29 June 2014

Job Hunting in Japan

I'm delighted to announce that I've landed a job in Tokyo, and will be start working from July onwards. Main job focus will be search engine optimization (SEO).

Well, let me share something or two about my experience of job-hunting in Japan.

1) It’s better to start early, but no harm to start later either.

In Japan the job-hunting (就職活動) for university graduates started about a year before graduation, which means the final year will be busy with job-hunting and 4th (final) year projects/researches. In fact, the previous trend was such that students start looking for jobs at least 1.5 years before graduation. At the same time, it's a rather time-consuming process to go through the companies, attending the career seminars and interviews for many rounds...

This may be slightly different than other countries.

Back in Malaysia, the students either started few months before graduation, or few months after graduation (sabbatical vacation in between). The process is rather straight-forward with just a few interviews, compared to a norm of at least 3 or more rounds of interview per company in Japan.

For my case, my plan changed drastically in the final year. Instead of further studying in Masters, I've decided to take a gamble and get into job-hunting.

I started rather late, just a month before graduation in March. Went to close to 10 companies' interview before settling down at this IT venture at the end of May.

For international students in Japan, we are entitled to apply for job-hunting visa (特定活動申請), as the name suggested for us to continue looking for job even after graduation. The duration given is half year, but extendable up to a year (eg: graduated in March 2014, but eligible to stay in Japan til March 2015).

While it may seems to be a risky move, no harm give yourself a little more time to look for suitable companies. From my experience, small venture companies or non-Japanese companies have higher chance of hiring people all year round, unlike the usual period that most Japanese companies abide to.

2) The advantage of a Malaysian student in Japan

It's not just Malaysians only, but generally speaking South East Asian (SEA) students are being actively scouted and recruited by Japanese companies.

With the current Japanese government's pro-SEA stance, more Japanese companies are eager to expand their business to the southern region instead of their closeby neighbours (due to political clashes obviously).

Manufacturing plants in Thailand or Vietnam, and service hubs at Singapore or Malaysia.
Cheaper cost, politically-stable and decent infrastructures are some of the main reasons of the SEA expansion.

The Japanese companies like to hire SEA students, train them in Japan for a yew years, before sending them back to their home country to take on senior positions. My company is thinking the same as well. Some, will stay in Japan to work for longer terms.

While this may not apply on every Malaysian students, the companies and general Japanese audiences are in awe of Malaysians' multilingual ability. We can, at least speak 3 languages: Malay, English, Japanese (we're studying in Japan after all), and some who're able to speak Chinese Mandarin too, made us versatile to adapt to work in different countries as we have lesser language barriers.

Our linguistic skills are highly valued here, and therefore I suggest for anyone out there, try to brush up your languages if you can, especially Bahasa Malaysia heh.

For now I shall leave it here with these 2 points.
Perhaps after working for awhile, I shall post my experience of working a few months later.

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