Job-hunting students primp for success  (Yomiuri, Dec. 5, 2011)

Many of today’s university students–male and female–are making greater efforts than previous cohorts to improve their looks to boost their chances of landing a job.

Male and female students are taking classes on how to dress appropriately, and having professional photos taken with makeup so their resumes will pass the first stage of applicant screening. Experts recommend such courses as a good opportunity to learn about the kind of appearance that will make a good impression in adult society.

Twelve male university students attended a job-hunting support fair sponsored by Nihonbashi Takashimaya department store in Tokyo at the end of October.

“Men’s skin is apt to become rough due to shaving and other reasons,” said a beauty expert at the store. “Some men have shadows under their eyes. By applying proper care every day, your face will gain color and convey the impression you are healthy and ambitious.”

After her explanation, the male students applied skin lotion to their faces. A 20-year-old junior at a private university said, “[I’m interested in basic skin care products] if they’ll help me make a better impression.”

At the event, a first for Nihonbashi Takashimaya, department store staff advised students in male and female groups about how to wear suits properly and arrange their hair.

The courses were free, and 43 students, mainly juniors, attended.

This year, corporations have started recruiting in December, two months later than usual, through a mutual agreement by Japan Business Federation (Keidanren). University students are eager to promote themselves well during the shorter job-hunting period.

One common step is having a good picture taken for their resume at a photography studio. Every year, about 5,000 job-hunting university students visit Studio DI:VA, a photo studio in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo.

The studio is popular because professionals apply makeup, arrange students’ hair in a flattering style and give them advice on their expressions.

According to the studio, the number of male students began to increase from last year. About 20 percent of the students who visit are now men.

If a male student is too fair-skinned, darker foundation is applied so he looks cheerful. If his eyebrows are too thin, thicker ones are drawn to make him look strong-willed.

“It’s important to pass the first screening of resumes,” said Chikako Takagi, chief of hair and makeup at the studio. “If students’ hair is untidy or they have shadows under their eyes in a photo, they may be judged as not competent to handle their own affairs.”

A set of digital photos at the studio costs from 3,990 yen and up, excluding hair and makeup services. Its most popular course provides shots of various expressions, including a serious look and a smiling face.


Proper appearances

Naiteijuku, a Tokyo-based organization that teaches students various job-hunting skills, established a course in 2009 on how to dress properly. Similar courses sponsored by universities are also popular.

Leading cosmetics maker Shiseido Co. has received an increasing number of requests to dispatch lecturers since the economy slowed down in the wake of the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.

The number of requests rose to 450 last year, and this year the company has already received about 130 requests.

Shiseido hair and makeup artist Etsu Nishijima said: “Few people cared about how they looked when the economy was booming, but now it’s important for students to have the appearance companies require. Small things will be the difference between success and failure.”

Young people today are fashionable and good at applying makeup. However, many do not know what kind of make-up and hairstyles are appropriate for suits, according to Nishijima. They also do not dress properly for adult society, he said.

This year, Shiseido published its first makeup guide for female job-hunting university students.

“It’s a good opportunity to review oneself and think about how to present oneself to be accepted by a company,” Nishijima said. “I hope students will tackle job-hunting after boosting their self-esteem through self-reflection.”