Why do companies ask for entry sheets?

The entry sheet, infamously known as ES, is what most Japanese companies are asking for in a job-hunting application, whether it is online or hand-written, you have to post it with your application.

The ES is the closest thing to a western cover letter, and it consists of a set of short-answer questions. Each company has a different set of questions they want their applicants to answer, usually between 200 ~ 500 of Japanese characters per question. Often you will be asked to write about your strengths and weaknesses, your subject at university, your most challenging experience, your reason to join the company or/and pursue a certain career, how you see yourself in 10 years, and so on.

The entry sheet is actually the key element of your application, and a good ES will give you a ticket to the interview.

Now, most students are not aware of the existence of ES and the purpose it serves as well as what Japanese companies are looking for in your answers, which really hinders their job-hunting journeys as they fail to move to the next big step: the interview.

I’ll first take you through those basic concepts before giving some practical guidelines in writing your ES. Do not skip this step, as it is the most important factor to write a good ES and get you that interview ticket that is going to take you a step closer to your dream.

Why entry sheets exist:
When hiring new-graduates, companies know that students do not have any working experience nor practical skills that will be helpful in the workforce. Actually, companies are not even looking for such skills in new-graduates, and care even less about your GPA, and even your degree sometimes. In fact, after hiring you the company is mostly likely to assign you to a department or a job they think will suit your character, your skills, your aspirations as well as fill in for the company's needs at that time. But this is a topic for another day. [reference article: applying to companies, not jobs]

So what are companies looking for when hiring new-graduates ?
They want to know what kind of person you are likely to become after entering the workforce.
This might sound really obscure at first.

In simple words, companies want to know how you are going to deal with challenges, teamwork, hardships, problems, and so on. Keep in mind that this varies according to the industry. An insurance or trading company is mainly looking for salesmen, which means that those companies will be looking at your communication, persuasion and competition skills. On the other hand, manufacturer and IT companies will look at your curiosity and leadership.

Now, how do companies do that ?
They look at students' previous experiences and analyze what they did, assuming that if they built the skill to overcome challenges during their education, they are most likely to have the skill to overcome challenges in the workforce. Yes, they judge your skills based on your experiences and not your GPA. Companies value little the results and more the process. Does this sound familiar ? It is the same in math, more than the final answer, your work flow and the equations matter. Makes sense right ?

Now, how do companies do that ?
Well, they make the applicants fill in the entry sheet! Therefore the questions on your ES are going to help the company evaluate the following :

  • Your personality
  • Your competency
  • Your enthusiasm about the job
  • Your intelligence

  • In the next article, we will walk you through typical ES questions, and then give you the know-hows you need to write that perfect answer that will allow the company to evaluate your experiences.

    Juliette Tempia
    Content Writer and SNS Marketer
    Harmony For Inc.

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