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Job seekers flop at impressing potential employers

34 Comments

According to recent media reports, only about two out of three college seniors graduating this March have jobs lined up. In the first of four articles in Sapio (Feb 9-16) under the combined headline, "Nihon no wakamono ga dondon baka ni natte iru" (Japan's young people are becoming dumber and dumber), education consultant and author Reiji Ishiwatari relates some horror stories from the job recruitment front.

In perhaps the most extreme example of unpreparedness, the personnel manager at a major manufacturing company relates how he saw an applicant shamelessly peel off his street clothes and change to a business suit in the office lobby. Another arrived so unprepared, he hadn't even filled out the entry form that participants were required to submit. After sitting on the lobby floor and scribbling one, he then requested the receptionist for paste to affix his photograph.

Despite four years of college, slogging through a daily newspaper is also a struggle. When a regional newspaper offered internship positions, it was flooded with applications. Twenty aspirants were selected.

Their first day on the job, the 20 were asked, "Have you been reading our newspaper?" About half raised their hands. But when asked which other newspapers they read, there were practically no replies.

"If you join a newspaper company, your salary comes from the readers of the publication," sighs a reporter. "Unfortunately, too many students fail to comprehend this."

The students gave such lame excuses as "Since the newspaper can be read online for free, it's stupid to pay for it" and "I don't know the right way to read it."

Another said, "Thinking it would help me land a job, I subscribed to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. But it takes me a long time to get through it. I've got several weeks of back issues piled up still unread."

It seems he needed four hours just to read the morning edition. If aboard the shinkansen, that's analogous to reading all the way from Tokyo to Hiroshima.

The newspaperman explained to the student that reading every single word on every page, including the stock market quotations, would be equivalent to reading two entire books. Most people typically just skim the front page headlines and then, when time permits, they peruse the articles that interest them most.

"Oh, is it okay to just do that?" the student naively replied.

Meanwhile, the personnel manager at an electronics manufacturer bewailed the inability of many students to communicate with adults.

"Before the interview begins, if you ask a casual question to get the ball rolling, like, 'Was the train crowded?' they look terrified, and misunderstanding the reason for the question, they'll blurt out something like, 'The train was empty, and I spent the time looking at your company's ad for its new widgets' or just say something they've already rehearsed, like, 'I've admired your company for a long time.'"

Job recruiters in other fields relate their experiences.

At a venture business: "Being small, our company had only just began recruiting new female graduates. When one of the female students inquired about maternity leave, I said, 'Well up to now, no one has been eligible. Naturally when and if that happens, we'll abide by the law,' and she responded, 'Well doesn't that mean up to now, your company has been discriminating against women?'"

At a foodstuffs maker: "When we organized an informal group discussion session, one of the male students started crying. When we asked what happened, we were told that someone had disagreed with him. Just to get weepy over something like that..."

At a bank: "Their manners are poor. Students from the countryside bring along their suitcases or overnight bags with them to the interviews. You'd think they'd have the sense to stow them in a locker. Some of the boys scratch their heads during the interviews and spread flakes of dandruff all over their suits; the girls slouch with their legs apart or nervously preen their forelocks."

Considering the tight job market and shortage of good positions, Ishiwatari is sympathetic with the students to a degree. But he warns, "If dysfunctional students like these ever become a majority, then I suppose Japan will have no future."

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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"Nihon no wakamono wa dondon baka ni natteiru." As a teacher in university, I have to agree. Generally speaking, modern Japanese students have little or no social graces. As for reading newspapers, or showing any interest in what is going on around them apart from sports, makeup, fashion, music and the latest fads? Forget it. I blame the examination hell they have passed through, which has all but destroyed them. I also blame the terrible work and social conditions they receive if they do manage to get a job. They sign themselves over to their employer, lock, stock and barrel. They have virtually no human rights, and are exploited with low pay and criminally long working hours. They know they will have little or no social life or family life when they starting working in Japan as "sarariman" or "OL" and so they literally give up, and become comatosed into accepting the unacceptable. I despair of this country. They guy who wrote this article is spot on. Japan has no future, if this state of affairs continues.

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“When we organized an informal group discussion session, one of the male students started crying. When we asked what happened, we were told that someone had disagreed with him. Just to get weepy over something like that…”

This has to be a joke. If it is true, I hope he got kicked out onto the street for being silly little baby.

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Who wants to work for a newspaper company? It's a dying business. Looking for jobs in the newspaper, too? Seriously, is this 1993.

AS for the unpreparedness, that's a tough one to argue with.

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Actually how are these people dumb?

At a venture business: “Being small, our company had only just began recruiting new female graduates. When one of the female students inquired about maternity leave, I said, ‘Well up to now, no one has been eligible. Naturally when and if that happens, we’ll abide by the law,’ and she responded, ‘Well doesn’t that mean up to now, your company has been discriminating against women?’”

The applicant seems quite a smart woman. She won't get the job but it is ok because most probably when she gest pregnant they will fire her anyway.

Another arrived so unprepared, he hadn’t even filled out the entry form that participants were required to submit. After sitting on the lobby floor and scribbling one, he then requested the receptionist for paste to affix his photograph.

This means he simply was busy with university, family or hobby and uses all his available time for something useful. It doesn't mean that he is dumb. Most probably he is smarter than the company president.

the personnel manager at a major manufacturing company relates how he saw an applicant shamelessly peel off his street clothes and change to a business suit in the office lobby.

again this is not dumb, this is called style, time management and resourcefulness. It is dumber to wear a suit in 40 degrees heat.

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It is not just Japan that young people are getting dumber. Who can we blame? Too much video games, in door all the time, lack of social skills, emotionally unstable, parents are being too protective - they are young let them fall and stand back up themselves. Once in a while, you do meet someone who is very bright and function well socially, but that is very rare. Some can social very well, but when you talk to them more, you will find out it is really empty inside.

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Same problem here in Finland. This problem is not limited to Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I bet if you go back five hundred years in time you'll find people complaining how the younger generation is dumb and clueless and therefore the end is surely near.

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It seems he needed four hours just to read the morning edition. If aboard the shinkansen, that’s analogous to reading all the way from Tokyo to Hiroshima.

Gee thanks. Had no idea how long 4 hours was.

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I sympathize with the recruiters. Imagine having to talk everyday to clueless idiots. It's no wonder they are turning to foreign graduates. Anyone can pass a J-uni, including braindead zombies.

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@gaijinfo - Correct. A 2,000 year old scroll looted from a Baghdad museum, written by a teacher, lamented the hopeless students and their parents. I don't think it was recovered.

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My generation was fobbed off to be a bunch of hopless drug addicts, well, for beginners we invented portable computers, new medicines, solar energy etc. So young folks, in time, you will get your chance to run this planet maybe you can do a better job.

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I bet if you go back five hundred years in time you'll find people complaining how the younger generation is dumb and clueless and therefore the end is surely near.

Just because the older generation always complains that the younger generation is dumb and clueless doesn't mean the older generation is always wrong with their complaint. A dead clock is right twice a day.

Two theories on why the oldies might be right this time. First when I was a kid, cartoons were something you watched on Saturday mornings, with maybe Bugs Bunny on Saturday afternoon before the hockey game, and a half hour of The Flintstones one night in the week. A diversion. Kids today have 24 hour a day Cartoon Network, Disney Channel etc. (if the parent is stupid enough to have cable, and yes, I am). Also 24 hour a day access to their Nintendo/Sony/Xbox and when they get older their cell phone. They also have no comprehension that there was ever a world without those things. My son's jaw almost fell off when I said there was no internet when I was a kid. What my generation sees as diversions for when you have free time, they see as what you do with your time. And if you are doing those things, then you obviously are not doing other things, ie. things that make you smarter.

Second, each generation grows up in a world that is much more technologically and socially complicated than the generation before. But the brain gets no bigger. At some point there must be a tipping point where it all becomes too much to process, maybe we are there. Put it this way, 1000 or so years ago when my likely Viking ancestor jumped onto the boat in Denmark or Norway to head off to England, his total sum of knowledge was a fraction of what I know today. But his relative knowledge and understanding of the world he lived in and the available information and technology he had would have been many, many times greater than the percent of available knowledge that I understand in my world today. Maybe the kids aren't really getting dumber in an IQ sense, but they are getting dumber relative to the world around them.

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Well, you coach them and bring them up to your expectations.

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I thought this was what Japanese companies wanted in the first place - clueless brainless grads they can mold into their corporate way of doing things.

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Why does it sound like these companies/managers are complaining "these youths are not the way we want them to be. They are defiant, they argue with you, they have personalities, hobbies, dreams of their own separate from the company! Oooh japan is doomed!"

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realist - "As a teacher in university, I have to agree", "they literally give up, and become comatosed into accepting the unacceptable"

Whos to blame? It seems university teachers must accept at least some of the responsibility. How can anyone be 'comatosed' into anything???

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dontpanic, don't blame the teachers, blame the parents. If things are on a computer or a screen, they won't even bother to look up - not all, but most. The same thing is happening in our countries as well. Technology has ruined many of these kids' attention spans.

Japanese university students are often spoiled, lazy and very dependent on their parents, friends and teachers. I certainly have taught a few go getters but the majority? Un-hirable in my opinion. Blame the society they grew up in, their parents for spoiling them and the government for taking control away from the teachers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Was talking to a uni student the other day (don't get too many chances to talk with young people these days) and asked him if he was worried about his chances of getting a job. He said he was confident he would get a job. I asked him why. His answer : I'm going to research the companies before I go in for the interview. Duh?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tmarie, I agree, in fact not just parents, we're all responsible. My point was the irony of realist complaining, as a university teacher, of lowered student standards while demonstrating those lowered standards in him/herself. "comatosed into accepting the unacceptable"...really??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I bet all the interviewers think they were absolutely perfect at their first interview.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ebisen.

I doubt that, but those guys/gals did everything that would ensure they don't get the job.

Read about job-interviews and also how you treat the front-staff, etc also matter. The interview starts before you even approach the company physically and finishes way later than the talk.

Which company wants someone changing clothes, writing papers in the front-lobby that is also visited by their clients and business partners?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thing is, by the time these kids get to uni, they are ruined. They have no attention span. Teachers jobs are to teach, not entertain. Certainly interesting lessons are needed but if you have kids that won't tune into anything that isn't tech based, you can't blame the teachers. Uni kids stay up late, go drinking and then come to class because if they miss five, they fail. That is pretty much the only way they fail. If they turn up, don't do the work, they still graduate. I have had kids so hungover they reek, are asleep and don't care in my classes. Nothing I can do about it. Needs to change. These companies should be blaming the unis and the government for allowing this to happen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Blaming the internet is missing the point. There are plenty of sites on the internet offering GOOD tips on how to conduct yourself in a job interview (at least there are plenty in English. I don't know about Nihongo.) One of the things on ALL of those sites is the advice to research the company's products a bit so you have some familiarity with what they do. For a shinbun, that means you're AT LEAST going to read the paper for a few days to get an idea of which way they editorialize. There are also (in America) general business courses in high school that include instruction on basic job interview skills. Doesn't Japan have something similar? If not then the educational system is dropping the ball almost as much as these prospective applicants are.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Their 3rd and 4th year of uni is pretty much attending mock job interviews and job hunting. Pretty much no work gets done while they job hunt. Pathetic system that needs to change. The good and "smart" students shouldn't be worried about getting a job when dealing with the competition out there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If they spend that much time on mock interviews, how the heck can these students be so EPIC FAIL when it comes to the basics? Unless these were some of the students who slept through class.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These ARE the students who sleep through the classes. Japan doesn't encourage students to think for themselves and I can easily see how on simple question in an interview would make them crumble. Glad to see there are discussions being had on the job hunt time period. It is much needed. As is a rehaul of the education system.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

dontpanic If you taught in a college here, you would understand exactly what I mean, unfortunately. geronimo2006 - good one!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You see them on the trains in the morning. Cheap suits, empty briefcases, a glazed zombified look. No capability of interacting or acknowledging the existence of other human beings. Nothing more than drones.

Something is fundamentally wrong where this country is producing so many seemingly lifeless zombies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"The students gave such lame excuses as “Since the newspaper can be read online for free, it’s stupid to pay for it”."

The newspaper company had better be hiring some of these kids quick, because those students are right-on-the-money and the kind of person who thinks that a "lame" excuse, rather than "crisis of the industry's existence", is a person who needs to step out of the way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As people have mentioned, this isn't a problem limited to Japan and I'm sure this sort of thing is said about EVERY generation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A lot of the problem seems to be that the interviewers expect the new applicants, who have never ever been in a job to act like experienced businessmen or professionals. Newsflash, experience must be acquired, and often through trial and error. Rare are those who will be able to succeed perfectly the first time around.

Another problem seems to be a generational gap, where the interviewers seem to expect the applicants to be very polite and deferent, but the world is changing, and nowadays honesty is seen more and more as preferable to being polite. The case of the woman who pointed out the past discrimination of the company towards women is the perfect example. She was brutally honest and intelligent, she stepped on the rules of politeness, but she was right and told the truth. Tell me, in a job, which employee do you prefer, a yes-man who will adore every idea their boss comes up with or the straight-shooter who tells the boss why his idea is bad before the company has sunk thousands if not millions in it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If my experiences in Japan have taught me anything (yes, I realise this may equate to nothing being learnt on my part), the interviews probably consist of:

Do you like natto?

Can you use chopsticks?

Did you know that Japan has 4 seasons?

So it's little wonder that companies are struggling to find the right applicants because they are probably asking the wrong questions...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@KChoze - A job interview is much like a first date: both sides are trying to get an idea of the person sitting across from them. If I'm on a date and the girl spends the entire time discussing how her previous boyfriend treated her like dirt, it will be a short evening and she won't be getting a follow-up call from me. I don't want to hear about her old boyfriend, I want to hear about HER. Same goes for a prospective employer. If you walk in with a list of grievances against your previous employer, then you're wasting the interviewer's and your time - and odds are you won't be getting the job.

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When one of my high school students saw how frustrated I had become with an elementary art class, he came to me and told me the answer as why mediocrity is so accepted by students these days. He said it was The Google Era. Instant gratification, and shoddy. Me fast, me get done, me want to know what make next.

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