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Finding employment for international students

1. Finding employment for international students-required abilities

In recent years, Japanese companies have been expanding employment opportunities for international students in anticipation of their becoming work-ready forces in globalized business operations. Needs for human resources vary depending on companies’ different expectations for international students, and the needs of each company differ year to year according to changing business strategies and developments in the market environment.
For example, some companies recruit international students separately from Japanese students when they require individuals who are highly familiar with the information and language of a specific country or area for their overseas business development.
Some companies also choose to employ outstanding university graduates regardless of their nationality. In such cases, the companies conduct recruitment activities equally for both Japanese and international students. An increasing number of major Japanese companies have recently been taking on new workers in this way. Therefore, it is important for students to do thorough company and industry research in order to fully understand each company’s specific needs regarding human resources.

International students do, however, require a number of basic abilities. Language skills, for example, are considered essential, as it is important to be fluent in at least one foreign language in addition to Japanese. Solid basic academic abilities and high adaptability to different cultures are also required. For jobs in science-related fields, a certain degree of expertise is expected.

Although you will experience a similar job-hunting process to Japanese students, there are some points to note.

  1. Clarify your motivation for engaging with Japan, for example why and what you studied in Japan, and why you wish to work in Japan.
  2. Specify your future career plan. Are you going to work permanently in Japan or are you returning to your home country once you have equipped yourself with working skills and experience?
  3. Give considerable thought to the kind of work you wish to like to engage in.

It is vital that your wishes and abilities correspond with the needs and expectations of your employer. Be sure to conduct thorough research regarding the employment and working conditions of any company you consider joining.

The following is information that will help international students find employment in Japan. The Career Center offers a range of seminars and programs to support international students’ job-hunting activities.

2. Job hunting in Japan

You should conduct job-hunting activities with the understanding that the characteristics of employment in Japanese companies are different from those in foreign countries. The characteristics are as follows:

・Lifetime employment and seniority-based wages
Many Japanese companies essentially operate a lifetime employment system in an effort to aid the stable development of the company and promote job stability for employees. This system is grounded in the idea that it secures business continuity and enables better business judgement based on a long-term vision. Consequently, Japanese companies prefer to hire and train people who are just starting out in their career, with new graduates the main focus of their hiring strategy. In relation to lifetime employment, many Japanese companies still have a system of seniority-based wages to reward long service and encourage workers to remain with the company. Although it is true that changes have been occurring in such systems recently, the characteristics of employment clearly have an influence on company culture. Be sure to understand fully what kind of employment system operates at the company you are interested in working for.

・Job rotation
Many Japanese companies, alongside developing a program for training specialists in specific areas, have adopted a system called ‘job rotation’ where employees are assigned to different departments every few years according to their individual aptitudes and abilities. This comes from the idea that it is possible to cultivate human resources from a long-term perspective in association with the aforementioned lifetime employment system.

・Simultaneous recruitment of new graduates
Japanese companies that practice lifetime employment and in-house employee training usually hire new graduates at the same time each year. These companies hold recruitment examinations and make offers of employment while the potential employee is still in college, having them start work right after graduation. Due to this employment practice, a labor market for mid-career workers and job changers in Japan is smaller than that of other countries.

As a result of the system of simultaneous recruitment of new graduates, students’ job-hunting activities in Japan often follow a similar pattern in terms of methods, characteristics and schedules.

Job-hunting activities, which end with the acquisition of an offer of employment from a company, can take a long time (6 months to 1 year). The process includes ‘self-assessment’, ‘industry research’, ‘company research’, ‘submission of application form’ and ‘interview’. There is a specific application period for employment. Basically, in order for new graduates to enter a company in April, an application period and employment offer notification period are determined. (Recently, some companies hire employees in September or even throughout the year.) Another characteristic is that some Japanese companies offer various kinds of recruitment examinations on several occasions throughout the year.

International students requiring further information useful for job-hunting activities should refer to the following:

3. To obtain a job in Japan (preparation during university years)

To obtain a job in Japan, it is important to understand what Japanese companies require of international students. You should start considering your career plans as soon as you can while at university as careful preparations will need to be made.

・Enhance your Japanese language skills

Most Japanese companies require a high level of Japanese language ability as an employment condition for international students. You are strongly advised to spend time improving and strengthening your Japanese language ability during your time at university.

Take ‘Japanese Language’ subjects.

For details on Japanese Language subjects, please refer to the ‘Japanese Language Course’[PDF] (P15-19) booklet. As course requirements differ depending on the faculty and graduate school, please confirm at the office of the faculty or graduate school to which you belong. A variety of Japanese language subjects are offered, including Business Japanese, which started in 2015 as a regular subject. We recommend that you seriously consider taking such Japanese language courses.

Take the ‘Business Japanese Course’ offered by the Career Center.

For further information, please contact the Career Center.

・Learn about Japan

To start working in Japan, it is very important to familiarize yourself with the corporate culture and business practices in Japan. It is also necessary to make efforts to positively fit into the organization that you join. In this regard, it is of great help to have knowledge about Japanese society and culture, as well as the Japanese way of thinking.

Take ‘Japanese Studies’ subjects.

For details on Japanese Studies subjects, please refer to the‘Lecture Courses in Japanese Studies’[PDF] (P20-21) booklet. As course requirements differ depending on the faculty and graduate school, please confirm at the office of the faculty or graduate school to which you belong.

Take the ‘Japanese Corporate Research Program’ offered by the Career Center.

The Career Center’s Japanese Corporate Research Program provides information about the characteristics and work contents of Japanese companies. For further information, please contact the Career Center.

Positively engage in exchanges with Japanese people.

The Office of International Students offers the International Peer Support Program, which gives assistance and advice to international students in their academic and everyday life, as well as help deepen cross-cultural exchanges as a language-exchange partner. For further information, please contact the Office of International Students.

The Office of International Students offers a variety of opportunities in which both Japanese and international students can participate, lean about each other’s cultures and deepen their personal relationships. For further information, please see the website of the Office of International Students and the Facebook page of the International Center.

・Participate in the Internship programs.

Information about internships is posted on Doshisha University Career Support System website [e-career]. By joining a company through the internship program, you can understand and experience firsthand corporate culture and work contents, as well as business activities and practices in Japan.

4. Support from the Career Center

About Recruitment of International Students

The Career Center provides information about recruitment, on-campus employment seminars, companies, and job-hunting reports from former international students through the Career Support System website [e-career]. The Career Center receives many employment offers for international students at Doshisha University. Please be sure to make the most of this information.

Doshisha University Career Support System website [e-career]

About Guidance and Seminars for International Students

A lack of knowledge about the ways and schedules of job-hunting activities in Japan can lead to disappointing results due to insufficient preparation and a delayed start. The Career Center offers various programs to help international students gather important information about job-hunting activities, as well as deepen their understanding of Japanese companies. They include ‘Business Japanese Course’, ‘Job-Hunting Guidance’, ‘Japanese Corporate Research Program’, ‘On-campus Employment Seminar’, ‘Employment Application Form (Entry Sheet) Seminar’, and ‘Interview Preparation Seminar’. The center also holds seminars and events, such as the ‘Global Career Fair’, for both Japanese and international students who wish to play active roles in the global community.
Please check out the [e-career] website and the Career Center’s website, as well as campus bulletin boards, for news updates and additional information on guidance and seminars.

Individual Consultation

The Career Center also focuses on individual consultation, in which experienced advisors offer full assistance to students in their quest for employment tailored to their individual characteristics and requirements. In addition to general consultation, specially trained members of staff are in place to assist international students with their specific needs.
To better understanding what kind of employment international students are interested in and to offer more appropriate and effective support, the Career Center receives registrations of desired employment and career paths from international students. For international students who wish to work in Japan, please visit the Career Center.

5. About the Status of Residence

In order to work in Japan, international students need to change their status of residence from ‘College Student’ to the status that allows them to work, such as ‘Specialist in Humanities/ International Services’ and ‘Engineer’. To obtain a valid working visa, the screening process considers whether the work you are going to engage in is related to the academic field you studied at university, or if the work requires your mother tongue. If the employment conditions do not comply with the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act of Japan, a working visa may not be granted. You should thoroughly consult with the company offering you employment and make sure to take the necessary preparatory steps as early as possible.
Website of the Immigration Bureau of Japan

In case you cannot find employment by the time you graduate, you may apply to change your visa from ‘College Student’ to ‘Designated Activities’ to stay in Japan and continue job-hunting activities. This visa is valid for six months and may be renewed only once for a maximum of one year. For the required documents, please contact the Office of International Students.

6. Job-hunting Reports by International Students

H・J from Korea (obtained an employment offer from a trust bank)

“My four years at Doshisha University helped to shape me into ‘what I want to be’ in the future. Doshisha’s liberal school culture allowed me to develop ‘the ability to think for myself’ and clarify my future goals.
When I started job-hunting activities, I felt a little anxious about facing a job search in Japan as an international student. I think I regarded my being an international student as a kind of handicap. But this belief was wrong. As the world becomes increasingly globalized, a number of companies have been recruiting international students who are competent in intercultural communication. The Career Center at Doshisha University has a strong and well-developed support system to assist international students’ job-hunting activities. The center provides guidance and seminars for international students, and also gives advice on how to write an application form and so on, all factors that enable me to proceed with my job-hunting activities with confidence. I hope you can find the company that allows you to fulfill your potential by doing a thorough self-assessment and fully utilizing the university’s support systems.”

S・A from Russia (obtained an employment offer from an incorporated administrative agency)

Job hunting in Japan is not easy, but if you make adequate preparations you will certainly be successful. As a first step, you can utilize the Career Center’s job-hunting support system. A number of on-campus seminars organized by the center will provide information on various business fields and industries before you actually start job hunting, offering you a good opportunity to broaden or narrow down your job options. I participated in such seminars more than fifteen times. I also visited the Career Center on several occasions to consult on how to fill in a job application form. In addition, I was introduced to other job-search support services besides Doshisha’s, action that provided me with further information on effective job hunting in Japan.
When I look back on my job-hunting activities, self-assessment was the most important factor. I think knowing about what you are and when you feel happy and satisfied is vital for finding the best job for you. From several offers, I finally chose the company where I thought I would be able to best express my strengths while at the same time working for self-fulfillment. I hope you will find the company that best suits you by focusing your efforts on self-assessment.

Z・Y from China (obtained an employment offer from an IT company)

“While studying at Doshisha University I could also learn a lot about Japan’s culture and people through an enjoyable part-time job that I had. While job hunting, the biggest challenge I faced as an international student was writing a resume and an application form in Japanese. I had a hard time writing exactly what I wanted to say in good Japanese. However, as Japanese is not my mother tongue, I realized that I didn’t have to write ‘perfect’ Japanese. Instead, it is more important to convey what I want to say. I think that the best way for writing a successful resume is to show what you wrote to as many Japanese people as possible and take note of their feedback. Doshisha University provides a very good support system to international students. The Career Center staff was very enthusiastic and dedicated, and helped us overcome any problems and worries during the job-hunting activities.
Among the companies which gave me a job offer, I chose a global company with a good workplace atmosphere. It was appealing that the company treats all employees fairly and equally regardless of their nationality. My advice to international students wishing to find a job in Japan is to never give up and to keep on challenging yourself with a good and positive spirit.”

7. Website links for international students