Yukari Akahane and Aya Someki / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers

Job hunting officially kicked off on Saturday for university students set to graduate in spring of 2014.

This marks the second year in which company recruitment sessions began in December, later than the previous start date in October.

Reflecting today’s harsh job climate and continuing economic downturn, students flooded the sessions from early morning, motivated to start their searches as early as possible.

Since last year’s change, universities have strengthened their support systems by moving up their seminars for job seekers and their parents.

A long line of about 200 university students had already formed for a recruitment session in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, before doors opened at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.

A junior, 20, at Tokyo Jogakkan College, said: “I attended a job-hunting seminar sponsored by my college before summer vacation, and I’ve prepared as much as I could, including by listening to the experiences of alumni. [As the job-hunting period now begins in December,] I was able to concentrate on studying a foreign language and for a certification exam.”

Meanwhile, a 21-year-old male student said: “I haven’t decided what kind of job I want. I feel depressed.”

Last year, when the job-hunting period was shortened for the first time, many students found themselves unable to cope with the situation and gave up along the way, according to sources.

The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) revised its recruitment guidelines in March 2011. It postponed its member companies’ annual activities, such as accepting online job applications and holding recruitment sessions, until December of junior year. The aim of the change is to secure time for students to focus on their studies.

The notification date for companies to select students through job interviews and exams is April 1 of senior year.

A 21-year-old senior at a private women’s university in Tokyo who faced December last year without having sufficiently researched companies, said, “I couldn’t find a job I wanted [last year].” She plans to give up looking a job this year and instead continue to graduate school.

According to a July survey by Mynavi Corp., a job information provider, targeting university students who will graduate from a university next spring, about 25 percent responded that they still had not found a job that they wanted [as of July].

About 75 percent responded, “It’s necessary to have opportunities to think about all the various industries and professions [before the beginning of company recruitment sessions].”

Mynavi editor Takashi Mikami said: “Last year, a lot of students didn’t understand that they were allowed to start job hunting before companies started their recruitment activities in December. So those who started researching industries early had an extra advantage.”

(Dec. 2, 2012) Yomiuri Shimbun