The Inconvenience of Job-hunting
The Inconvenience of Job-hunting
By Kotone Uchida
Translated by Risako Itokawa
The moment the Shu-katsu navi (job-hunting navigation) website's countdown clock struck 00:00, the veil from recruitment guidelines lifted. In that one moment, the bloodbath for reserving company orientations started and everyone including myself, was officially registered for the job-hunting race.
Japanese job-hunting is filled with original unwritten rules and ambiguity, but questioning these doubtful restrictions means no job offers. Although job-hunters realize the stupidity of their predicament, they have no choice but to comply. I for one, was definitely part of that crowd.
For me, 'freedom' is for people to 'have choices, the right to choose, the right to exercise those rights, and not be prejudiced or oppressed because of those choices'. To give you a simple example, let's say you're given an assignment to draw a picture of 'freedom'. Let's say you painted a blue sun. 'Freedom' means there are no rules (oppression) to paint a red or yellow sun, and that no criticism (prejudice) follows your choice of blue.
Does Japanese job-hunting follow this criteria of freedom? Theoretically, due to the decline of the working population, it's easier to get job offers. However, I feel that the fundamental aim of job-hunting being 'a means of achieving the future you imagine for yourself' has been lost. This is because of underlying outside factors immobilizing the system.
For example, social tendencies such as the specified date of the start of job-hunting, the importance of educational backgrounds and being a post-grad, not to mention company name values distracting you from your true goals, create unnecessary job-hunting obstacles. The system is a landmine of the aforementioned lack of choices, prejudice and oppression.
Each is an important problem, but the most inconvenient and pointless one I've had to face, is the job-hunting outfit. One day when I saw my friends from high school, I was wearing a suit. My coat was a long black one my mom had given me; my bag, my cousin's black job-hunting bag. One of my friends who worked at a store selling suits took one look at my outfit and exclaimed, 'You should wear a trench coat! They like trench coats.' Looking at my bag, she added, 'And you shouldn't have gold on your bag.' She was pointing out the gold zipper on my bag. She had simply been giving me advice based on her experience selling suits to job-hunters, but her words came as a shock to me. To think that others had chosen their suits, coats, shoes and bags by listening to similar suggestions made me sick.
Why should we all dress the same? As a woman, my 'dress code' was black hair tied in a ponytail with my bangs pinned up, a black suit, non-glitter natural makeup without winged eyeliner, a beige trench coat, black heels and a black square bag. Why, during interviews, are we evaluated by our personalities, values and skills, only to be judged by our appearance?
This time of year, the city is filled with girls clad in beige trench coats, ponytails bouncing and clicking their heels as if we're surrounded by clones. How many have the guts to go their own way amidst this ridiculous cookie-cutter phenomenon?
Why should we all dress the same?
Why should we all dress the same? As a woman, my 'dress code' was black hair tied in a ponytail with my bangs pinned up, a black suit, non-glitter natural makeup without winged eyeliner, a beige trench coat, black heels and a black square bag.
Nobody can deny that first impressions are important. It's important to dress formally, comb your hair, and iron your shirt. Even your shoes, if polished enough, might send the message that you are a careful person. Looking the part is important. However, whether that image can be a bonus for you depends on your expression, way of speaking and your personality. Every time I meet someone from human resources, they tell me that they don't value appearances so much. In actuality, dressing in the perfect job-hunting outfit isn't that important.
I've worn glittery eye shadow, but not a trench coat. I wore my hair half down instead of in a low ponytail. I was scared and hesitant because I knew everybody else would be dressed alike, but if they said I could dress however way I wanted to, I would dress the way I thought was formal, and polite. I went to interviews in a suit, but otherwise I dressed as I usually did. I still passed, and I felt as though I was able to present myself better.
While I was job hunting, I was against suits purely because I didn’t understand why we had to wear the exact same outfits. Through this article however, I’ve realized that the problem isn’t the outfit itself; it’s the fact that students are forced into thinking that they have to kill their personality to blend in, and that companies and Japanese society silently encourage them.
There are many other issues to be discussed besides the uniformity, but I believe that the problem concerning students’ outfits is easier to solve with the change of individual mindsets. I simply want to call out a warning to the pressure that everyone has to be alike. If that’s preferable, you should go along with it; if not, don’t. It should be that simple. I strongly hope that people carrying the heavy burden of job-hunting can find a little solace in such remote places, so that the task will not be as miserable. Looks exist to emphasize your inner personality; you are the one who ultimately decides which clothes, or companies are right for you.