Job Hunting in 2019 in Japan for International Students

Job hunting in Japan is likely very different than other countries. Continue reading to learn what to expect as an international student or job seeker from overseas to find a company and career you are passionate about in Japan.


You will see the term “new graduates” or "shinsotsu" often when starting to apply to job openings in Japan. This refers to:

1. someone who has recently graduated from university, graduate school, and vocational schools, and

2. someone who is seeking full-time employment for the first time.

Most companies in Japan recruit new graduates. Depending on the size of the company, they will hire a large number of new graduates. This generally occurs during a student's third year at a university or while students are still studying.

For example, students who will graduate in March 2020 will start their job hunting in March 2019. This is quite earlier compared to other countries. Students in Japan who graduate in March and have secured jobs begin working in early April. Please note that the school year in Japan students generally starts at university and vocational schools in April. Graduation occurs in March.


In addition to math, Japanese, English, and other written examinations, and examinations including Japanese essays created by Japanese companies are often part of the exam. Make sure to find out if these tests are required for the position you are applying to so you can do the appropriate preparation and studying.

When considering Japanese companies to apply for, be sure to look into work culture and the employment structure. In general, most companies will have some sort of "seishain" (regular, salaried employee with benefits) and also compensation that increases with seniority.

You may have heard of Japan's "lifetime employment," which refers to the style in which a person is employed by the same company from graduation until retirement age. This person would be a seishain, or regular employee.

Although this is not clearly stated within employment contracts under normal circumstances, it has customarily been expected in Japan that new recruits and companies agree to this. However, it is possible and legal to quit your job early or make a career change.

Be sure to read and understand your job contract. Lifetime employment at Japanese companies is changing as the economy has become less stable and people can work more flexibly than before.

Another unique aspect of companies is a seniority-based compensation system. In this system, employees' pay increases in accordance with the number of years they have worked for the company and their age.

The system is based on the notion that employees will accumulate work skills and know-how the longer they work for the company and the older they get. It is thought that these skills and know-how will be reflected back on the company performance in the long run. However, companies that use performance-based system are increasing in Japan.

Reference Job Hunting Guide for International Students | JASSO

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