Job hunting in Japan (part II)

Hello! Last week I wrote about the basics of finding a job in Japan and this time I would like to tell you about this unique job-hunting system in the case of foreign students.

First of all, the general scheme is the same. Foreign students should start attending job fairs and similar events during their junior year and do their best to secure a job by the time they graduate.  Starting after graduation is not a good idea. However, since many Japanese companies have recently started to show interest in hiring グローバル人材 gurobaru jinzai “global capable people”, many recruiting companies decided to organize job fairs for foreign students only. This is a good thing for current and future foreign students in Japan since, according to many graduates from my university, as recent as 4 years ago these fairs were unheard of; nowadays they make it to the news because even the Japanese society seems to be amused by this trend. Especially since huge Japanese companies, such as Toyota, the Sumitomo group, Rakuten, Toshiba, NEC and others are joining as well as small companies. Also, recruit sites have started to write articles about job-hunting in Japan in many languages (usually Chiense, Korean and English) and made new sections in their websites made especially for non-Japanese students and companies interested in hiring them. The hunt for “global talent” is already on its way.

A very large job fair for international students only held last year

A very large job fair for international students only held last year

How different are these job fairs from the “standard” others? Besides the fact that companies that go there are willing and looking forward to meeting foreign students who have experienced and learned about Japan for a few years, the style is pretty much the same. Everyone is expected to wear black or navy blue suits, visit booths of the companies they are interested in, submit their “entry sheets” and bring many copies of their resumes (for foreign companies, it’s a good idea to bring resumes in English too) and by the end of the day, be ready to receive plenty of e-mails from companies informing them about their upcoming “informative sessions” 説明会、screening results, tests and interviews. Students must be ready to answer calls from these companies in Japanese.

Company booths, where human resources staff tell soon-to-graduate students about their business and more.

Company booths, where human resources staff tell soon-to-graduate students about their business and more.

From my experience, I can tell you that what concerns foreign students the most is, naturally, the required Japanese language ability. Luckily, most companies attending those job fairs make this requirement public in the job fair website or in the hand-outs given the day of the event. Some companies will ask for a very high proficiency, whereas many are fine with just conversational level. In a few cases, they only require willingness to study Japanese as long as you are fluent in the languages from the countries they are targeting! I saw some companies looking for Bengali, Thai, Burmese and other native speakers regardless of their Japanese language skills. In general, my advice is not to worry too much about this. They won’t expect you to use perfect grammar and sophisticated words when asking questions during their informative sessions or even their interview. What most of them will consider is your ability to fluently and effectively hold a conversation and make your point. Unfortunately, you cannot get away without an at least intermediate Japanese level and of course, the higher your level, the better since competition is getting harder and harder.

I will finish this article as I progress on my own job-hunting with details about job interviews and 内定、the famous “early job offers”.

Eduardo H.


One thought on “Job hunting in Japan (part II)

  1. I strongly disagree with your post.

    I went to one of those job fairs. I was able to “fluently and effectively hold a conversation and make my point”. Then they asked me to take and pass the SP-I and SP-II tests. Good like passing those exams with conversational-level Japanese!

    Why do not they openly and sincerely say that 99% of those companies are actually looking for international students who MASTER Japanese language?

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