Recruiters given a free rein

March 21, 1997

Japan's annual graduate recruitment season is coming to an end, accompanied by the usual complaints that some companies have failed to keep to their predetermined schedules.

Because the academic year starts in April, companies have traditionally agreed to wait until July before organising informal talks and meetings with students, until August to arrange formal interviews, and job offers are only issued in October.

This month the system, introduced in 1953, is being scrapped to allow companies to contact students whenever they want. Some companies have already said they intend to start recruiting as soon as the new academic session begins in April.

The change is expected to make it easier for students from elite universities to get the most prestigious jobs while making it more difficult for students from lower-status universities.

"The country's economic problems have forced companies to cut back on the number of senior students they hire," explained Toshio Otsuka, a student counsellor. "Leading companies are now looking for a small number of high-quality students rather than a large quantity of students."

Many student counsellors want companies to keep to the existing timetable.

"The scrapping of the present system will result in confusion for students," Mr Otsuka said.

Certainly employers who ignored the agreement in the past were approaching high-flyers as much as 18 months before their graduation dates. Some got multiple job offers.

"Students should have as much time as possible to concentrate on their studies rather than take part in time-consuming scrambles for jobs," said Mr Otsuka. "The fierce competition for jobs will affect students' work and add to their stress-levels."

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