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Social Media Recruitment: “So-Katsu”

Japanese social media
Japanese social media

Activity around new graduate recruitment is very popular in Japan. It takes up most of the last year of University life — getting fresh eyed students ready for a bright future. CV touch-ups, manner reviews, attending seminars, job fairs, buying a low key suit, bag and shoes. For years many things remained the same. But 2011 signaled the beginning of new era for the recruitment scene in Japan in the form of Social Media recruiting and a buzz word called ‘So-Katsu’. So-Katsu is a combination of Social Media and Shu-Katsu (short for Shushoku Katsudou, which means Recruitment activity). So-Katsu allows students to curate information they need and provides a space where students & new graduates can actively have honest discussion.

Many Japanese corporations are running Facebook campaigns such as “We have a limited amount of Facebook only job opportunities” to attract candidates. The list of top corporations with So-Katsu related Facebook pages include companies like Nissay Laboratory, Dentsu, Recruit, Hakuhodo, HIS and Nitori.

Nitori’s So-Katsu page, ‘NITORI NEW GRADUATE 2013’, has 10,428 ‘likes’ as of today. The main feature of the page are the Ustream Live webinars. Nitori’s staff, including the company’s president himself, attend and give talks about the corporation’s history and philosophy. Some people say that 3,000 enthusiastic questions can be gained from the attendees of these type of webinars, whereas in a real life seminar this is hard to achieve.

‘OB/OG visit’ (Old Boy/Old Girl) used to be popular as part of traditional recruitment, students could meet graduated students now working in companies. This has been made popular again with ‘Connection Search’, an app created in collaboration with Facebook and Rikunavi.

A Facebook page organised by Social Recruiting K.K. has been created to encourage Shu-Katsu. ‘Social Shu-Katsu Navi’ has nearly 25,000 ‘likes’. The page operates as a hub for recruitment information rather than running interesting campaigns.

In the Japanese market So-Katsu can be useful for some and awkward for others. It’s only suitable for people who are willing to give away their personal details on the Internet. Intrusive social media functionality such as Twitter’s activity tab might scare off some potential candidates. Also it’s important that students or new graduates have a clean Social Media footprint. Candidate accounts don’t need to be perfect — but would probably need to be ‘appropriate’ for So-Katsu. You couldn’t possibly have a history of writing things that have broken the law or gone beyond the social boundaries. Only those who know how to information check and can draw the line will be suitable for So-Katsu. You can see my other post about Social Media Scandal to see what happens when social media users cross the line.

I have to say I was impressed because we had nothing like this during our University time — I wish we had it. Even though it’s still ‘work in progress’, I can see that Japanese corporations are starting to realise the power of Social Media. In my view, Japan struggles to  provide platforms that match the target audience, they often slightly miss the target. However Shu-Katsu society seems far more open than what we have traditional seen — and it is matching the candidates and employers that use it. So-Katsu is still a new movement in Japan — we can expect to see more improvements this year for the graduates of 2013.

In Japan, traditional recruitment for new graduates can often be very formal and uptight, it’s not somewhere where you could express yourself uniquely. However graduates are expected to show uniqueness — the fallacy of this is that over expression of this can cause companies to think of you as loose or unmanageable.

I am looking forward to seeing some fun, but decent campaigns, to show off the skills of the new graduates and students. Companies now have greater opportunity to see candidate’s honesty and challenging spirit. If Japan wants to create a great workforce to push for a brighter future, I think we can use So-Katsu campaigns to spice things up!

Kana and The JAPAN BUZZ Team

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