With the coronavirus pandemic adding to the challenge of finding work in a foreign country, overseas students in Japan have taken to visiting online job-information fairs, events that also give companies in rural areas access to a more diverse range of candidates.
A recent virtual job fair featuring nine companies was attended by more than 1,100 students from 24 countries and territories such as Indonesia and Thailand. In addition to sessions run by the participating firms, the event also included seminars on job hunting in Japan and a personal consultation corner.
Sessions by the firms, which included Nitori Holdings Co., a Tokyo-based home furnishings retailer, and Marukyo Co., a confectionery maker based in Tottori Prefecture, lasted 45 minutes each. Some firms used English and Chinese during their presentations.
Questions from the job seekers included wanting to know what the companies expect from foreign students to the level of Japanese ability required and how much overtime there would be per month.
Kompyang Supartini, an Indonesian employee at The Monogatari Corp. who participated in one session, cited difficulties in communicating with her Japanese colleagues but said the company offers Japanese-language lessons and training in business manners for of its international staff.
Kompyang works as a manager at one of about 500 restaurants the Aichi Prefecture-based company operates in Japan and has an eye on Monogatari’s plans to expand the number of restaurants it runs in Southeast Asia.
“I want to gain more knowledge and experience in Japan and be ready to be deployed as manager of an outlet in my home country,” she said.
Pasona Inc., a major staffing firm that organized the event, said Japanese job hunting is “unique and difficult,” citing the Japanese practice of hiring new graduates en masse in April, the particularities of Japanese resume-writing technique and job interview etiquette.
Nonetheless, Pasona spokeswoman Yuko Hashimoto said, “It’s not only companies with overseas branches that are seeking foreign hires but also those that only operate domestically, in the expectation of generating a good ‘chemical reaction’ from having a more diverse workforce.”
Pasona has organized job fairs for foreign students since 2007, and Hashimoto feels that going online has made it easier for students and companies to meet up, regardless of the size or location of the firm.
A labor ministry official also said online job fairs and interviews have helped new graduates.
“There was a period last year when all job-hunting activities halted, but the rates of those who found jobs have gradually improved, partly due to the spread of online interviews,” the official said.
The job-search season for students who will graduate next March got off to a solid start, said Recruit Co., which operates Rikunabi, a major job-hunting website.
According to the company, the percentage of those who found work as of May 1 stood at 51.3% of graduating students, up 5.6 points from a year earlier, and about the same level as in pre-pandemic 2019.
As of April 1, the start of the business year in Japan, the employment rate for those who graduated in March fell 2.0 points from a year earlier to 96.0% as companies cut new hires due to the harsh economic climate amid the pandemic, according to the labor and education ministries.
The ministries plan to continue their support for students through such means as retaining the same number of career counselors as last year — around 1,400 — up 20% from the pre-pandemic period.
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