Help! I’m looking for a job in Japan after JET, how should I go about it?
I took the time recently to interview some of our current employees about their life after JET and how they went about their job search. Here is a summary of their tips and hints:
Think about your motivations. Why are you staying on in Japan, how long are you planning to stay and what type of working environment do you want to work in? What do you want to get out of your career in Japan? Is it to improve your Japanese? Is it to make money? Maybe you are looking to explore more of Japanese culture and are keen to gain some corporate work experience in Japan. One of our consultants had a long term goal of wanting to work in client sales / client facing role and wanted to learn more about technology. She is now a Consultant on our IT desk. If you are just looking for a job to stay in Japan, working in recruitment may not be right for you. There are far less stressful jobs! It is a target driven environment so you have to be passionate about the recruitment industry. Also start your research earlier than you think and make sure to keep an open mind on different careers. Chat to former JETs or expats in Tokyo who are working in a field that you are interested in. Once you have made the decision to leave, use those last 8 or 9 months on your JET contract to up-skill yourself to be more marketable (take the JLPT test). If you are looking to get into finance, maybe study for the CFA. Whatever career you decide, chat to people either in Japan or back home who work in that industry to give you some insight on the pros and cons of the job.
Most of our employees said the same thing – it’s a people role, the chance to interact with others and meet influential business professionals face to face. If you have worked in a corporate environment before JET, you may be able to leverage your previous skills/knowledge and recruit in that sector (i.e. you used to work in finance in M&A or as a trader, you could then work as a Consultant on the Front Office desk). You are not stuck in the office all day. You visit different companies, meet clients face to face and you are building core skills in sales. It’s also the excitement of the unknown. Too much stability in your job can be boring. In recruitment, you can progress your career quite quickly if you are willing to put in the hard work. It’s up to you to put the effort in to make money and build a professional network in Japan. You get to learn more about how business works in Japan in both Japanese companies as well as foreign companies operating in Japan.
Google! Read blogs on the benefits of working in recruitment and what to expect. Read first hand testimonials of what it is like working in Tokyo on different online forums – keep in mind that it is their own personal opinion. Research all different types of recruitment firms in Japan: look at big global brands, local firms as well as boutique recruitment firms. Visit their company website. Look at their YouTube videos (if they have them). Read Glassdoor reviews. Read industry specific blogs on the sector you want to recruit into. Talk to friends already working in recruitment in Tokyo – who do they rate as good recruitment firms to work for if you don’t have any previous recruitment experience. Connect with people working in recruitment on LinkedIn. But most of all, make sure that you do as many face to face interviews with recruitment firms in Tokyo. You can only learn so much about the company culture, working environment and what it is really like to work there from researching online. Go with your gut! If you have liked everyone during the interview process and the recruitment firm is clear on what they can offer you with regards to training, what desk they want you to work on, the team and you feel that you will get on well with your Manager, then it sounds like the right opportunity for you. Be prepared that you may need to do a practical assessment as part of the interview process. You might be cold calling new candidates or calling current candidates on the company database to get an update on what types of jobs they are looking for or maybe having to pitch to a consultant as to why they should meet your candidate for a job they are working on.
It was a blur. Training, lots of learning, the learning curve is pretty steep. Learning the fundamentals of what happens in a recruitment cycle as well the market trends happening in your desk/sector. The manager will set targets for you so you know how you should structure your day and how your performance will be measured. At Morgan McKinley, all the members of our senior leadership get involved in training new joiners, so you get the chance to learn from experienced consultants. The training is tailor made to you. Collectively, they have 78 years worth of agency recruitment experience! You will be observing consultants interviewing candidates over the phone and face to face in our office as well as attending client meetings. You will be doing mock interviews on how to interview candidates and roles plays with the consultants on how to headhunt/cold call candidates over the phone.
You will have tough days. You will face rejection, people not being interested in talking to you and just hanging up the phone, being rude or unhelpful, or candidates backing out of an interview process at the last minute when the interview has already been agreed with the client... Recruitment is a fast paced environment and your to-do list will never disappear so learning about time management and making the most efficient use of your time is essential. Recruitment is not a fast way to make lots of money. It takes time to build a network and build connections. The most successful recruitment consultants I know started to make commission consistently after 12 months.
Again, most of our employees said the same thing. It’s not just a job. It is more like running your own mini business and being a knowledge expert in your area of the market. They love that they are meeting people face to face, having an impact on someone’s life by helping them land their dream job or helping a client to find the next leader in their business. They like that they get a lot of autonomy in their role and own their own schedule.
If you would like to learn more, please get in touch with me, Anouska Serich, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist.