May 13, 2019

Job Hunting in Japan

Springtime--it is one of my favorite seasons. To me, it is the season of flowers, but in Japan it is basically a new year; the new school year starts and people start new jobs. And for the poor people that are becoming forth year students in university, it means that the hell of job hunting begins.

Job Hunting in Japan photo

While personally, I am not on a hunt for a job, many of my Japanese friends, and my Japanese boyfriend, are. I see the craziness of the Japanese job hunting system when I look into their stress filled eyes that are underlined in dark circles. The Japanese shuushokukatsudo, or job hunting, system appears to have many flaws. Watching the system fills me with fear not only for my friends, but for myself once I decide that I am ready to move on from being an ALT.

In Japan, most jobs, or at least the goal, is based off of lifetime employment. This means that once an employee has been hired, in most cases, they will work at the same company until they retire. This comes along with a set pay scale as well.

What this means for the graduating students is that once/if they find a job, they are set for life, more or less. However, finding the job is a problem. They basically get one shot. There are many features of the lifetime employment system that discourages workers from breaking the system. That is why, during there one shot, they have a load of pressure that comes along with it.

They have to find a good company, with good pay, that hopefully fits what they want to do and that company has to want them. It is pretty hard to check all of those boxes. Even in Western countries it is hard to job hunt and check all of the boxes, but we at least get a chance to take a job we do not love, get experience and then move on to a different company. There is not that choice in Japan.

Just looking at my friends schedules sends my head spinning. Basically, for the entire month of April, and possibly longer, students have meetings every day, from morning to night, all over the place. It certainly makes my friends exhausted. I mean, I get exhausted by just looking at it. Plus, they have to wear the uptight suits for all of these meetings. Plus, once it becomes the end of April, some people hear good news, but some have to continue. One of my friends in particular has heard nothing, and it is making her panic because it means her chances are getting smaller and smaller. If she misses this window, she will have to wait an entire year to try again. Each year that passes, the chances grow smaller and smaller.

Then there is my boyfriend. He has one year left until he has to begin job hunting and he is already getting nervous. He has to start his research now so that he can be prepared for his small window. Luckily, he has a bit of an edge since he is a science major. They do not have quite as much pressure as other majors. It is similar to how the STEM majors have an edge, basically everywhere.

Knowing and watching all of this makes me worried for myself as well. Currently, I have a job as an ALT and I am happy, but once I am ready to move on to something else, this whole process scares the wits out of me. Will I be able to move on, or will I be stuck in the same place?

What do you think? Have your loved ones gone through the shuushokukatsudo?



Teacher, Traveler, Dancer -
Currently living in Gifu -
I love Japan, dance, cats, food, and fashion!


  • maynestacy

    on May 15

    I visited HelloWork just before Golden Week. I am interested in part-time, "arubaito" freelance type of work.I was wondering if I could find any gardening work, or physical work in a Japanese environment; one look at me and they were looking up eikaiwa. The pay is much better. I love teaching, when the students love learning but I need to be home in the evenings and weekends --I make the meals and have a child. Hello Work did introduce me to serious Japanese studies I could do for free. I will blog about it but first I want to get off the computer and get out! Hope your boyfriend finds what he is looking for in terms of work. Cheers!

  • ReishiiTravels

    on May 15

    @maynestacy Thank you! I hope you find something that suits your needs as well!