Wednesday, December 01, 2010

11 Useful Vocabulary in Your Job Search (Part 2 of 2)

Knowing just a few particular terms can double your readiness to tackle a professional job search in Japan.

Continuing from our last post about job-search vocabulary, here are six more words that you ought to know as you embark to find work outside of ESL:

The Japanese equivalent for "resume." Japanese resumes have a standard format, including your contact information, full educational history, a photo, and sometimes things Westerners find surprising, like a list of relatives, their birth dates, and their current occupations. Traditionally, a 履歴書 is supposed to be handwritten.

This is your "self promotion," or a 60-second blurb about what you want to do in the workplace and why your background makes you qualified for this job. You'll write it on your resumes, and you should know it by heart so you can say it (naturally) as your self-introduction at the beginning of interviews. This should be re-written and tailored for every job you apply to.

Closely tied to the above, your "motivation for working" should establish that you understand what this job/company is all about and you're excited by the idea of working there. There is a lot of crossover between the 自己PR and 志望動機 of job-seekers, but in principle, your "self promotion" should be telling about your skills and how they match the job, and your "motivation for working" should show that you know about the company and that your goals are in line with its. This should also be re-written and tailored for every job you apply to.

"Aptitude tests" are common among Japanese recruiters to weed out some of the hundreds or thousands of applications they may receive each year. The idea is that if you didn't bother studying for an aptitude test about kanji and math encountered in the business world, they're not going to bother considering you for a job. As a foreign applicant, you may be exempted from some of these; companies considering you for employment usually have a special project in mind for you, which they'll find out if you're capable of through resumes and interviews. However, you may still be asked to take a truncated version of an aptitude test or a personality test. Bookstores in Japan carry shelves of books about what kind of vocab you should know for these tests, what kind of story problems are commonly encountered on the math sections, and what kind of trip-up questions companies throw into the personality test to make sure you're not lying. (It's not always as simple as "T/F: I have never told a lie before.")

The Japanese word for "interview." If you made it past the resume screening and aptitude testing, you'll go in for one of these. They can take any of several forms, including group interviews (three or four applicants against a panel of interviewers), one-on-one, or you alone against a handful or a roomful of your future superiors. Japanese interviews tend to come in multiples, with each interview being numbered in succession: 1次面接, 2次面接, etc. Each level of interview will be with someone higher up in the organization, the final often being with the president. Two to four interviews for a job were my most common numbers, but I've heard stories of companies having up to 8次面接 for Japanese applicants.

Roughly equivalent to "job offer," this is the payoff for all your hard work. After the final interview, a letter is issued to you stating that the company is extending 内定 to you. You'll need to reply with a letter of thanks, and accept the 内定 by completing some final procedures, such as taking a health exam (健康診断) and signing commitment (誓約書) and guarantor (身元保証書) forms. It is not uncommon for a Japanese company to conclude their hiring process and notify successful applicants six months or even a year before the starting date of the job. Which means: start your job search early, way before you intend to move into a new job.

We hope this series of articles has been useful for job seekers. If you have any other job hunting terms you'd like to add or ask about, please leave a comment below.

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