If you are or have been an exchange student in Japan, it’s likely you’ll have come across the term ‘shukatsu’ or job hunting. For students this typically begins in the second-last year of a degree programme, with the aim being to have secured a job offer or ‘nai-tei’ during your final year.
Every year there are huge intakes into companies across Japan, consisting entirely of new grads, or ‘shin-sotsu’. And with Japan’s ageing population and declining workforce, there is an even greater demand for foreign graduates than before. Even the definition of new grad (shin-sotsu) has had to be relaxed, allowing people who may have graduated in previous years, or those who have work experience and are looking to change jobs, access to the same hiring pool.
If you’re job-hunting in Japan, your choices are going to be determined by your Japanese language ability. Some positions require fluency, some just intermediate skills, and some are entirely in English or offer language training.
Most companies do their major intakes twice a year, for people wanting to start in April and for those wanting to start in October. Shu-katsu in itself has a very organised schedule, so it’s best to be prepared well in advance.
So, where to get started?
Recruitment Portals – “Mynavi” and “Rikunabi”
One of these two major job-searching sites is where most people begin. You create an account and apply to any of the multitude of listings that are available in a wide variety of fields. These sites also provide an option to sign up for a free recruiter service to help liaise with employeers.
After creating an account, your job-search will be neatly organised and managed within the site. You communicate with potential employers through it and it keeps track of where you have applied and how far you have progressed in the selection process.
There are both Japanese and English versions of these sites, but below are links to the English:
A general process would start by putting in an initial expression of interest through the site, or ‘pre-entry’. The company will respond by asking you to submit a more detailed resume in order to carry out the document screening.
Those who have passed the document screening may then, depending on the company, be asked to sit an online aptitude test. This consists of multiple-choice questions in reading comprehension and numerical reasoning. The next stage of progression is to interview – again depending on the company, between one and three times.
Often there is also an additional paper test – usually an SPI test. This is a standardised test in literary and numerical logical thinking, not dissimilar to the initial online test. If you are an international applicant, you will usually have the choice to sit the test in English. Various textbooks and study sites covering how to answer specific question types are also available.
Another great way to get your foot in the door is to attend one of the many recruiting seminars held throughout the year in Japan and overseas.
At these seminars you can hand in your resume and interview on the day. Some companies will do interviews on the spot, however many require pre-bookings for interviews, which can be done through the seminar registration site.
There are various different events held in many different places throughout the year but to name a few recommendations:
Mynavi Global Career Expo
Job Haku – Job Fair in Japan
Career Forum (CFN)
These are great options as they are aimed specifically at foreign applicants. Many will interview in English or give the option between English and Japanese. These events are a very accessible way to job-search in Japan, especially if you are currently living overseas or are in Japan only for a short while and can’t stay through an extended process.