Preparing for life after school is a common concern for college students, but perhaps even more of a struggle for Japanese students. This is in no small part due to the peculiar system of shukatsu, or job-hunting, in Japan.
Companies in Japan have a custom of hiring one class of fresh graduates every April. The recruitment season is aimed at college juniors officially starting from winter to the end of summer every year. College juniors who are job-hunting will hope to secure employment within that narrow period of time, else risk an even more difficult time finding graduate employment in their final year.
The process of finding a job in Japan is fairly standardized across different companies. Students first do research on companies they are interested in joining, and then send out standard resume forms found in bookshops called rirekisho to recruiters. They also often go to company introductory events called setsumeikai in black suits to collect information and get to know people in the companies they apply to. And then, if they are deemed promising, they go on a fairly long process of interviews and social events and the lucky ones will land naitei- or a written promise of a job offer. And then students will finally take off for a well-deserved summer break.
This strict process of job-hunting is often described as demoralizing and unnecessarily painful, as students find themselves sapped of energy while applying to as many as hundreds of companies, attending countless job fairs and skipping classes in order to attend job hunting activities.
But reform has been hard to come by. The inertia of prestigious big companies to change their recruitment process is considerable, and many stay neutral or even approve the process of job-hunting as a rights-of-passage for students who want to enter the working world. Moreover, there is a whole industry built around this ritual of job-hunting, from books teaching students how to land their dream job to recruitment agencies holding large job fairs, to even cosmetic companies selling job-hunting-suitable make up kits for college girls. For the near future, shukatsu is likely to stay.