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Any non-Japanese heritage individuals here get a job in Japan as a 新卒?

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  • Any non-Japanese heritage individuals here get a job in Japan as a 新卒?

    Hi everyone. First time poster, but I've visited the forums many times in the past year. Everyone seems to have some very interesting and unique stories, which is why I decided to register in hopes that I may receive some advice on working in Japan.

    I'm a mandarin native speaker raised in the U.S. that will be graduating this June from college with a double major in Psych/Phil. I studied at Keio University for a year, during which I got my JLPT N1. In November I went to Boston Career Forum and went through several rounds of interviews in Boston and Tokyo (similar to how Japanese people do job hunting) before I was offered a job after graduation from my top choice company. I've already given them a verbal acceptance on my part, and we've been working out details on my move to Japan including visa and housing. However, when I received my 内定通知証 in the mail I realized that there were no details regarding my contract, but only that I would be an actually employee.

    This leads me to my main question: How do I start the dialogue regarding pay? When I first applied to the company they gave a number of 400,000 yen/month approximately for 新卒, with a slightly higher pay for masters students. They haven't given me any information on it specifically for my hiring, and I don't want to get boned until after I move to Japan. Needless to say, even if the pay is lower than offered I don't particularly mind (I have absolutely no work experience apart from half a year of part-time flipping burgers, and this company has a strong brand name so it'll look great on my resume regardless of pay.)

    Another question I have has more to do with working in Japan in general: Does anyone here work 100% in Japanese, but aren't programmers and aren't native speakers of Japanese? I was interviewed for three different positions during the interview process with the company, so I have no idea what kind of job I'll be doing specifically. However, the location will be in Tokyo, and they deal with me exclusively in Japanese (interviews were in Japanese as well). I've read a lot about working in Japan from various sources, both Japanese and foreign, but I found nothing from the perspective of a non-Japanese person like me who went through 就活 and has to move to Japan. I'd love to hear people's experiences about the working environment any of you who use mostly Japanese at work and perform business/administrative/management tasks.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Siitrasn View Post
    This leads me to my main question: How do I start the dialogue regarding pay?
    You don't. The company is basically going to tell you what your salary will be. Most companies have the salary for new recruits posted right on their website and that should be exactly what you make.


    As for your second question, expect a lot of meetings. Because of how brilliant Japanese HR departments are, you might not even be placed in a department where your language skills can be used. I know of one company that hired a pair of Chinese speakers last year - one of whom got put in the accounting department.

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    • #3
      There was a post here of a guy who was offered a job with a Japanese company, thought the pay was too low and then turned them down and then tried to talk them back into hiring him again.

      japanese companies generally work on a different wave length here. At graduation your value to the company is negligible until you have been rotated among various departments, transferred all over the company and done all the grunt work. All that stuff you learned at college probably wont even be considered as they largely regard you as a blank slate. There is a demand for Chinese speakers which is probably what they are hiring you for. Many companies are now relocating offshore to China.

      Do not even mention salary as you really have no bargaining power and no leverage over what they pay you. There are 10 guys out there who can replace you if you start nickel and diming them on salary and work conditions. Get hired and pay your dues first and get some experience.
      Last edited by KansaiBen; 2012-03-04, 02:54 PM.

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      • #4
        Thanks you two for replying. Your input is very much appreciated. I'll make sure to avoid talking about salary then, since I'd rather have a job than not.

        Originally posted by inflames View Post
        You don't. The company is basically going to tell you what your salary will be. Most companies have the salary for new recruits posted right on their website and that should be exactly what you make.

        As for your second question, expect a lot of meetings. Because of how brilliant Japanese HR departments are, you might not even be placed in a department where your language skills can be used. I know of one company that hired a pair of Chinese speakers last year - one of whom got put in the accounting department.
        I hold no expectations regarding what type of position they'll be putting me in, although during the selection process they had specific departments interview me for my 4th and 5th interviews and their questions were focused on whether or not I was interested in those positions.

        Ok, meetings. I'll make sure to brush up on presentation and/or talking skill in Japanese.

        Originally posted by KansaiBen View Post
        There was a post here of a guy who was offered a job with a Japanese company, thought the pay was too low and then turned them down and then tried to talk them back into hiring him again.

        japanese companies generally work on a different wave length here. At graduation your value to the company is negligible until you have been rotated among various departments, transferred all over the company and done all the grunt work. All that stuff you learned at college probably wont even be considered as they largely regard you as a blank slate. There is a demand for Chinese speakers which is probably what they are hiring you for. Many companies are now relocating offshore to China.

        Do not even mention salary as you really have no bargaining power and no leverage over what they pay you. There are 10 guys out there who can replace you if you start nickel and diming them on salary and work conditions. Get hired and pay your dues first and get some experience.
        I've read most of this elsewhere, so it's not anything new. I'm expecting about a year of moving around various departments before I'll actually be set on a specific track. The real information I want and lack is an idea of how the work environment is going to be like for foreigners. I heard some places expect you to perform a particular function job-wise, and they don't expect you to know much else. In particular, I've heard this from a lot of people working in tech. On the other hand, my fluent Japanese Nikkei/Japan-born Chinese friends usually report that the company expects the same thing from them as they do other Japanese new graduates. I'm not too sure what to expect.

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        • #5
          I know a few people in your position. Expect to be treated just like any other new hire and to work entirely in Japanese. You will get very close with your training group and with the other new hires from your year--you'll spend a lot of time with them during the first few months as you get shepherded through training together. Also, native speaker though you are, expect to be sent intensive business English classes if that's part of your company's new recruit training.

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          • #6
            For what its worth theres a couple of good books from Amazon, about working in Japanese companies and dealing with Japanese society in general.

            The Blue-Eyed Salariman. A treatise by a foreigner on working for a Japanese corporation.

            The Straightjacket Society by Dr Misao Miyamoto. Written by a former bureaucrat who rubbed his bosses up the wrong way and was exiled to outer Siberia for his non-conformist ways and then fired. A good read.

            You've Gotta have Wa, by Robert Whiting. Written about Japanese baseball it holds a mirror to Japanese society and explains the culture and way of thinking in Japan.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by wzwzwz View Post
              I know a few people in your position. Expect to be treated just like any other new hire and to work entirely in Japanese. You will get very close with your training group and with the other new hires from your year--you'll spend a lot of time with them during the first few months as you get shepherded through training together. Also, native speaker though you are, expect to be sent intensive business English classes if that's part of your company's new recruit training.
              Good to know! Thanks!

              Originally posted by KansaiBen View Post
              For what its worth theres a couple of good books from Amazon, about working in Japanese companies and dealing with Japanese society in general.

              The Blue-Eyed Salariman. A treatise by a foreigner on working for a Japanese corporation.

              The Straightjacket Society by Dr Misao Miyamoto. Written by a former bureaucrat who rubbed his bosses up the wrong way and was exiled to outer Siberia for his non-conformist ways and then fired. A good read.

              You've Gotta have Wa, by Robert Whiting. Written about Japanese baseball it holds a mirror to Japanese society and explains the culture and way of thinking in Japan.
              I will see if I can find these books at the library, though I've read numerous "books" and many of them do not apply to my situation. I blend in very well in Japan, so I tend to avoid books that have titles like the one you suggested. Thank you for the recommendations though.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Siitrasn View Post
                I will see if I can find these books at the library, though I've read numerous "books" and many of them do not apply to my situation. I blend in very well in Japan, so I tend to avoid books that have titles like the one you suggested. Thank you for the recommendations though.
                Personally I have found experience is the best teacher and there is only so much you can learn by reading about it. You did ask what its like to work at a Japanese company and the Salariman book is about as close as you will get. The others deal more with Japanese thinking and mindset.

                Surviving in Japan is all about leaving your preconceptions, bias and prejudices at the door and just suck up whatever they throw at you. It won't make sense much of the time but they are not going to change for you.

                As I assume you have never lived here as a long term resident you will have a steep learning curve as you will no longer be a tourist or short term visitor. Being a student is one thing, working in a company for a boss is something else.
                Last edited by KansaiBen; 2012-03-04, 11:00 PM.

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                • #9
                  There are loads of books out there written for Japanese new grads on how to be a good 社会人。

                  Search 社会人間なー or something on Amazon, or look on Japanese YouTube for some fairly decent how-to-behave videos.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by KansaiBen View Post
                    Personally I have found experience is the best teacher and there is only so much you can learn by reading about it. You did ask what its like to work at a Japanese company and the Salariman book is about as close as you will get. The others deal more with Japanese thinking and mindset.

                    Surviving in Japan is all about leaving your preconceptions, bias and prejudices at the door and just suck up whatever they throw at you. It won't make sense much of the time but they are not going to change for you.

                    As I assume you have never lived here as a long term resident you will have a steep learning curve as you will no longer be a tourist or short term visitor. Being a student is one thing, working in a company for a boss is something else.
                    Your assumptions are half correct. I lived there for one year and had to deal with plenty of ridiculous things with the university I was at, and they treated me just like every other Japanese student. That meant sucking it up when they told me things that were absolutely ridiculous.

                    And yes, I do realize working for a company is different from being a student. However, I don't consider my goal to be "surviving in Japan," but rather living my life there just as how I consider living in America to be my every day life. I'm not thinking about survival or anything :P

                    I think every new undergraduate in Japan has to go through a very important learning phrase when they graduate and get a job.

                    Originally posted by wzwzwz View Post
                    There are loads of books out there written for Japanese new grads on how to be a good 社会人。

                    Search 社会人間なー or something on Amazon, or look on Japanese YouTube for some fairly decent how-to-behave videos.
                    I have some of these books on hand, though sometimes I wonder how much they're going to expect me to know a lot about etiquette.

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                    • #11
                      Of the books KB mentioned, I've only read The Blue-Eyed Salaryman. I had been working in a Japanese company for six years at the time, and my experience was a little different. I was in a smaller company, so there was a slight bit more flexibility. That said, the title of the book is partially misleading as it's not the physical differences that make it weird working for a Japanese company, rather it's the cultural differences. The author of the book had some good insights, and as a foreigner going into a big company (by the sounds of it), I would recommend it as a worthwhile read - even if you do 'blend in' with the rest of them. Blending in only goes so far - they are going to know you are different very quickly.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Effected After View Post
                        O Blending in only goes so far - they are going to know you are different very quickly.
                        and you will always know that its not home, not the States or back in China. Its the little things that make the difference.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Siitrasn View Post
                          I have some of these books on hand, though sometimes I wonder how much they're going to expect me to know a lot about etiquette.
                          You are not Japanese they wont expect you to know all the etiquette and rules. thats what they have orientations and trainings for. Even the noobie Japanese employees will be pretty green when they start out, such as telephone manners and how to bow properly.

                          Theres only a few things in Japan that are cardinal sins even for foreigners and they probably wont turn up in your office. Just keep your antenna up, watch what other people do and follow their lead. I have found after 25 years in Japan they will cut you a lot of slack most of the time.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by KansaiBen View Post
                            and you will always know that its not home, not the States or back in China. Its the little things that make the difference.
                            Can you please explain to me these "little things" from your own experience, or from what others know? Last time I was in Japan the only things that I missed from home (apart from friends and family) were 1.) sarcasm and 2.) good Mexican food. Everything else was fine.

                            Originally posted by KansaiBen View Post
                            You are not Japanese they wont expect you to know all the etiquette and rules. thats what they have orientations and trainings for. Even the noobie Japanese employees will be pretty green when they start out, such as telephone manners and how to bow properly.

                            Theres only a few things in Japan that are cardinal sins even for foreigners and they probably wont turn up in your office. Just keep your antenna up, watch what other people do and follow their lead. I have found after 25 years in Japan they will cut you a lot of slack most of the time.
                            Great to know. Thanks!

                            Originally posted by Effected After View Post
                            Of the books KB mentioned, I've only read The Blue-Eyed Salaryman. I had been working in a Japanese company for six years at the time, and my experience was a little different. I was in a smaller company, so there was a slight bit more flexibility. That said, the title of the book is partially misleading as it's not the physical differences that make it weird working for a Japanese company, rather it's the cultural differences. The author of the book had some good insights, and as a foreigner going into a big company (by the sounds of it), I would recommend it as a worthwhile read - even if you do 'blend in' with the rest of them. Blending in only goes so far - they are going to know you are different very quickly.
                            Of course, I don't think blending in will be the solution.
                            Last edited by Siitrasn; 2012-03-05, 07:58 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Siitrasn View Post
                              Can you please explain to me these "little things" from your own experience, or from what others know? Last time I was in Japan the only things that I missed from home (apart from friends and family) were 1.) sarcasm and 2.) good Mexican food. Everything else was fine.
                              Here is a good place to start. Most of them are not earth-shattering and make you want to run for the exits. Some things may even become annoying.

                              http://www.thejapanfaq.com/FAQ-Manners.html

                              A couple of my own:

                              Parties or social functions can be set with a stop watch. As soon as its 8 o'clock or whatever every packs up and leaves even if its in full swing.
                              People do not usually socialise at home so it means having to spend money on restaurants.
                              Crowded trains.
                              Long meetings that seem to go around in circles.
                              Senpai-Kohai. Strict delineation based on seniority age and whether a person comes before you or after you in the company.
                              You might be a talented guy with great ideas but there will be older people in the company they listen to first.
                              A lot of times people are not prepared to think outside the box but run around like a bunch of chickens in a cage and stick together.
                              It takes a long time to make real friends, especially outside the work place, Drinking buddies, , acquaintances co-workers yes. Most I would not consider real friends though.
                              What people say and what they actually mean can be two different things. There is the public face and what their real thoughts and intentions are. Learn not to take things at face value.
                              Japanese will tell you what they want you to know, and it is a good idea to learn the difference.
                              The high cost of living in general.
                              Lack of public spaces, greenery.


                              Of course, I don't think blending in will be the solution.
                              If you look Chinese or Asian you will of course blend in, just like a Caucasian stands out like dog's balls. That doesn't make you any more Japanese though. Japan has an expression. 郷に入れば郷に従え which means "when in Roman do as the Romans do". They will appreciate the effort to fit in but it wont make you any more Japanese. Some foreigners tend to go overboard and try and be more Japanese than the Japanese.
                              Last edited by KansaiBen; 2012-03-05, 03:05 PM.

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