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Students’ “perseverance” key to recruiting employees

  • March 19, 2014
  • , Sankei
  • Trending@Japan

March is graduation season in Japan. Students of all ages, from elementary school to university, will bid goodbye to their teachers and friends and move on to a new life that begins in April, symbolized by the cherry blossoms that burst into bloom at around the same time. Many university graduates are probably both excited and nervous, as they are about to move to the next chapter of their lives and enter the work force next month. However, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), 31% of university graduates who started working as full-time employees in 2010 left their jobs within the first three years. According to the survey, the rate was as high as 51% for those who joined the hotel and restaurant business and nearly 50% for those who joined the education, entertainment, or travel sectors. Sankei (12/2/13) said university graduates in 2010 were seriously affected by the global economic downturn following the so-called “Lehman shock” and were unable to land jobs that they really wanted amid the harsh employment situation. The paper said these factors contributed to the increase in the turnover rate of young Japanese in their first three years on the job, which rose for the first time in six years.

According to Sankei, the MHLW believes that young people’s career development could be hampered by quitting within the first three years and thinks it is necessary to reduce the number of “mismatches” between students’ initial image of a company and the reality they face afterward. NHK reported (1/30) that some universities are introducing new measures to reduce these “mismatches,” such as explaining to students at the onset of job counseling about the severe working conditions of the companies they are interested in. For example, Osaka University of Commerce began conducting a survey of graduates three years ago to learn the actual working conditions of the companies they are employed at. According to the network, the university conducts the survey every six months and provides the results to student job hunters. As a result, the university has managed to reduce by half its graduates’ turnover rate, which was above 30% three years ago. Hosei University has organized a class to teach students about these “mismatches” by inviting its graduates to talk to the class about the differences and similarities between their actual working conditions and what they had envisioned.

NHK (12/18/13) reported that although Japanese companies usually put weight on students’ resumes and interviews when recruiting and don’t pay much attention to their academic records, 30 major companies have begun focusing mainly on students’ academic records this year. The network reported on a major chemical manufacturer in Tokyo that began asking students to submit their complete academic records in an effort to gauge their “perseverance,” which is difficult to ascertain through their resumes and interviews alone. According to the network, rather than focusing on their grades, the company looks at whether the students tackled their weakest subjects head on instead of giving up. The network quoted an HR manager of the company as saying: “When you join a company, you have to do things you don’t want at first because you need to learn the job. If you cannot endure that period, you can’t go any further… Students who did what they had to do in university probably will do well as company employees.”

According to NHK, companies are becoming increasingly alarmed by the growing number of new employees who soon quit, adding that another MHLW survey found that every year about 50,000 people, or 15% of new recruits, leave their jobs within the first year. The network said a human resources development expert believes that more companies will be using students’ academic records as a key point of reference for recruiting in the future, quoting him as saying: “It’s difficult to judge from interviews whether candidates have the ability to set their own goals and make efforts to achieve them despite difficulties. If you have their academic records and degrees at hand when you conduct interviews, you can get an idea of their strengths.”

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