Accompanying this subculture is its own special vocabulary. Here are the first five of eleven words you ought to know when venturing into the Japanese job market, and what they mean:
Often abbreviated as 就活, this is the word epitomizing the subculture described above. Literally "activities for finding employment," when you are on the cusp of graduating from university (or for some, high school), 就活 is your full-time job. All you do, night and day, is schedule seminars, handwrite resumes, practice interviewing, and study for company entrance exams. It's a portal Japanese are accustomed to, akin to the 受験生 feeling of junior high school students progressing on to high school, or high school students progressing on to university.
A "large enterprise," these are the massive brand names in Japan, like Sony or Toyota, and for most Japanese, the dream job that everyone wants to get a hold of. For the most part, 大手企業 still uphold traditional Japanese practices of lifetime employment, and a job-seeker who gets accepted at one of these companies will be set for life: Banks, creditors, realtors, car dealers, and future in-laws will welcome you with outstretched arms if the second line on your business card bears an 大手企業 name. (All this does come in exchange for long working hours and unwavering devotion to the company).
Meaning "hiring" and "applying" respectively, 募集 is the term Japanese firms use to indicate they're offering jobs and 応募 is the term job-seekers use to say they'd like to apply for jobs. A polite phrase to add to your resume and interviews, after stating the reason for your application, is 「是非応募させていただきたいと思います」.
Means "self analysis." Before you start applying for jobs, have a good handle on who you are and what your aims are in your job search and beyond. In a competitive job market, with many, many more college graduates than available positions at large companies, recruiters place a lot of emphasis on finding all-star applicants who have done plenty of "self analysis" and provide substance in their resume and interviews, rather than parroting the same "I'm a hard worker, and my weakness is that I'm a perfectionist" fluff everyone else already says.
When addressing a company in a message or interview, use these words: Not 「あなたの会社」, nor 「Name of Company」, but one of these. (Either is fine, but I hear 御社 more often in interviews and 貴社 more often in written correspondence.) It makes you sound professional, and a foreign face equipped with these words will garner surprised smiles and nods of approval from interviewers.
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