Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on May 14th, 2008
Hi Blog. Feedback from a reader about prospects of finding work in Japan as a NJ despite graduation from a J university. According to the author, barriers are put up at the entry level all over again to prefer native candidates–or at least how they get tested by IQ. Read on:
Hello Debito. I am a reader of your blog since I came to Japan the second time in September 2006. I am a Master’s student at [an extremely prestigious Japanese university] and do research on “national identity” in Japan. That is why I was interested in your homepage in the first place.
But now I feel discriminated the first time and wanted to ask you for some advice.
I started searching for a job in Japan because I will graduate next year but I want to stay in Japan. I started as early as the japanese students, visited countless fairs and setsumeikai, and bought all the expensive books on business fields, tests and self analysis. In short – I didn’t do anything wrong. But now all my J friends have a job contract and I still don’t what is extremely frustrating. Because I put more effort into it then most of them and I don’t think I am less smart, but still I did not get even one serious offer.
The reason for this is a stupid old fashioned IQ test like test which is quite the same at each company. It is not so difficult but the time limit for each problem is very strict, which is a major disadvantage for NJ graduates. Once I did the test in English at ONE out of 35 companies which provided the same test in English for NJ applicantsand passed easily, although English is NOT my mother language. I am German.
(I failed at the second interview though. Partly because I was inexperienced and nervous. It was my first and last opportunity for an interview)
I think this test is extremely unfair against all NJ, because it needs far much more preparation than for J students to master it and even then you have less chances to pass. In other words, even with the best preparation it’s a gamble.
It would be much better for the students (and the companies who waste talent) to provide the test in English and add an extra test for the Japanese abilities of NJ students. The English test for the J students is quite meaningless because its far too easy (I finished it 10 min. before the time was over and had everything right). But it is not enough to compensate the lack of speed reading skills in Japanese which need 12+ years of J education system.
I think if Japan wants to keep the students who studied here and want to contribute something to Japan’s society they should think these recruiting practices over, or they will loose well educated brain power in a world wide competition.
Anonymous (who is serously thinking about going to the US or back to Europe…)
COMMENT: When I got my first non-Eikaiwa job in Japan (back in 1989), I too had to take an IQ test–the same one meted out to regular entrants, and in Japanese. Well, I failed–after only a couple of years of classroom and street study, my Japanese wasn’t good enough yet. So the boss administered other tests, such as having me read the newspaper aloud etc, making it a language test. Up to that point, I had been trained more in Japanese the Spoken Language (Eleanor Jorden’s text), not written, so I didn’t do well enough for him again. He was about to deny me the job when I did what I do best–talk persuasively in Japanese. I convinced him the test wasn’t representative of my real abilities nor would it reflect accurately upon what I could do for his company. I passed that test, as I got hired, and from that point on became much better in Japanese working for a year at an intern in a software company. But this was Bubble Japan (and companies were looking for ways to “internationalize” themselves; plus I took a big pay cut), and I clearly got far more rope to explain my way into a job than the above author, who has far more ability and experience (and a degree from a world-class Japanese university) yet got stopped for lack of “measurable IQ”.
This is an issue that deserves attention, so others with experience should feel welcome to comment. For in the poster’s view (and mine), these sorts of barriers only hurt Japan when educated candidates want to stay and contribute. Arudou Debito in Sapporo