Shukatsu, short for shushoku katsudo (“job seeking activities”), is a rite of passage for most young adults in Japan. Many begin their job hunt during their college years, securing employment for after they graduate — companies even reserve employment slots in advance for new graduates, though there has been discussion about changing this practice due to the limiting factor of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only is the shukatsu process itself often exhausting, but prospective candidates are heavily encouraged to strip away all their individuality and dress in a strict, formal business-suit style. So to job hunt in Japan, you’ll need a suit.
What’s more, for Japanese job-hunters, not just any suit will do. Traditional business etiquette says they need a “recruit suit,” an incredibly plain solid black suit without any sort of dramatic cuts or tapers. Another headache is that while it’s generally acceptable to continue wearing your recruit suit after landing and job and starting work, that grace period only lasts for about a year. After that, white-collar professionals are usually expected to retire their recruit suit and replace it with a new suit that’s just a little less plain.
There’s a small relief in that recruit suits are usually less expensive than other types, but even still, a recruit suit with a jacket and sharply creased trousers or skirt, doesn’t come cheap. The very cheapest recruit suits still cost about 10,000 yen, and that’s if consumers can resist the pressure to spend more to make a good impression on potential recruiters. What’s more, in 2020 more companies are using online communication to meet potential hires– understandable, when those hires are less willing to go through the arduous work of traveling to each company due to the pandemic.
Yofuku no Aoyama, a retailer of Western-style suits in Japan that sells both recruit and standard suits, has announced that it will allow students to rent their wares at a reduced cost for the job-seeking period. The service is already in action at the brand’s store in Namba, Osaka, and permits students to get measured for the suit before paying to rent it.
Since the pandemic has limited college students’ access to part-time jobs and in many cases is impacting the salaries of their parents, this lower-cost rental option could aid students who are unwilling to shell out for a formal outfit they’d only be using for a relatively short period of time, and before they even have a full salary.
Some commenters online weren’t impressed and condemned the move as a marketing gimmick to combat low sales, though many blamed workplaces requiring suits in the first place. Others pointed out that the rental suit will have to be cleaned before returning, adding to the price. Others still wondered how cheap a rental would really be compared to buying a suit since applicants are expected to interview at many companies over the job-hunting period. However, one commenter summed up the advantage of such a service:
“A rental suit is perfectly acceptable for job hunting. You can make a better impression in a more expensive suit, and this allows you to wear one above your ordinary budget.”
Source: Kyodo News via Hachima Kiko
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