Why you must apply to companies and not jobs in Japan

Congratulations, you have started your job-hunting journey in Japan. At this point, you might or might not know what kind of career you want to pursue. Regardless of that, you will need to read this article, "Finding your dream career."

Frankly speaking, when applying for jobs here in Japan, you usually cannot apply for a specific position. In fact, most companies only offer general applications and will assign you to a certain job only after you have been recruited.

I agree that is kind of frustrating, but regardless of that, it is not bad as you think. There are still ways to get to the job you want.

Allow me to explain.
Japan’s hiring process is based on the traditional lifetime employment system. What does that mean? Well, it mainly refers to 2 things.

1. Company-fit
When employers are looking for recruits among new-graduates, they are looking at how well you fit the company culture. Think about it, these are the people you will most likely be working with until retirement, hence it makes sense that they care about what kind of personality you have.
What will determine whether you are fit for the company or not? Well, it all depends on your ES and your interview responses.
To put it plainly employers are looking for the match in their values with yours. Therefore, I have mentioned it multiple times, that it is important to apply to the companies that are in line with your values. Ask yourself the following questions. Does the company value open-minded thinking? Do they have work-life balance? Do they pay for overtime work? Do they make new recruits do non-paid cleaning tasks before working hours (yes some often do)? Do they have a strict and rigid hierarchy system? Do they value profit over their employees? The list could go on and on, but it will help you to figure out your ideal work style. Give it some thought and then determine your criteria. Based on that you can start looking for and filter companies that do not match your values.

2. In-house training
When companies are hiring new-graduates they assume that you will work for them until you retire. Sounds kind of intimidating, right? Do not worry about this for now, instead simply understand this concept and use it to your advantage to improve your application.
Because of the assumption that you will work for them until you retire, companies are often willing to invest resources to train you. This implies training not only for a single job but a multitude of them. This is what they call job-rotation. Based on your potential and your performance, the company will train you for certain tasks and/or positions. In order to make sure you utilize yourself to the fullest, you will be assigned to different departments. This way companies allow you to move up their inner career ladder so that you will not be tempted to change them for other employers.

Due to the existence of this system, try to think of what kind of job you want to be doing, while applying to the companies. You will probably be asked this question: "What would you like to achieve in 10 years?" This roughly translates as, what you would like to achieve in our company in the next 10 years. To answer, try to think of how that company will help you grow and achieve your dreams in the future.

In conclusion, when applying for jobs follow these 2 general guidelines:

1) Think of the kind of environment you want to work in and list all the necessary criteria
2) Utilize the Japanese in-house training culture to your advantage and plan your career accordingly

Follow these rules to join your dream company and get that dream job of yours!

Juliette Tempia
Harmony For Inc.

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