How different is recruitment in Japan from the U.S?

Updated: May 21, 2021

There are many cultural differences between Japan and the United States, but there are also many differences in job hunting.

First of all, regarding the recruitment of new graduates in Japan, the recruitment activities of companies start all at once from March 1st. In the United States, on the other hand, there is no clear time to start. Students who are about to graduate or have already graduated apply to the company at their own pace, and the company basically conducts recruitment activities throughout the year.

Therefore, Japanese companies seek people with high potential and who can grow in the future, while in the United States, they are required to demonstrate their skills immediately.

It also makes a strong difference in where the students pay attention when they look for jobs and companies to work for. In Japan, the majors in universities are not so important, and it is a unique characteristic that the selection is open for various students. How prestige the university is and whether you are a new graduate student or not are very important.

However, in the United States, what students major at their universities is important. The jobs in the financial industry are more advantageous to students who major in economics, and the jobs in the educational industry are more advantageous to those who major in education. Therefore, whether you are a new graduate and from the elite universities or not are not as important as in Japanese companies. Also, in the United States, "educational background" often refers to a degree or major rather than a university's name. People often say that it is difficult to find a job if you study the humanities such as Literature and Psychology, unlike Science and Economics. In fact, because I am majoring in Sociology, I was once told from a friend of mine that I had no choice but to teach or write a book in the future.

So how do these students develop their experience and abilities to find jobs?

In the United States, many students apply for internships while still in school. Unlike internships in Japan, most American internships work for a long term like three months or more, which students acquire experiences and skills that will be useful in the future.

Also, what is said to be important for getting a job in the United States is to "stand out". This is a unique culture in the United States, but it also has something to do with job hunting. This is because, basically, in the United States, unlike Japan, where many students for marketing positions are hired, it is common to recruit vacant positions at that time, and they do not hire many people. Therefore, if you cannot appeal how you are better than other candidates and whether you are more suitable for the job than them, you will not be hired.

It is important to differentiate the application documents called resumes and cover letters from other candidates and devise a format to let the recruiters your experience about the type of job you applied for, and abilities to gain an advantage.

As social media has been developed recently, building a network becomes more important. It is said that at least 60% of jobs can be found on such networks in the United States, connecting with recruiters on social media such as LinkedIn, checking the information they send and interviewing them. By doing so, you can proceed with the recruiting process in an advantageous manner. This trend is accelerating due to the pandemic, and it seems that it is becoming more important to participate in career fairs and interviews by making full use of online networks. In Japan as well, it seems that the number of students who make full use of social media to make use of corporate research is increasing. According to Mynavi's Newly Graduates Lifestyle Survey, 64.5% of graduating undergraduates and graduate students answered that they would like to use social media with their real names, an increase by approximately 8% from the previous year. However, it seems that the trend of using social media for job hunting is accelerating due to the pandemic. Unlike the United States, only 27.2% of students answered that the reason for using social media is to connect with recruiters, and the main usage method was browsing company websites (82.9%). However, as job hunting goes online, the number of job-seeking students who want to have connections with human resources personnel may increase in Japan as well as corporate research on social media.


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