Japan: In Choosing a Job (or Company)

With limited work experience, how does one make the decision on which company to work for straight out of university? The question carries more weight when there's a good chance that person might spend their entire career there.

In the past, Global Voices has written about how a Japanese university student typically goes about finding a job, and the issues that this system has raised as times change.

Game analyst and consultant Hisakazu Hirabayashi offers his thoughts on a more personal level – for when a student starts contemplating what companies to consider for job hunting. The post is titled On having a restricted perspective in choosing a company to work for (狭い視野でしか選べない就職希望企業) [ja].

Note: The post was translated in its entirety with permission from the blogger. All links were added by Tomomi Sasaki for reference.

This weekend, a colleague asked me to give career advice for their son and daughter. They wanted to work in the game industry but were not sure how to proceed.

The two students had already compiled a list of companies where they would like to work. Criteria for these choices were simple:
1. Companies that sold the sort of games they were personally interested in
2. Well known companies with an established reputation
3. Companies that were in a good financial state

I predict a major upheaval in the next few years for not just the game industry but the media and IT industries on a whole. I did my best to convince them that to base one’s choice on the three criteria above would most certainly not be wise and practically begged for them to broaden their perspective.

One big reason for my prediction is that terrestrial analog broadcasting will cease in July 2011, which will mean the broadbandization of mobile communication…. but this kind of talk didn't resonate at all.

It just wasn't relavant to them. They loved games and had come to me for insight on breaking into the game industry but I was a “weird person” that talked about how the laws were changing.

At times like this, the situation become clearer when I use examples. No offence to the people working at this company!

This is the question I'd ask: “Okay, think back to 5 years ago. Do you know which company topped the list of desired employers for university students in 2005?”

Neither parents nor students can answer this question right away. When I tell them the answer is Japan Airlines, they understand immediately what I'm trying to say.

The danger of making decisions based on what one knows. The obvious fact that the world changes.

And it's not just 2005. It depends on the surveys but JAL was always listed as a favorite. Now, they're a company that filed for bankrupcy under the Corporate Rehabilitation Law.

Oh why is it that Japanese university students look only to the past and the present, become anxious about respectability and oddly stability-oriented? (I was this way as well.)

First imagine what the future will be like and work back from there, to think about desirable work styles and environments. They've never gone through this experience.

Students alone can't be held responsible. I feel this is a passage of rite that's much more important for a 20 year old than celebrating Coming of Age Day.

Thanks to Ziggy Okugawa for helping with the translation.

1 comment

  • Just a couple of points. I remember my first job out of college, and I didn’t look at it as the first step on a career, but rather simply a chance to get some experience in a field in which I was broadly interested.

    I also think it was more about gaining skills that one does not necessarily have as a college student. Learning how to work with others, be more accountable (as you are getting paid), networking, etc.

    However, if this person is focused on only working in the gaming industry, who is to say any of the 3 companies are even hiring? Sometimes it may mean taking a non-paid internship where one can learn how the company works and if and when they do hire, then the supervisors will already know the person.

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