Young and Global need not apply


I found this article on Japanese companies that are reluctant to hire Japanese new grads from overseas universities. Read the article. This may be true especially today because Japan has struggled with stagnant economy for over two decades now. When I graduated from American University in 2003, most of my Japanese school mates returned to Japan for Shukatsu (the word for Shushoku Katudo-job hunting) Since many Japanese corporations prefer to hire new graduates, my friends started applying for the companies and returned to Japan to go to the invited interviews..I didn’t bother to do that because i knew that it wasn’t what I wanted to do..No bragging..but the American college we attended is considered “prestigious” (somewhat) in Japan and most importantly, it is well known so Japanese kids were extremely eager to transfer there from the community college because of job prospects. Back then, the economy was still ok and all of my friends did find some type of jobs in Japanese companies and went home immediately after graduation. But according to this article, Japanese companies interview these kids from foreign universities with cautions and reluctance. I am surprised to hear this because these young people should be fluent in English (I hope) by the time they graduate, and also have extensive exposure to the Western culture so it would be perfect for Japanese companies trying to expand their business globally. At the same time, these kids probably stay in America, for example, no more than five-six years total so they are also very familiar with Japanese language and tradition, so that combination could have been the greatest assets for the Japanese companies..but I guess many recruiters of large Japanese companies don’t view it that way anymore.

Tokyo-Ronan Sato, a graduate student in applied statistics at Oxford, has always been keep to work in his native Japan. But at a careers fair for overseas Japanese students, he found that corporate Japan did not return his enthusiasm. In meetings with a handful of Japanese financial trading firms at the forum in Boston last November, none would offer him a job without further interviews in Tokyo. So Mr. Sato, who received three offers on the top from non-Japanese corporations, accepted a position in Tokyo with a big British bank. “I really wanted to gain experience at a Japanese company, but they seemed cautious,” he said. “Do Japanese companies really want global talent? It seemed to me like they’re not really serious.”

Notoriously insular, corporate Japan has long been wary of embracing Western-educated compatriots who return home. But critics say the reluctance to tap the international experience of these young people is a growing problem for Japan as some of its major industries-like banking, consumer electronics and automobiles-lose ground in an increasingly global economy.

Discouraged by their career prospects if they study abroad, even at elite universities, a shrinking portion of Japanese college students is seeking higher education in the West. At the same time, Japan’s regional rivals, including China, South korea and India, are sending increasing numbers of students overseas-many of whom, upon graduation, are snapped up by companies back home for their skills, contacts and global outlooks. “Japanese companies here are missing out on the best foreign talent, and it’s all their fault,” said Toshihiko Irisumi, a graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and former Goldman Sachs banker. He runs Alpha Leaders, a Tokyo-based consulting firm that helps match young talent with employers based in Japan. “They really need to change their mind-set.”What is more, Japanese students who study overseas often find that by the time they enter the job hunt back home, they are far behind compatriots who have already contacted as many as 100 companies and received help from extensive alumni networks. And those who spend too long overseas find they are shut out by rigid age preferences for graduates no older than their mid-20s. In a survey of 1,000 Japanese companies taken last June on their recruitment plans for the March 2012 fiscal year by the Tokyo-based recruitment company Disco, fewer than a quarter said they planned to hire Japanese applicants who had studied abroad. Even among top companies with more than a thousand exmployees, less than 40 percent said they wanted to hire Japanese with overseas education.

the number sutdying abroad has declined from a peak of nearly 83,000 in 2004 to fewer than 60,000 in 2009-the most recent year for which the figures are available from the organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But the environment in Japan is such that if you go overseas to study, you have to be prepared to go your own route, find your own way. Ryutaro Sakamoto, who paid his way through the University of Toronto and returned to Japan at age 30 with a business degree, found he was too old to apply through standard recruitment programs. He sent resumes to the likes of Panasonic and Sony, anyways, but never heard back. Eventually, the Japanese unit of the American insurance company Prudential was happy to put his bilingual skills to use.

His advice to returnees: don’t be too assertive or ask too many questions. He now says he would never work for a Japanese company. U-Shin, an auto parts maker, attracted attention in February when it placed a prominent ad in Japan’s largest business daily offering twice the normal starting pay to candidates with overseas degrees. We plan to expand aggressively overseas, so we need recruits who were themselves bold enough to go overseas. Some returners play down their exposure to Western ways. I made sure to emphasize that I would still fit in

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