Basic Understanding of Mathematics and Jobs

Time to answer another Japan Guide question here where the author will never see it:

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“I’ve applied for several postings on Gaijin pot and I get a return email saying “up to date, there have been 700 resumes sent to this position” or something like that…
does that mean I won’t be able to find a job?”

To which the very first response is:

“The job market for English teachers is not what it was 10-15 years ago, and it’s quite competitive.”

OK, let’s think about this.

So you put in your application for a job, and Gaijin Pot (a popular Japan job-searching website aimed at English-speaking foreigners) tells you how many other people have applied for that job up to the present time.  You see 700 other applications put in.  I can see how this can be depressing.  But it is entirely misleading.  Lots of people who want to work in Japan are attracted by Japan, rather than the particulars of the work.  In fact, probably most people on Gaijin Pot are thinking this way.  That means that lot’s of people are just going to apply to every job they can, hoping that they’ll at least get one job, because that is all they need in order to live in Japan.  And sites like Gaijin Pot make it very easy to apply to as many jobs as you please very quickly.

Taking a quick glance, Gaijin Pot currently lists 643 jobs, many of which will be single ads for multiple positions.  So we can imagine that even if every job on there has 700 applications put in, there may be as little as 700 people looking for jobs, and if there are 700 jobs, it means that every single person is getting a job.

Now you can argue I’m being a little optimistic here, as probably not everyone is applying to every job, and most likely there are more than 700 people applying to jobs across the whole website (assuming that our 700 figure is not an exaggeration by the question asker).  But many of these people will be falling into other categories like person-who-applied-to-teach-in-Japan-but-then-got-accepted-to-grad-school, or person-who-applied-but-then-the-pay-was-too-low, or person-who-applied-but-then-got-cold-feet, etc.  The point I’m making is that when you look at the pile of applications for a particular job, it is really dumb to assume that every one of the people those applications represent really really wants this particular job with their whole being.  They want it so much that they’re haven’t applied to any other job, have no other plans, and are doing all they can to get just this one particular job that they want so badly for some unexplained reason.  Yeah, that’s not true.

But of course, this discourse happens all the time in the States, too, and rather than dumb it is usually disingenuous.  “Look at this stack of applications,” your boss will say to you threateningly.  “There’s a whole line of people waiting to take your job.”  So you know, shut up, don’t make waves, stop complaining, don’t ask for a raise, etc.  But this only works if your employer is the only one in the world capable of accepting applications.  Even in the States the unemployment rate isn’t 50%; everyone can’t instantly replace their entire workforce (which incidentally would be a disaster even if the unemployment rate was 50%).  Those applications just represent people who are applying to everywhere they think they might possibly be able to manage working at because they need a job.  They’re not lining up outside; on the contrary, they’re probably filling out their dozenth application today at some other place down the street.

So, to sum up, if you’re applying for jobs in Japan (or anywhere), take heart.  Most people get jobs, most people are in work, and most people who try to find work in Japan find it.  It is unlikely that you will be in the small group that is entirely unsuccessful at finding a job here within a reasonable frame of time (and if you don’t have a time limit you will definitely be successful).  If you are even worrying about such things it’s a pretty strong indicator that you will be in the majority of people who get some job.

Of course, getting a job and enjoying a job are entirely separate things….

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