Job market Y2K
Students in Japan started shukatsu – job-hunting at the end of their third year, around March. Companies’ recruiters had presentations, where they introduced the company, corporate culture, and available positions. We were advised to visit as many presentions as possible, and then send CVs to as many companies as possible. We wore suits in either black, dark navy, or gray, put on low heels in black, and carried a black shoulder bag. Hair needed to be black, not too long, nor chemically altered. Nails must be cut short with transparent nail polish. A foundation on the face should look almost bare while covering dark circles and blemishes. A Beige or pink lipstick without pearly glitter. Smile, but not too much. Be confident but humble, ambitious but realistic, enthusiastic but coy.
The job market had changed in five years since my sister gave up on the receptionist job. The economy was at the peak of the tech bubble. While giant corporations like Toyota and Sony hired much fewer new graduates than in the pre-depression era, new companies, so-called “venture” whose names we had never heard of, were hiring in hundreds. But many students shunned these “venture” companies because they often lacked in good employee benefits, company-paid training programs, and a structured promotion system. Their offices were located in the most expensive parts of Tokyo, and the staff worked hard 24/7, but the companies sometimes disappeared as swiftly as they appeared or were swallowed by a larger capital. My generation had seen enough of the aftermath of the bubble economy to jump onto the market trend willfully. Many students even opted for lower-yield adult life and became government workers and teachers.