The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan



Social Media and the Job Search
LinkedIn is an important tool in the networking toolbox

By John Ghanotakis, Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan

Most young professionals belonging to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) utilize social media in some way. Based on informal feedback to the Young Professionals Group Subcommittee, LinkedIn tends to be the most common online social media tool for professional activities, especially when looking for work.

When I first came to Japan in the mid 1990s, e-mail and the Internet were just emerging as mainstream tools for work. As a young professional, your opportunities were more limited for learning about a company or job opportunities.

Besides reading international publications, working with recruiters, and attending job fairs, you could go to one of the many weekly or monthly networking events. Or, you could use the ACCJ Membership Directory and other similar publications to reach out to members at their place of work.

The Japan Times and other publications had weekly job listings that sometimes covered two full pages and included a number of business jobs for entry level and experienced candidates.

A few employment websites were launched around that time as well. These were all helpful tools, but none of them offered a platform for networking.

Job seekers use LinkedIn to apply directly for jobs advertised, or to conduct searches within the site to see who is working at a company and what types of roles are available. It’s not uncommon to look someone up after meeting them at an event, and even send an invite to connect right away.

A candidate’s LinkedIn profile becomes a live marketing tool to help land a job or at least capture the interest of a potential employer.

As Cliff Rosenberg, managing director of LinkedIn Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia, said at an ACCJ event last year, “You are in essence your own chief marketing officer, and you drive your online professional brand to get to where you want to be.”

The number of Japan-based user profiles (Japanese nationals and non-Japanese residing in Japan) now numbers over 1 million, with a majority of those users being employees at foreign firms.

The last few job offers I have received came through LinkedIn. In all cases, I was in touch with recruiters or even had direct communication with the line managers of companies where I wanted to work.

In some cases, I did not get to meet the first contact person face-to-face until much later in the interview process. For one job, I didn’t meet the person until I had already signed the employment contract!

When looking for contacts online, I was able to begin corresponding with the company via LinkedIn introduction requests from my existing network. I also had success by viewing the profiles and contacting the members of certain LinkedIn groups to which I belonged.

At one point, I was flown to another location in Asia at the expense of the hiring company, to meet a line manager I had contacted via a LinkedIn invitation expressing interest in his department’s activities and the company’s business in Asia. I did not even have to provide a resume, as he just downloaded my LinkedIn profile.

Not all interactions on LinkedIn produce the same positive results, and that is one of the things that has not changed about the hit-or-miss nature of networking in person or online, regardless of the tools being used.

A well-rounded job search includes a number of different components, and social media is now often an important element in achieving success. Nowadays, when you want to know more about a person, instead of saying, “Why don’t you Google him,” we may soon be using phrases such as “I LinkedIn you.”




John Ghanotakis (chair), Amir Khan, and Timothy Trahan (vice chairs) are members of the ACCJ Young Professionals Group Subcommittee.