Somehow (/sigh) it just happened so that I am currently in the process of job hunting. Believe me, it’s not an easy task in Japan no matter if you’re a foreigner or a Japanese! But in this post I wanted to talk about Hello Work, a mythical Japanese organization that claims it will do it’s best to help you find a job.
Well in reality if you’re a foreigner most likely they’ll just shrug their shoulders and send you to some big foreign recruiting agency. I’m pretty sure nobody would even bother to deal with them if it wasn’t for the fact that they actually support you financially during your job hunt. That is if you satisfy their criteria. For instance, you can’t expect anything if you just quit your job because you were sick of it after 2 months. There must be a legitimate reason (the best of them is the so called risutora (リストラ = restructuring or corporate downsizing)) and you must have been paying unemployment insurance. If you didn’t pay anything, then sorry, you’re not eligible. If you quit on your own, apparently you can’t get your unemployment payments immediately and have to wait god knows how long. Tricky. And btw, you can only be getting your unemployment benefits for a limited period of time. In my case it is just 3 months (90 days). That’s how they politely hint you to stop eating that potato salad in front of your TV and actually put on your job helmet, squeeze down into a job cannon and fire off to the jobland.
Anyway, if your previous employer was a ちゃんとした会社 you should get all the necessary documents for Hello Work by mail after about a week of your official termination date. With that stuff and a couple of standard document photos you should venture forth to Hello Work. After filling in some forms the clerk there will also ask for your bank book (通帳), so be careful as Hello Work doesn’t work with Internet banks such as Rakuten. If everything goes smoothly you will be given a few important dates:
1) There will be two 説明会s, gatherings where they explain everything about Hello Work and the process of getting your unemployment benefits. It’s all in Japanese and super boring. But you have to be there as it will show that you’re serious about this and will also count as your first proof of active job search (求職活動).
2) Your first 認定日時, the date and time when you have to visit Hello Work again with a special paper explaining in detail how exactly you are progressing with your job hunting. But don’t worry, for the first time just visiting the above mentioned 説明会s is enough.
If you fail to come on any of these dates you won’t get your money. It’s as simple as this. You will have to come to Hello Work every 4 weeks and give them updates. You need at least two recent job hunting activities each time. And just randomly looking at job ads doesn’t count. It must be something solid like an interview or a document screening process that can actually be verified. Sometimes they also accept seminars on how to be a better job hunter. There are so many of them in Tokyo and what’s more they’re offered for free. If you’d like to know how to create a good CV in Japanese or how to pass interviews like a boss, definitely check with big recruiting agencies like DODA or Recruit, as they have tons of different seminars for job seekers. Even if you’re not that interested, don’t be lazy and go pile up a couple for the good record.
Now that’s what the magical money bringing paper looks like:
a lot of pretty darn personal stuff if you have been working part time or helping someone. If you have, you must specify for how long and how much you got paid. Not sure if they deduct something from you based on that. Better be honest, because who knows. Me? I’ve been too busy sleeping and playing games.
As you can see, the space is very limited, yet they expect you to write everything as detailed as possible. If you had a lot of interviews, my guess is just choose the two best looking ones. They might ask you some questions or even call the companies you’ve been visiting to check on you, so you better not cheat. Also good luck figuring out the answers that are actually applicable to you (took me an hour of browsing different websites to figure out which choice in question 3 (1) actually means recruiting agencies — apparently it’s イ!).
Oh and lastly, Hello Work’s payments are very modest. You can’t really survive on them only, so don’t relax thinking you’re pretty much covered. In my case it’s just 120k yen which is barely enough to cover my rent and electricity/gas/phone/Net for 1 month (yes, I live in a ridiculously expensive for its size apartment… ). But it’s still something, huh.