VIDEO: Student Film on Japan's Ruthless Job Hunt Goes Viral

Finding a job in today's tough economy is hard. But for Japanese college students, the country's ultra-competitive recruitment process or “shu-katsu” which starts a year or more before graduation, takes things to a whole new level.

Recruitment Rhapsody, an emotional short animated film that captures the rigid and obstacle-ridden job hunt process Japanese students must endure has gone viral with more than 350,000 views.

The film by art student Maho Yoshida [ja] was uploaded to YouTube on March 9, 2013 and illustrates a regular carefree university student who suddenly finds herself struggling to find a job among a crowd of focused, competitive, and uniformly dressed sycophants.

YouTube user afas afsa looked back to his days of job hunting in this comment [ja]:

afas afsa:
ああこんな感じだったなあ 不気味な就活生の一員になるのは嫌だったけど、内定が無いのも嫌­だった

Oh, I remember I used to be like this. I hated being a part of the crowd of job-hunters, but I also hated having no job offers. I tried not to make any mistakes, so as not to be laughed at…just do as everyone else does. I was reduced to that condition by the dreadful job search. I wonder how many talented young people must be labeled incompetent and are heart-broken, just because they “lack job-hunting skills”.

While youth unemployment in Japan is not as bad as most of the developed world, most commenters were worried that the rigid social structure, not the economy, made the recruiting process competitive and complex:

Bad Apple:

If the only way to gain recognition from society is to conceal your true self, then the structure of society must be rotten in the first place, right?


If this is what the social structure of Japan is like, what must the rest of the world think when they see this?

photo by Dick Thomas Johnson (CC BY 2.0)

Students at a recruiting company's briefing session.
Photo by Dick Thomas Johnson (CC BY 2.0) taken on December 11, 2011


I feel a sense of restriction in Japanese society today, as if I were trapped inside a greenhouse. In the future in Japan, I feel that there should be a time in which you can express yourself as a human being. Thank you for uploading the video, it was very interesting.

However some commenters disagreed that the recruiting system crushed individuality:


Let's think about the meaning of a “job”. If I'm paying you a salary, it's not because I want to restrain you. People who can produce their own profits do not need to belong to a company. The “work, and get money for each minute worked” type of job doesn't exist anymore. Even if it will not happen for a few years, if there are people who will generate profits for the company in the future, the company will employ them. You and the company are equal.


I think this video is well-done. But I doubt the wisdom of the “Job-hunting is so ridiculous!” type of comments. In school, the examinations were uniform, and you had to tailor yourself to the standard. Isn't it the same case for society?
The same basic manners of society are required for job-hunting students (it would be odd to go to the job interview with long hair, or dyed hair). Nevertheless, you can still develop your individuality beyond the basic [recruitment] etiquette.

YouTube user posaburo went a step further and suggested that students need to think out of the box:

“模範解答のある社会から、模範解答の無い社会に出るにあたって戸­惑う学生。 就活にあたって「こうしなければ」と思っている時点で「模範解答­社会=学校」から

Since students are only taught the “correct answers” while at school, these students are confused when they have to confront the real world, without definite answers. While job-hunting, they are thinking that they must act upon “correct answers”, and they still are not able to escape from the school mentality. You can't do business simply by imitating what other people do, right?

Comments were translated by Andrew Kowalczuk


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