Traditionally, Japanese resumes are handwritten on a special form. Recently, however, typed resumes are becoming more common – and one recruiter is not happy about this. Writing anonymously on Japanese website Hatelabo, the blogger, who works for a chain restaurant in Japan and is involved in recruitment, sets out his reasons for why an applicant who submits a typewritten resume should be the first to find their application on the “no” pile.
“You young people, don’t you have any common sense?” he asks of applicants with the typed resumes. “Are you crazy? In my day, this would have been unimaginable!” Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the handwritten CV.
The recruiter’s blogpost is addressed at young graduating Japanese students (shūkatsusei). Obviously, if you’re applying for a job in the English-teaching sector, a resume in English will do you just fine, and no one’s going to ask you to hand-write it for them. But in most other situations, a handwritten resume is still considered to be superior by many. But why?
Being able to write Japanese neatly is – traditionally anyway – considered a valuable skill. The writing system’s complexity means a relatively large proportion of the school timetable is devoted to learning to read and write kanji. A handwritten resume allows the recruiter to make a judgement (valid or invalid) about the education and character of the person who wrote it. It also gives the recruiter who is sifting through an enormous pile of papers an extra way to get rid of a number of them straight away.
▼ Or you could do what this person did and hire based on folder colour.
A handwritten resume is also supposed to illustrate just how much you want the job. Filling out the same form by hand over and over again – in pen, without using correction tape, and starting from scratch if you make a mistake – is extremely time-consuming. That’s supposed to indicate your level of commitment to the application. As our anonymous Hatelabo blogger writes:
“Which would you hire: the student who took the time to write out an individual hand-written CV, or the one who just bashed away at the keyboard for a few seconds?”
Lastly, Japanese people are supposed to write a resume out by hand because that’s just the way it’s done. Japan may have something of a reputation as a futuristic robot wonderland, but when it comes to documentation, paper is somehow considered more trustworthy than digital data.
▼I had literally never even SEEN a fax machine before I moved to Japan.
Our blogging recruiter sees handwriting your application as a fundamental piece of common sense:
“It’s not just that you won’t get the job if you don’t handwrite your resume. It’s that the person who doesn’t understand the value of writing a resume by hand is no use to us.”
The Hatelabo post has attracted attention online – it’s been tweeted over 3,000 times already – as much for its angry tone and eccentric phrasing as for its content. Commenters were weirded out by the writer’s use of language (referring to typed resumes as being made using a wāpuro – word processor – for example), with some even suggesting that the whole thing was a hoax, or had been written by a disgruntled jobseeker.
But most commenters found the whole thing ridiculous:
“I don’t understand why you’d want to hire someone who can’t use a computer.”
“I’d never hire someone who wasted their time doing such a stupidly inefficient thing as handwriting the same thing out over and over.”
“What? People who handwrite resumes nowadays are idiots, aren’t they? Well, he did say he worked at a chain restaurant…”
As the proliferation of computers and smartphones makes handwriting a dying art for many Japanese adults, it seems this is a debate that will run and run.