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As world economy becomes increasingly borderless, the Japanese economy has also become diverse in terms of seeking human resources. A number of Japanese business organizations are now trying to attract international students.
They are looking for the following three characteristics in international students:
In general, international students have overcome various difficulties in life while they study in Japan. It is likely that they have gained strength through dealing with language/cultural problems or even financial problems. Overcoming such obstacles is a special ability in conducting business.
It is thought that many international students have well-defined objective in future. Having clear objectives means they possess the ability to formulate clear plans.It is therefore recommended that international students spell out their career plans and objectives at interviews.
International students are expected to possess a good command of written and oral Japanese in addition to their native language. Except for some technical jobs, foreign employees are required to possess an ability to read, write and communicate in Japanese as they participate in meetings and communicate with Japanese colleagues. It is expected that international students with good command of the Japanese language will be able to adapt to Japanese business organizations quickly. It will be highly regarded if they also possess English language skills.
Although a number of Japanese business organizations gradually have increased the intake of foreign workers, job opportunities for foreigners are still rather limited. It is especially difficult to be accepted to the organizations that limit their market to Japan such as financial institutions, electric organizations, government and other public offices. It is suggested that international students first contact the personnel section of a desired organization and inquire about the job opportunity in advance.
Below is an interview with an international student who completed job hunting in Japan. Please use it as reference.
Interview with student who received a temporary job offer
Corporation of temporary job offer: SoftBank Group Corp.
What did you emphasize on during your years at SFC?
A. Since I did not join any student clubs, I focused on my studies at SFC. Focusing especially on languages and Seminar allowed me to gain diverse experience. Learning a foreign language not only teaches us grammar and vocabulary, for example, but also gives us a feel of the social and cultural aspects of that country. Studying languages gives us a global mindset to think things from a wider perspective. The Seminar, on the other hand, trains us to specialize in a specific field we are interested in. I could acquire knowledge in a wide variety of fields by joining different Seminars that matched my interests.
Why did you decide on a career in Japan?
I'm interested in Japan's market trends, and that is why I decided on a career here. Today Japan faces the issue of declining birthrate and aging population. Since the issue is at an advanced stage compared to other countries, Japanese businesses are keeping up with its issue by proposing all sorts of products and services to consumers. Declining birthrate and aging population is not only Japan's crisis but spreading worldwide. I decided on working here to acquire Japanese companies' skills of being keen and responsive to social issues, and to eventually project what I learned to the world.
Why did you accept SoftBank's temporary job offer?
I liked SoftBank's casual atmosphere, and that's what made me decide on them. The job interview was not bound by traditional rules or customs, and I got the impression that the interviewers were looking at me as a person, or at how a student is. Also, I had high expectations for the telecommunications industry. While all of Japan is in economic downturn, telecommunications is one of the growing industries, and I felt that was where the challenge was.
As an international student, what difficulties did you encounter during job hunting?
Language was a large obstacle for me. Because my proficiency was much lower than my Japanese friends, it was difficult for me to score high in written examinations. Vocabulary, reading comprehension, and grammar - I was inadequate in all of them, and had to try much harder than my friends. I also had difficulties with the application form and interview, and realized I needed to practice getting my point across to people. Staff at the Career Services Section and my Japanese friends, people who can look at me objectively, helped overcome my obstacles.
On the other hand, what are the advantages of being an international student during job hunting?
I guess the main advantage is having more experience than an average Japanese student. The advantage for any international student is having lived in 2, 3 or more countries, and having experienced the cultures and customs of each country. Through these experiences, international students possess concepts and critical thinking differing from Japanese students which become beneficial in job hunting. Being able to talk about my ideas and experiences creates at edge over other applicants, and also stirs interests on the interviewer's side.
Do you have any advice for international students who will be going through job hunting in Japan?
The first and most important thing I can say is to never give up. During job hunting, everyone suffers a setback of some sort, so it's essential to keep pushing forward with a positive attitude. When I failed interviews, I'd blame myself and lose confidence. But you can't do that forever. Sooner or later, you have to change and start thinking maybe the corporation has a different outlook than you, or, they won't suit you anyway, and so on, and start planning your next goal. Don't be afraid of one failure, because someday a corporation that values you will come up. Keep your chin up until you find that corporation, and they find you.