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Job hunting Mid-career

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

At some point in your career, you might start thinking about what other jobs there are out there, if they might suit you better, if they pay better, provides a more suitable career path or maybe you just want to change your environment.

In my case, during my 4th year at my first job in Osaka, I decided to try something new, (and also because my OUISA fam is mostly in Tokyo), I decided to start job hunting.

My experience may not have been the most efficient, or best way, but let me share with you my experience changing jobs mid-career in Japan.

Overall flow

Register on recruit websites

Gather information about companies

Sit for test

Go for interview (2~3 interviews per company generally)

Salary negotiation

Start date negotiation

Hand in resignation notice to former employer

Start new job!

How do I get started?

There are mostly 2 ways of doing this, one is through a job-hunting website/agents, and another is directly to the company (via their website for example).

For the former, first thing to do, put yourself out there. Create or update your Linked-in account, register on job search websites, so that agents can reach you.

In my case, I registered on Biz-Reach, which is kind of like a recruit agent hub. (Now there are a whole lot more as I see in the adverts on the trains) Here I can choose what kind of industry, what kind of job (R&D, engineering, application engineer etc.), where in Japan you would prefer to be based etc.

Then, the algorithm will show and notify you of new job postings that are suitable.

Also, your profile is available to the recruiting agents on the website, who will reach out to you if they see that you could be a potential candidate for their customer (ie the companies). Some will ask you to contact them so that they can learn more about you and your preferences, narrow down the choices they feel are suitable for you, and some will even help you with your CV if they feel you have a good chance of being hired.

On a side note, what is it in for the agents to help you? They get paid a lot (up to 50% of your offered annual salary) by the company if you get hired through them. That is a huge sum so there are a lot of agents out there just trying to place people in companies. That is one of their motivations, and unfortunately sometimes you meet agents who are just trying to place people, and some of them bad apples can get aggressive and put a lot of pressure on you.

Differences between Biz-Reach and Linked-in

Biz-Reach : Japanese agents, mostly Japanese companies but also foreign companies too.

Linked-in: Foreigner agents, mostly foreign companies.

Agency that I didn’t like

Personally, I preferred the Japanese agents because I felt they were more helpful, while the foreign agents were waaaay more aggressive, made you feel bad about your current job (even if you don’t feel that way), are critical of your current company and put the other company on a pedestal, put a lot of pressure on you to accept their offer,. I just did not like their way of doing things, or I just happened to meet 2~3 agents that were all bad apples.

Agency that I liked

The agent that I had a good experience with was JAC. The agent did not deluge me with a long list of companies I was not interested in, but narrowed it down to a short list of those I was interested in and had good chances of getting into (saves your time).

They provided information about the company and sometimes even the interviewee, and gave me a list of questions that I should prepare for. This is one reason to use agents, because otherwise it would be better to just apply directly to the companies (which companies prefer anyway as they don’t have to pay the agent fee).

The other advantage of using agents is that they can negotiate the salary on your behalf, and also ask things that are hard for you to ask directly to the potential employer.

Also, make clear what are the benefits, e.g. housing allowance, moving fee etc, that the company provides.

Salary

Regarding salary negotiation, a lot of it is based on your current salary, unless you have some really sought-after skills where you can ask for a high(er) starting salary.

Tests

Like the tests we took when we were in B3 or M1 looking for jobs, for mid-career job hunting, there are tests also, called SPI. It includes logic, Japanese, math questions. Lots of books on it in the bookshops. It is good to get one or two to practice if the companies you apply to requires it.

Interview

The interview isn’t unlike the job interviews when you were a fresh graduate. They’ll ask you why you want to join the company, what you want to do etc. However, unlike job interviews as a fresh grad, they will also ask about your previous job experiences, and it helps to explain how your previous experience and skills can contribute to the company.

In general, if you have less than 5 years of work experience, you are sometimes still considered a “fresh grad”, a 第二卒, and there is less expectations about your job skills, more on “potential” and how they can still train you. After 5 years, they would want someone with 即戦力, someone who can contribute immediately to the team once they enter, so job skills and experiences count a lot more.

After passing the interviews

This is when you negotiate your salary (of course you will get a rough salary range when you apply), and decide the starting date. It helps to have a few companies on hand so that you can use it as leverage against the other to negotiate a higher salary.

Regarding starting date, most companies would want you to start ASAP, preferably in 1~2 months. Keep in mind you need to give your current employer at least 1 month notice, and maybe 1 more month for you to use up your holidays, do 引継ぎ and tie up loose ends.

There you have it! A rough guide on 転職 (tenshoku).

If you’re thinking of changing job, hope this helps and good luck to you!



This blog was contributed by Sze Ping on November 13, 2021.

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