I have already written about the job hunting process for students in Japan elsewhere. Although there is still a good ten months to go before the young women I am teaching graduate, some of them have already got jobs lined up. One will be working as a flight attendant, another will be employed by a media-related company in Tôkyô. It is with the latter, whom I'll call Jun-chan, that I put the above diagram together, retracing the steps she went through to land the job.
The process began at the start of the year. Students who are after the more competitive positions in the airline industry will have started their search the preceding autumn.
From January to May, Jun-chan attended what can be roughly translated as "explanatory meetings" where the companies that are hiring give presentations that explain their company philosophy, employment needs, and hiring procedure. Jun attended twenty such meetings.
From February on she sent out hand written applications, called "entry sheets". Of the five she sent out, she heard back from three different companies with formal invitations to take SPI (Synthetic Personality Inventory) tests. I have not yet met a single student who was confident she had done well on any of these tests. But that's the nature of tests in Japan. They're not designed to test what one understands, but rather to eliminate applicants, narrowing down the field candidates that will be called in for an interview.
Although Jun-chan took the SPI at three different companies, only one company invited her back for an initial interview. Most companies seem to favor the group discussion method of interviewing candidates in the first round. I find this very Japanese. How better to ascertain whether a potential employee is a team-player than by observing how they function within a group. It's also a more efficient way to meet a large number of candidates over a limited amount of time.
Having passed that stage, Jun was then asked to come in for an individual interview. By mid May, almost 11 months before the applicant will start working, the company had made its decision and invited my student in for a final, casual interview, and what must be the Japanese equivalent of a hand-shake.
Having successfully run the gauntlet of tests and interviews, Jun-chan received a formal notice of employment in late May and is now able to kick back and enjoy the rest of the school year. Although she won't actually begin working until April of 2012, she will be invited to take part in training sessions and other events next winter. I wish her all the best.