Job marketplace flip: Hunters become the hunted in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Students listen to recruiting staff from companies at a joint presentation in Chiba Prefecture on March 2.

With post-graduation employment searches in full swing among junior university students, a trend is emerging that shifts the role of job-hunter over to the corporate side, which can scout for potential new hires using an increasing number of job-matching services.

The spread of the novel coronavirus has reduced the number of face-to-face job seminars since last year, leading both students and companies to search for different ways to connect.

Last autumn, a junior at Chuo University registered his profile on one such scouting site, and received a number of messages from companies about job fairs among other information. He said he wanted to work for real estate developers and was pleased to receive job offers from companies in various sectors related to real estate, such as apartments and housing construction.

“There were many companies I didn’t know about, so it was a good opportunity to get to know them,” he said.

Scouting-style sites have seen a surge in users this year. One of them, OfferBox run by Osaka-based i-plug Co. has about 113,000 registered students who will graduate in March 2022 — up 1.5 times from the previous year — with registered companies also increasing 30% to about 7,500. The number of students who registered at Benesse i-Career Co.’s Doda Campus has doubled from the previous year, with the total number of students in all school years exceeding 350,000.

Behind the increase is a decline in in-person presentations amid the coronavirus crisis. In the past, many students became interested in companies or industries that they stumbled across at such events. In the field of online job hunting, job-seekers tend to collect information about only industries they are interested in.

“Scouting-style services allow us to broaden my horizons through connections with industries and companies that I was’t interested in before,” a junior at Waseda University said.

These trends in the job marketplace seem to have driven companies to actively recruit human resources.

Recomm Co., a Tokyo-based, specialist trading company in the information and communications industry, hired 22 of its 37 new recruits through a scouting service this spring.

“Companies that are not widely known cannot attract students if they are passive. Through this service, we can directly recruit students we want and also reduce recruitment costs,” the head of Recomm’s human resources department said.

Tokyo-based personnel consulting firm Neo Career Co. said it would hire some of its new employees via a job-matching service this spring, and increase the percentage of such scouting service hires to about 20% next spring.

However, the pandemic has made it difficult for students to meet companies in certain industries, such as travel and food, even if they registered with these services.

Recruitment consultant Masanao Tanide said: “Students won’t get job offers if they don’t have a list of achievements that they can promote, and companies won’t get their offers accepted if they aren’t attractive enough. In the end, it is all about polishing their shine and marketing themselves.”