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Editorial: Serious thought required of college students as job-hunting season begins

This year's job-hunting season for university students graduating in spring next year officially kicked off on March 1, as companies across Japan started information seminars to lure the best candidates.

    Due to the labor shortage, it is said that students have the advantage in this year's job-hunting season. As the period in between the start of information seminars and candidate interviews has been shortened by two months from last year, companies have started making vigorous efforts to secure future employees.

    Third-year university students usually submit their CVs and application forms on the day when companies hold their first seminars. As today's average student is said to apply to 50 firms, many of them get swamped with preparing the necessary forms and attending job fairs. It will be a short-lived job hunt for the students this year, and not many job seekers can afford the time carefully looking into each firm.

    Companies are also seeking ways to better handle this year's recruiting season. Many IT firms and foreign capital companies that are not members of the Japan Business Federation -- Japan's largest business lobby, also known as Keidanren, which outlines the recruitment policies -- had already started interviews and other processes before March 1. Keidanren member companies also made efforts to lure the best candidate students by offering internship programs before the official job-hunting season kicked off.

    According to a survey conducted by Keidanren last year, nearly 90 percent of member firms said they did not abide by the recruitment policies on the timing of the start of interviews.

    Meanwhile, over 30 percent of fresh-out-of-college employees quit within three years after graduation for reasons including that they "did not feel like their job fit them," according to a labor ministry study. In other words, one out of three university graduates choose not to stay in their first job.

    To eliminate mismatches between students and companies, the government passed the youth employment promotion law last year, and on March 1 this year began a program requiring companies to disclose information to students regarding working conditions. If asked by students via letters or emails, companies will have to release company data including: 1) job turnover rates and average number of years spent at the firm; 2) average overtime hours per month and how much paid holiday and parental leave are used; and 3) information on employee training programs. If companies refuse to respond to students, the Hello Work employment service offices and other related bodies will issue guidance or advice for improvement.

    However, because companies are only required to give part of the information in the three aforementioned categories, there is a risk that firms will not reveal information inconvenient to them.

    Companies should make every effort to make information open to win trust of students, since it is a loss for businesses if their employees leave soon after they are hired.

    Today's college students acquire company information via recruiting websites, but it is difficult for the students to learn about the negative aspects of companies on these sites, which run on listing fees paid by the firms themselves.

    On the other hand, university career centers offer a large collection of company information, while some career guidance counselors at these centers offer consultation services to students based on their strengths and aspirations. Universities and employment service offices need to put effort into providing information to students more efficiently.

    When looking into firms, job-seeking students are said to place emphasis on company cultures or on companies' potential to fulfill the students' career ambitions. We hope that university students give considerable thought to what they want to do with their careers, and to which company will allow them to fulfill their potential.

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