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How is Job Hopping Seen in Japan?


Nowadays there are as many good reasons supporting a fast pace in job change as there are those that discourage from job hopping.

Here we don’t expect to convince you to take the side of any of these two “schools” of thoughts.

The intention is rather to invite you to reflect upon some ideas, considering the Japanese context.

For starter, let’s take the generally accepted definition of job hopping as the change of jobs within two years of joining a new company, on a frequent basis.

As recruiting company, focusing on foreign job seekers in Japan, you get to learn various reasons why people quit or want to quit their companies. Two of many common reasons are:

a) Because it is the only way to keep on polishing and adding new technical skills [some call for career growth’s sake]

b) Because companies don’t see with good eyes at someone who stays in the same company for too long [the logic being she/he could not get hired by another company because she/he was not seen “attractive”]

It is true that indeed sometimes there is no choice but to move on with a different company, be it because the human relationship (usually with the boss) is irremediably broken, or because it was really the wrong career choice, or because the company indeed sticks to working with outdated/legacy technologies with no foreseeable change [in this last case, indeed there is not even future for the company as it is likely it will be washed out of this world by market forces].

Unless you face similar cases, you will be well advised to hold and think twice before you hurry and start looking for a new workplace, at least in Japan.

Focus and expertise building

Expertise is very beautiful and rosy, but expertise building can even be painful. When entering a new company, just getting used to each other (employer – employee) takes months. Gaining trust and being assigned more responsibilities takes time as well. By jumping from job to job frequently, you always interrupt this necessary adjustment.

Last but not least, can you safely say that you have expertise if you keep on jumping? You might add more items to your skill set or package, which is not bad in itself, but not depth.

What might work in country A does not necessarily work in Japan

Even though there seems to be changes in the way job hopping is seen in Japan, is very likely your CV will not pass the screening stage. The average HR person will question whether you can even stay with them for at least 2~3 years. For instance, when it comes to start up or venture companies, they work on projects that might take around 3~5 years until full maturation. These companies appreciate if employees can stay for that purpose.

Remember, Messy has been playing for Barcelona all his professional life, and not precisely because he is not found attractive by another soccer team.

In conclusion, if you are planning to change job in Japan, don’t do it because of the wrong reasons such as extrapolating the logic that works in your country or because you believe that the faster the job change, the faster the adoption and absorption (to expertise level) of new technologies.

And even if some say that the perception in Japan about job hopping might be changing, it is difficult to see whether there is a real change of perception or whether this is shoga nai because of the severe human capital scarcity in many fields. At least, we came to understand, many Japanese companies still appreciate a lot when someone commits to a project or to the company for a good time.