Job Fairs

Job Fairs

The recruiting business is kind of like a funnel. At the top, at the widest point, you have the job boards and paper media. These companies serve as the first stop in your job search, providing quantity of opportunities, market pricing, and variety. This is good if you’re simply doing research, or getting into the job market for the first time. The idea is to go see a number of advertisers and let them tell you if you’re up to par or not. If you’re not, at least you know what to focus on in terms of career development.

But what media lacks is personality – and after the salary, most people are concerned with the atmosphere and management of the company they’re going to interview with. An ideal solution would be if the job boards had a popularity rating appearing next to each company. However, my guess is that if they did create such a function, the bottom half of the advertisers would quickly stop advertising!

At the pointy end of the funnel, and offering extreme focus, is the world of consulting. Here the process is to carefully match the candidate with the job. Tokyo is jam packed with consultants and these days there is a firm specializing in every sector and at every level.

Consultants don’t charge the candidate and so it costs nothing other than your time to get your resume reviewed, and to receive advice about the current needs of the job market. While this sounds ideal, you need to remember that it's a very active market these days and consultants are typically really busy. So unless you are indeed an ideal fit from the start, it is more likely that your resume will join the pile, and whether you get an interview or not will be up to the law of averages.

The last slice of the funnel works best when you are already somewhat sure of what sector and level you want to work at, but don’t know which company – and that is job fairs. Job fairs give you a chance to meet some of the people working in each company of interest, and to help you form an impression of their values and goals. They are a no-risk and low-pressure vetting mechanism. Basically you intersperse seminars with a walk around the booths of participating hirers, reviewing literature and talking to those that look interesting. If you’re not happy with the response, you simply walk away.

I know that it’s this last point that keeps many people away from job fairs – fearing that that they may be pressured into taking an interview opportunity and not knowing how to say “no”. While this obviously can happen, you’ll find that at most job fairs in Japan the organizers play a big role in setting rules of engagement and making sure that eager hiring firms don’t overdo it. Another balancing factor is that since you’re not the only person walking around, you can use the getting-lost-in-the-crowd move to good effect. Of course, to make sure that there is a crowd to get lost in, a good rule of thumb is to check out how many firms will have booths and multiply this by 10-20 for the expected number of attendees.

Daijob is planning to remedy the dearth of job fairs by launching its own job fair for bilinguals, in March. The fair will be targeting mid-career hires and will feature about 20-30 companies who are in the market for bilinguals. These include the whole spectrum of the market, from brand name multinationals through to IT specialty companies such as my own firm, LINC Media. There will also be a series of seminars on different aspects of career development and techniques for clinching a job.

The Daijob job fair will be held at the Toranomon Pastoral Hotel in Kamiyacho, not far from the US Embassy. If you’re bilingual and in the market for a new job, or simply want to check out some of the companies that hire bilingual people, then you should consider attending. And, yes, I plan to be there.

Find more about the job fair at