For university students graduating this spring, finding jobs is not an easy task. As of February, about 80 percent of them had found work, the third lowest percentage on record. The situation for students graduating next year is expected to be a little better.

Job interviews for students who will graduate next year began this month. But in recent years employers have been steadily pushing forward the date when they begin trying to seek out promising prospective employees. Facing criticism that this practice is negatively impacting university students’ studies, the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), Japan’s leading business lobby, last year revised its guideline, and as a result many businesses pushed back their search for prospective employees from October to December for students in their junior year.

Companies that mainly rely on domestic demand expect that the reconstruction of areas devastated by the 3/11 disasters will increase their business opportunities. A growing number of firms in the fields of distribution, services, information and food plan to hire more recruits in fiscal 2013.

Manufacturing firms such as carmakers and metal makers, which are largely export-oriented, are cautious about increasing their number of recruits. But the possibility cannot be ruled out that they may increase hiring next year if the yen grows weaker and the economic recovery accelerates.

Still, it would be wise for students to prepare for possible volatility in the job market. One factor that must be taken into account is the effect globalization is having on the economy. Some companies such as Uniqlo and Aeon plan to hire more foreign workers in accordance with their efforts to expand their business abroad. Japanese students will need to widen their perspective and would be well-advised to improve their foreign language ability, especially English and Chinese.

Students should squarely evaluate the job market and seriously think about what kind of career they would really like to pursue. And rather than limit their search for employment to only major companies as is the traditional tendency, they should apply to companies or organizations that match their criteria regardless of their size. Doing so will not only increase their chances of finding employment but also help them land more satisfactory jobs

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