Japanese corporate human resources management insight : Job application

In this chapter, we are going to talk about  Japanese Human development way mainly in the Japanese job application system which is one of the 5 important items other than cultivating a teamwork mindset, X, Y, X theory for employee management, Human Resources management, and Japanese management. 

Japanese job application

The difference in job applications between Japanese and Thai is seasonal recruitment. Most of the Japanese companies will recruit employees’ batch by batch which is the same as student applications. This pattern helps the company to easily create a proper and effective recruiting and developing plan for each employee career path. Most companies also have a lifetime-hiring policy or as known as Japanese word; 終身雇用 – Shushinkoyo.    

Most Japanese companies open for recruiting only once a year. Some are twice a year. The recruiting process takes about 1 year and a half to 2 years. So, Japanese university students start “Apply-for-job activity” or as known as “就職活動- shukoku-katsudo” since the second semester of the third year or at least the first semester of the fourth year in order to get the job in April or immediately after they graduated.

There is a recruiting limitation for each university. For example, A company gives 50 vacancies for T university. The student competition begins because no matter what faculty they are in, only 50 persons can get in the company. This makes Japanese society give importance in getting into a good and famous university. Some people miss their expected university and keep studying for a few years without applying for other universities in order to get into their desired university which will increase their chance to work with a famous company because of those recruiting quota. However, this competition rate is reduced because of the low Japanese birth rate. 

The first step starts from the company advertisement at universities whether as organize the seminar at the university or in the conference room to let students know the company information and they can ask the in-detail questions from the staff. When students decide to apply and work at the company until retirement, they need to know the company profile as much as possible.

The second step will be starting to receive a job application. Japanese society prefers the application to be filled in by handwriting than computer typing except for the IT job which tends to favor the computer type. The Japanese still, believe handwriting can show a person's attitude. Apart from filling in the job application, the applicants must attach their lifestyle essay which needs to be in the same strict pattern according to Japanese job application culture.       

After that, the candidate will take the exam. In case of the famous company with a lot of applicants, candidates may take 3 - 4 exams and one time for a small company. Then the next step will be an interview. As for the same process, it may be a few times for a famous company. The first round is usually a small group meeting that lets candidates select their group and talk to each other on a given topic and the recruiting team will record the applicant's behavior and their attitude to find the best and proper person for the company. It will be more difficult in the next round until the final round, which is the interview with the management team.    

From the company exhibit at universities, send job applications, taking exams, interviews until knowing who passed all the tests. This takes around 1 and a half years to 2 years. It is pressured and stressful for both the mental and physical of candidates. Job application seems like one of a holy ritual for Japanese society and makes Japanese people do not want to resign or change the job if it is not necessary because they do not want to face this holy and cruel ceremony and waste their 1 - 2 years. Japanese society is good at controlling the turn-over rate compared to Thailand who rapidly changes jobs.  

Japanese companies tend to hire a person with growing potential rather than a current talented person because a lifetime hiring is not about finding only a talented or gifted person but also an optimistic and open-to-learn-new-things attitude person to grow with the company. This makes the Japanese candidate selection hard to understand due to the fact that they do not look for the current performance of candidates. Moreover, after being employees, they will not be specialists as commonly found in Thailand (a person who is good at only their majority) but Japanese companies will let employees be generalists who are ready to learn new things and new jobs. So, a person with learning anything ability is a favorite type of Japanese company. They often rotate their employees to other departments and not relating to their majority graduate. For example, journalism graduates but working in the IT department, engineering with public relations and humanity with an accountant.    

Why is that? The answer is Japanese lifetime hiring system has to plan employees' career paths to be one of the management teams. So, the company needs employees with overall organization knowledge. This is why Japanese companies favor a high performance with learning potential rather than a talented person but cannot improve their second or third skills.  Also, this is how transferring knowledge in the company as a Knowledge Management system is very effective. This delivery is from one generation to another and it never stops. Also, a new generation is recruited every year which creates a combination of new and old generation worlds to increase the strength of the organization to compete with other companies. This is how a network of generation bonds and works more effectively than other countries. 


By Veerayuth Pojsatheankul

International relationship human resource development specialist, Old Japan Students Association Professor, Translator, Public Speaker