many companies have recruitment conducted specifically for new graduates. People who are not new graduates cannot apply if the word “shinsotsu” is written in the entry conditions of a job.
How long are you considered “shinsotsu”?
Not everyone can finish job hunting during their school days, so some students graduate from school without finding a company to enter. In response to these circumstances, the government asked companies to consider students as shinsotsu for 3 years after graduating from high school or university. As a result, major companies such as Toyota Motor Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Takashimaya announced that they would treat students who graduated from school within three years as shinsotsu starting recruitment of spring of 2012.
Timing of job hunting in Japan
Generally students start full-fledged job hunting from about March of their third year of the university. This is because companies do not make sudden decisions, and the application process can be long.
Many students also research various industries and corporations and participate in internships, to expand their vision of what they are interested in. In parallel, it is also important to conduct self-analysis to grasp the roots and features of your interests.
The flow of job hunting activity is generally as follows.
1. Participation in employment-information sessions
Many companies conduct information sessions where you can listen to the company’s more detailed explanation, and will be of great use in future exams and interviews. It is a good idea to actively participate in briefings and seminars of companies that you are interested in. In order to participate, advance reservation is usually necessary.
2. Written exam
In written exams, general knowledge questions, aptitude, composition, etc. are tested.
After passing the written exam, you will proceed to the interview. Many companies begin with a group interview (discussion) and set up 3 or 4 stages of interviews with managers and then executives. In the interviews, it’s important to present yourself well and speak concretely about what job you want to do and what you think about the company.
Naitei is an informal offer of a job after passing the interviews. After that, you will receive an official offer letter from the company. You’ll feel relief if you get an offer letter.
Job hunting schedule of prospective graduates in 2020
The schedule of job hunting for those planned to graduate in 2020 is:
June – recruitment exams and interviews
October – job offers
April 2020 – first day of work
The point of caution is that companies wanting to secure excellent students may start recruitment activities earlier than the guideline issued by the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren, 経団連). Try early preparation so that a company that you wish to join has not already closed the entry because of too many applicants.
Three points regarding the job hunting schedule
You should keep these 3 points in mind as you begin your job search.
1. Prepare for job hunting by February
On March 1st, companies start accepting entries and briefing sessions, mainly on information sites for job hunting activities. After entry, your schedule will soon fill up with participation in orientation sessions, entry sheet (ES) submissions, taking written exams and aptitude tests, OB / OG visits etc.
If you are planning to start searching for companies and researching industry / enterprise after March, it is actually difficult to take sufficient time. To advance your job hunting activity advantageously, it is important to finish preparations for employment activities by February such as participating in internships, making a list of companies you are interested in, and doing corporate research.
2. Explore a wide range of companies in March
Many students initially make entries focused on only major companies or their favorite company/industry. As a result, there are many students who cannot obtain a job offer and resume company searching the next May or June. Don’t be afraid to expand your search to some unknown brands or related industries. You may find a company you really like while at the same time lowering your risk by having back-ups.
3. Keep in mind that the schedule is a guide only
The initial schedule I mentioned is in line with guidelines of the Japan Business Federation. However, it is true that many companies that aren’t members of this group, such as foreign-affiliated companies, IT-based companies, and small and medium-sized firms, are conducting selection (interview) and hiring decisions at different times. It is a good idea to frequently check trends of companies that you wish to join before March, regardless of the job hunting schedule decided by the Japan Business Federation.
In a Japanese company, full-scale job search starts concurrently one year before graduating. Therefore, you should also complete preparation for job hunting by March this year. For foreign students planning to graduate in 2020 who wish to get a job at a Japanese company, I hope that this article will be helpful.