I am going to be introducing 3 things that I learned from my experience job hunting in Japan.
- have a professional take your profile picture
Most companies will ask for your picture with certain conditions such as size and background.
When I first started applying to internships in May, I used a picture taken with my phone by my mom. I edited the lighting and made it look like it was taken in a photo booth. While this is okay, I recommend actually going to a studio to get your profile picture taken. It just makes you and your resume look more professional!
Even if you put aside professionality, Japanese companies tend to have a preferred looks/style or personality traits that they look for in students. While traditional rules and customs such as hair being dark and pulled back into a ponytail and wearing a black or navy suit is well known, similarly, there is an unspoken style for pictures too. This is because the company will decide your first impression based on the picture you submit. Certain companies or positions look for people who are confident with leadership while others will look for those who have positive energy and look friendly. If you go to a studio, the photographer will ask you what industries and companies you are applying to, and will give you directions so that you can appeal to human resources on why you fit the position you applied to through expression. Many studios will lend you suits and also do your hair and makeup. It’s about ¥10,000 but I think it is worth it!
- The tests are intense
When you apply to large companies after you submit your resume you are most likely required to take a test.
There are many types of tests but most include Japanese and Math. The Japanese test asks you to answer the meaning of proverbs and will make you read short passages to answer questions on what you have read. The Math test includes various problems so I recommend you buy a book to prepare for the test.
The test is intense, but not hard. The math test includes middle school level questions so it’s not difficult but the time limit is very tight. You have to solve the problems quickly or you will run out of time. Many people will take the test with friends so that they can finish on time and have a high accuracy rate. This is technically cheating but if you think you have a better chance then go for it. To prevent people from taking the test together, some companies will ask you to go to a Test Center so I say just study for it.
What I did was a study with a friend. We would get together every week on Monday and spend around two hours solving math problems. It was really helpful because we could teach each other and practice solving problems fast.
- Don’t kiss the company up
This might be my biggest advice for job hunting!
I made the mistake of using the company’s words when expressing myself and when writing my resume. People will advise you to research the company’s mission and what they look for when hiring and this is very important. However, remember that those are only reference materials. I found myself using those word’s when explaining why I want to work for that company.
This was something I wrote at the beginning of my job hunting, and you can easily tell that anyone can write this. I used words and phrases that the company had used on their hiring website. The issue is not that I burrowed their words but it is more about the fact that I was kissing the company up by using their words to say that “I’ve done my research and that’s who I want to be.” Obviously, there is no answer so I am not saying this is wrong but when you read the passage above it doesn’t show you who I am or my experience that led to believe that I fit the company. This next example shows more of my experience and you can tell what kind of things I am passionate about.
If you find yourself using the company’s words more than your own then you might want to rethink what you’re writing. Companies are actually interested in you and want to get to know you. So show them how amazing you are and why someone should hire you in your own words and story.