Self-help Program to Overcome - "Lack of Experience" Part One: Networking
It's just human nature, but the Japanese penchant for doing business in-person seems to be catching on even more than normal. Recently I've noticed an increase in the number of foreign managers who are hiring people they know and trust, to help them battle their way through a continuing difficult market. They're looking for a level of energy and commitment that you can't really detect in just a couple of interviews, so they are spending their hiring dollars (yen) on people they judge are worth the risk - even inexperienced people.
As an inexperienced job seeker (fresh grads and people new to Japan), this is an important point to know because it validates an ancient but often ignored avenue - networking with your target audience, as a means of overcoming the reluctance of most companies' HR managers to hire an inexperienced person.
What is "networking"? We're talking about a very focused activity, which starts well before you actually come in contact with the people who might hire you. That activity consists of the following steps.
First, sit down at home and ask yourself what, specifically, you want to do 3-5 years from now, and which job sector and job type will help get you there. Once you know this, draw up a list of all the companies in that sector/job type which are active and appear to be healthy. You can find this information from the foreign chamber of commerce membership directories, online, from the short descriptions on the Nikkei if the companies are listed, and from Hoovers.com if they are listed or have affiliates in the USA.
Second, after making up the hit list, you get all the information you can about your target market, and become an "outsider" expert on the field. I had a friend who wanted to get in to the finance industry some years ago, and he bought scores of books on the subject, and read each one, making notes in the margins (showing he was really absorbing the content). He then found friends in business clubs and organizations who were already in the finance industry and asked them about certain aspects of what he'd read. No busy professional person wants to hear a question like, "How do I get into the financial industry?" Instead he would ask questions such as, "Can you explain structured finance to me?".
Next, after you're prepared, you're ready to network. There are tons of events for business people in Tokyo, so go to your web search engine and type in . The objective here is to develop a friendship with a group of people who might be able to help introduce a job to you later. You can't rush things, and you can't be cynical about the relationship. Just relax and understand that networking and socializing is how human beings work. This is why there are Rotary, Lions, Chambers of Commerce, etc.
Also, you'll find out that certain non-business groups also have strong business connections. For example, did you know that Rugby is considered a 'gentleman's sport' in Japan and many of the spectators and supporters of local Rugby are in fact well known businessmen. Or that the nascent cricket organization here is largely populated by computer engineers? Or that the IndianSociety in Tokyo also represents thousands of computer people? Use your imagination and do your homework - clubs and associations in Japan can really open up opportunities for you.
Terrie Lloyd is the founder of DaiJob Inc. He also writes a weekly newsletter for entrepreneurs and business people, about business and political opportunities in Japan. You can find the newsletter at www.terrie.com.
For further contact with Terrie, email him at email@example.com.