Dos & don'ts of job search etiquette in Japan

Check out tips on the dos and don’ts of job search etiquette in Japan and what you should do to ensure you nail it from first impression till the job offer.

For many of us, the term “etiquette” might bring to mind ideas about the right way to set a table or make introductions at a formal dinner party. But the dos and don'ts of decorum also apply within a much different realm – that of job search. In Japan, potential employers consider attitude and professional etiquette heavily when evaluating candidates.

Here are some guidelines on job search etiquette in Japan to help you find – and land – a coveted position in a Japanese company.

Do research the company

  • Find out as much as you can about the organisation before the interview.
  • Check out the firm's website for its mission statement and goals, as well as the business' past financial performance.
  • Read analyst ratings, scan the company's annual report or search for media coverage.
  • If possible, talk to someone who currently works at the organisation or has worked there in the past.
  • Your research helps you at every stage of a Japanese job search process. By using this information to help you prepare your cover letter and questions for the interview, you demonstrate initiative and convey your interest and enthusiasm in joining the company.

Do remember the art of written etiquette

  • Your CV and covering letter make a powerful first impression – one that ultimately decides whether you advance to the interview stage.
  • Take the time to customise your cover letter.
  • After an interview, promptly send a thank-you note. It's a courteous, formal gesture that has a lasting impact.
  • Don't play the "cat and mouse" game with salary.
  • Give an honest answer, if the job requirements have been outlined it's in your best interest
  • Being evasive or naming an unrealistic figure (if the topic of salary comes up earlier in the process) can harm your credibility.
  • Do your homework before you arrive at the first interview by researching salary levels in your industry.
  • To determine starting salaries for jobs comparable to the one at hand, check with industry associations or staffing agencies.

Do give the best first impression possible

  • Arrive 15 minutes before the interview begins.
  • Keep in mind that you may be evaluated just as much in the waiting area as in the interview itself.
  • Make sure you are friendly to the receptionist, office assistant or anyone else who may greet you before and after the interview.
  • If you are discourteous to a receptionist or anyone else in the company, it will negatively impact your chances of getting the job.

Do show respect for others' time

  • Respect is very important to Japanese employers, so be sure to show the utmost respect during all communications.
  • Beyond being punctual for interviews and responding promptly to requests for references, this rule also covers timing issues once you receive an employment offer.
  • If you're not prepared to give a yes or no answer immediately, thank your contact and promise a response within a few days.
  • Stretching out your decision time beyond a few days could convey a lack of interest, and may also inconvenience the prospective employer, who may need to fill the position quickly.
  • If you choose not to accept the job, inform the hiring manager immediately. This will give him or her a chance to offer the position to someone else.

Everyone you meet during a job search has the potential to make an impact on your professional growth. Any contact could become your next employer or a key networking resource. By following the rules of job search etiquette in Japan, you'll show professionalism and a drive to succeed – essential qualities for every job seeker in Japan.

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