Saturday, 5 March 2016

Shukatsu Seminar and Fair

Today, I went back to Ito campus after a long, long time. There was a shukatsu seminar for foreign students, and a job fair for foreign students held today, and it's a chance I couldn't pass up. The seminar was actually really useful, so I figured that I'd report what I learnt, for everyone else who's going to do shukatsu.

Back at Ito Campus
First though, a small report on the fair, so skip down if you just want to read about the advice for job hunting that I got. The job fair was totally not crowded, which I really appreciated. I went to listen to Omron, Kyocera and NEC, and I found the presentations interesting. These are definitely companies that I wouldn't have listened to at a normal talk, and it was enlightening.

Ok, now to the interesting part:

Shukatsu advice for Foreign Students
First up, two facts:

1. A big company gets about 20000 applicants. From there, only 50 people get job offers.

2. An average student will apply to 10 companies, but only get job offers from 2 to 3.

What this tells us is - the Japanese job hunting system is meant to have you fail. Repeatedly. So not giving up easily is very, very important.

So, as a foreign student, what do companies want from you? Well, they're looking for language abilities, communication skills, passion, and vitality. While we're talking about the language skills thing, well, they want a JLPT N1 (which I don't have... oops!) or the Business Japanese Test (BJT) J1 or J1. If English isn't your first language, you should be getting a TOEIC score of over 730. Oh, and they do expect you to know about three languages, if English isn't your first language (according to the lecturer)

To sum it up a different way, there are two types of people that Japanese companies want:
1. Global talent
2. Bridge talent (able to bridge between two countries)

It's up to you to decide which aspect you want to emphasise in your applications. And for the record, Fukuoka companies tend to look for Bridge talent.

The second half of the talk was more about the entry sheet -what to write and so on. My main takeaway was:

1. Avoid keywords.

What does communication skills mean? No one knows, not even HR people. Be more specific than that - for example, negotiation skills, explanation skills, listening skills, etc. Try to describe what you can do instead of relying on keywords.

2. There is normally a "A Time I have Worked Hard" section and a "Self PR" section in the entry sheet. Try to add variety for this.

In other words, don't emphasise two of the same skills. Try to make one about teamwork, and one about your own independent skills. By the way, this is the part I'm terrible at, and it took me a long time to even think of examples. For a moment, I wanted to use this blog and be like "does this count as communication skills", but after talking with a career counsellor we decided on this:

Working hard - My Transcosmos experience
Self PR - The Washoku Kentei experience (trying to fit in a mention of the finishing school as well).

Most students normally talk about their club activities and their part-time work, but I don't have that, so this will have to do.

3, When writing about your experience, think STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result).

This is the basic structure of how we can write about ourselves. Describe the situation, talk about the problem, talk about the plan (what you planned), how did the plan go/how was it carried out, what were the results, and for a bonus, you can talk about what you learnt, and any other results. That will be what leaves a stronger expression.

The last section of the talk was about deciding what industry and company to work in, and the basic idea is - use ALL information, from the Investor Relations thing, to whatever videos by employees they put out. The companies are basically telling you what they want, so use that information.

And that's basically what I learnt today. If you're currently job hunting in Japan, I hope this helps. If you have any other pieces of advice you want to share, leave a comment or email me  (I'd love for someone to do a guest blog on this). I'd love to hear more tips from my senpai's XD Of course, I'll continue updating everyone on how the job hunting goes for me.

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