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Job Hunting in Japan

Writer: Nadira Annisa Photos: Savanna Segara's personal collection

Are you deciding whether to work in Japan or maybe going back to your home country? Well, Japan has a different kind of system when Job hunting or more commonly called Shukatsu. Shukatsu is an abbreviation of “shūshoku [finding employment] katsudō” [activities]. Some of you may have heard that it's a very hard and rigorous process. However our senpai, Savanna Segara, who just graduated last September 2018 will give us more of an image of what Shukatsu it all about.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? My name is Venna, I was an APM major specializing in Innovation & Economics. During my APU life I was involved in a couple of organizations such as ALRCS and APUIna. I was also a MCW TA for 3 years. I will start working for Unilever Japan’s Supply Chain department in Tokyo this April 2019.

Have you always wanted to work in Japan? Or did you consider going back to Indonesia? I never seriously considered looking for a job in Japan until my 6th semester-and most of my friends as well, I believe! Sooner or later you will realize that being an APU student is a huge advantage in itself with all the companies coming for On Campus Recruiting. Moreover, I went on domestic exchange to Ritsumeikan so my Japanese wasn’t too shabby. I decided to use the opportunity…and somehow I got a job in Japan!

What did you prepare for Job Hunting? Japanese skills, both written and speaking, are very important for the job hunting process. One of the most vital things that will make or break your whole job hunting process is the quality of your entry sheet. I had no shame and rounded up all the help I could regarding my entry sheet-grammar checks with Japanese friends, trading opinions with fellow job hunters, and some expert insight from my seminar professor (who is Japanese). Doing mock interviews is great too, either with friends or by yourself. Never look like you just memorized a script and recited it out loud.

When did the process start? And how was it? The recruiting process for international companies start a bit faster than Japanese companies. The first test was in late November, and after multiple interviews I received a job offer in April. As  Unilever was my first choice, I stopped my whole job hunting process as soon as I received the offer, and decided to focus on my graduation thesis.

What are the deciding factors in choosing the company you want? It isn’t so much as the money and benefits for me, it was more of how the company philosophy fit my own personal philosophy. This may sound very idealistic, but I always wanted to have a job that would allow me to contribute to society and impact many people’s lives. Unilever bases their whole company strategy to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations-it’s not just a CSR stunt, they are seriously committed to increase the size of their business while halving their environmental impact by 2030. My position as a Supply Chain employee challenges me to help achieve that goal: I will be responsible to ensure raw materials are sourced sustainably, create a more eco-friendly packaging, or find a way to reduce the carbon footprint to transport the product from factory to the customer. Having a job that enables me to have an active role in the process of making the world a better place-that was the deciding factor to me.

Dos and Donts for Job Hunting? Do: Sharpen your Japanese skills and write a decent entry sheet. Make it personal and unique, don't sound like the other hundred people applying for that job. Prepare more than one version and use them based on TPO: Time, Place, and Opportunity. For example, don’t emphasize your intercultural communication skills during an On Campus Recruiting session, as that isn’t a unique skill among APU students. However, when you’re doing an interview off campus, those communication skills will make you stand out among others.

Don't: overly focus on credentials like your GPA or your JLPT score. Companies won't be paying much attention to that at all.

Any important tips or for students who wants to do job hunting? Choose a strategy that suits you: you don’t have to apply to 30 different companies like everybody else! Find the few companies you actually like and prepare your applications thoroughly. Last but not least, enjoy the process and don’t compare your own progress too much to others! finding a job is like finding your soulmate, it’s different for everybody! 😉

Did it give you a better image of Job hunting in japan? Or maybe did it change your decision to work in Japan? Hopefully all the tips that Vena has given, will be help you in preparing better for your shukatsu. One thing for sure is try your best, so that you won't regret any result that you will receive!

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