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Chapter2.Job hunting in Japan

Job hunting in Japan is very unique. You can hardly find a similar style of job hunting in any other country. Japanese companies recruit foreign students with the same recruiting process as Japanese students. In other words, foreign students must compete with their Japanese counterparts. Foreign companies in Japan often follow this Japanese method. Therefore, in Japan, you must find a job under the domestic rules, regardless of whether you are applying to a Japanese or foreign company..

The job hunting process in Japan

Bulk hiring campaign of recent graduates

Hiring of recent graduates of universities and colleges of technology is carried out almost at the same time every year based on companies' announcements of job openings. This Japanese way of bulk hiring or "Shinsotsu-saiyo," is quite unique. Companies want to recruit students who anticipate graduating in the following years, while they are still in school.

Start working in April

Unlike other countries, Japanese universities and colleges of technology send out graduates in March and accept new students in April. Accordingly, those who graduated will join their company and start working on the 1st of April every year.

Job hunting Schedule

Many companies in Japan follow the same recruiting schedule. Job hunting in Japan starts earlier than many other countries. As of 2019, job hunting starts on the 1st of March every year by students who belong to the year prior to the final grade, including the 3rd year of their bachelor's course, 1st year of their master's course or 2nd year of their PhD course respectively. Recruiting season lasts rather long and comes to an end four months later in the middle of June.

Recruitment exam

Many Japanese companies require students to take exams in mathematics, Japanese, English, etc. They often require a profile-sheet with Japanese writing. Various kinds of interviews will be held at least 3 times per company.

Hiring standard

Overseas and Japanese companies tend to hire their staff according to different hiring standards. Overseas companies often follow the "merit-based pay system" which requires industry-ready students in the selection. In such a selection process, the student's major at their university, as well as expertise and skills obtained during internships, etc. can mark the difference between whether they are chosen for the position or not.
Meanwhile, as Japanese companies are accustomed to taking the time to provide employees with training necessary for their job, they tend to recruit promising students with good qualifications, who are likely to contribute to the company in the long-run. The figure on the right indicates data based on employers' responses regarding key characteristics they look for when recruiting potential employees. Japanese companies regard characteristics such as potential communication ability, independence and cooperativeness as more important thanacademic scores, expertise in a certain field and foreign language ability.


Source: Japan Business Federation "Questionnaire Survey on New Graduate Recruitment in 2018"


"Potentiality" originally indicates a capacity for development and future success. "Potentiality-hiring" is a way of recruiting by attaching greater value to an applicant's potential capability and future possibility of being successful, even if they may not be qualified in terms of skills and knowledge to fully contribute to the company at that particular moment. Japanese companies that provide effective training tend to recruit such students with promising future contributions.

Employment system of Japanese companies

Japanese companies mainly conform to membership-type employment. This kind of employment does not specify any job category, work place or working hours and requires employees to be flexible so that they can deal with various kinds of tasks. This very unique Japanese style of employment that demands unlimited dedication in exchange for stable employment and benefits.
These companies hire a number of employees through a unified recruiting campaign every year, then let them get a sense of the company as well as acquire necessary knowledge during the initial "On-the-Job Training" period along with various training sessions for employees to gain further knowledge and skills. Because the job category and place of work are not specified, a company can transfer an employee based on the company's circumstances. As a result, an employee may not be able to expect to be placed in his or her position or location of choice. . This kind of working style is recorded as "Sogo-shoku" or "main career track" on recruitment campaign documents.
Among overseas countries, job-type employment is mainstream. The job-type employment which specifies a type of job and the place of work places high value on having skills and abilities as a specialist. Duration of the job and working conditions are given based on the employee's ability and the company's demands. Such companies can expect an excellent worker with high expertise. However, as such an employment contract covers only a specific range of jobs, workers risk unemployment by termination of contract without relocation , which may happen as a result of the company's performance and management decisions.

Next"chapter3.Schedule of Job Hunting"

(Supervised by Manabu Kubota,

Visiting Researcher of JASSO)