Things I don’t understand about Japan: Job Hunting Suits

What is it? In Japan, during their senior year of college, most seniors do something called “Shukatsu” (就活), or “Job Hunting.” And I know that most seniors, regardless of country, do job hunting, but Japan (per usual) takes it to a whole new level of efficiency.

  1. Companies will typically go to famous/well know colleges to directly interview students. That’s why it is so important to get into a great university: it will literally determine your future job (because even though they are gradually drifting away, most companies still believe in life-time employment). That is also why some students will take an extra year or two off between high school and college, so that they can study intensively for each universities specific entrance exam (as in the case of my fiancé, Ryosuke).
  2. 60% – 70% of students who graduate, do so with a solid job offer. “Freshman” employees typically start in March – and have to go through all sorts of “bonding” exercises including, but not limited to, unmarried members living in the company dormitories.
    By comparison, 99% of student who graduate from Ryosuke’s college have a job already lined up.
  3. When job hunting, everyone wears specific “job hunting” suits. And yes, there is a difference.

Why I don’t understand it: Ryosuke has started job hunting. For the first month, he borrowed a friend’s suit but while we were home for the holidays, his parents took us “job hunting suit” hunting (on their dime, of course).

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Ryosuke tried on several suits that looked the exact same (even to a girl like me)

When we got to the store, Aoyama (青山), there were rows and rows of identical black job hunting suits that, upon closer inspection, were apparently NOT identical. They had black, dark black, dark navy, and dark charcoal. Those were the four acceptable job hunting suit colors. No stripes, no pin-stripes, no colors that didn’t look like they were really just plain, black suits.

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These are all actually different colors. I’m not joking.

We got an (850 US$) suit 50% off, then did the “job hunting package” to include a three “job hunting” white shirts (60 US$) with fancy pockets on the front. He chose to opt out for the mono-chrome ties (30 US$ a piece), a leather belt (100 US$), a “job hunting” leather bag (200 US$– 400 US$), and black leather shoes (I wasn’t able to look at the prices). He could borrow all of those from friends or relatives.

So technically we saved a lot of money. I guess.

Asking friends later, I wasn’t surprised to hear that most of them went into the upwards of 1,000 US$ for job hunting supplies. Apparently you can’t just cut corners, recruiters will notice that kind of thing and you won’t get the job.

Why I honestly DO kind of understand it: I can understand the need for conformity during the job hunting season. Every time I go to a job/internship interview, I spend a sad amount of time trying to figure out what to wear. I research the company, ask friend for advice, and look up online how to impress without going overboard. I would love it if America also had one set standard of what to wear for job hunting. That would make everyone’s lives so much easier.

I just wish it didn’t cost upwards of 1,000 US$.

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An advertisement from Aoyama. On the right side (the blue box with the smug looking man) are the “job hunting packages.” We brought this advertisement to the store so we could point out exactly what suit we wanted.

Final thoughts: I don’t like having to look up what to wear for job interviews in America. In the words of my friend (we were talking about this recently), [When I go to a job interview] “I always feel like I’m dressed really stupidly.” But, I also don’t want to spend 1,000 US$ on a suit when I eventually have to do job hunting in Japan.

Thankfully one of Ryosuke’s sisters said I can wear her suit. So I just need to NOT put on any weight between now and then.

For other “Things I don’t Understand About Japan” posts, check out:

Things I don’t Understand About Japan: Melon Soda

Things I don’t Understand About Japan: The Obsession with Crocs

Things I don’t Understand About Japan: Lucky Bags (Fuku bukuro) 福袋

Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele

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9 responses to “Things I don’t understand about Japan: Job Hunting Suits

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  8. Pingback: Things I don’t understand about Japan: The Obsession with Crocs « Texan in Tokyo·

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