Gotta Love Those CIRs Part One-Meeting Mr K.
This weekend I happened to be going to Kyushu and one of my managers asked me early Friday morning to interview a candidate living in Miyazaki. We were to meet in Hakata, and I wasn't too happy about interrupting my break until she told me that he was a CIR (Coordinator for International Relations). You see, in our company the letters CIR are a code for "desirable entry-level employee" and our managers eagerly snap them up. Virtually every CIR I've ever met has been outgoing, well organized, helpful, very bilingual, and bicultural.
So what is a CIR? They are one of two categories of young people hired to promote English-language education in Japan by an organization called CLAIR in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and several other ministries. The main category is that of ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers) and right now there are about 5,500 of these people on active duty all over Japan. While ALTs fulfill an important role, I 've found that their schedules and the nature of their work somehow seem to conspire against them acquiring Japanese language skills and/or after-hours skills which might facilitate career advancement after the teaching stint is over. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but that is my overall impression.
CIRs on the other hand are much fewer in number, about 500 people nationwide, and are dispatched to local city offices to function as English-language ambassadors. Unlike the ALT positions, CIR roles are much more loosely defined, and if the person isn't a self-motivated type, they generally will get bored and leave within a year. So our target is those CIRs who have been in the job for at least 2 and preferably 3 years.
I met with Mr.K. from Miyazaki, and certainly I wasn't disappointed. It was a balmy Saturday afternoon, but he showed up in a suit. He had spare resumes with him and presented himself and his interest in my company really well -later even showing me the Internet research he had done and commenting on some of the things described on our website. He shared with me the activities that he was engaged in, which in one sense would indicate how far removed government offices are from the commercial world ---facilitating cultural exchanges and such like -- but also indicating that here was a guy who could organize complicated events and propose, sell, and project manage tours by foreign VIPs to his remote part of Japan. Clearly he had the interpersonal skills and personal motivation to make himself useful and put Miyazaki on the map.
But there was one area that Mr. K. was lacking in, and which would be fatal to a successful job interview if not fixed. Luckily he has 3 months before he needs to make a move and next week I'll go into how he has to prepare himself.