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How Not To Get Hired In Japan

In Japan, job applicants are compelled to attach shomei-shashin or ID photos to their resumes when they send them in. Could we get hired for our own jobs in Japan?

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On a recent trip to BuzzFeed Japan, our colleague Kensuke Seya introduced us to the concept of shomei-shashin.

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Shomei-shashin are ID photos that potential job candidates attach to their resumes when they're applying for a job. According to Kensuke, there are several reasons for this practice:

"Japanese employers require a photo on your resume for identity verification, primarily. But they also need as much material as they can get to make a decision. They will remember the person by the photo."

"First impressions are important here, so you need to wear a suit, fix your hair, and try to make yourself look as good as possible. If you send a bad photo, they will think you are unprofessional!"

This practice was unfamiliar to us as Americans, but we decided to see if we could take photos that were good enough to get us hired for our own jobs in Japan.

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Jack found a booth outside a post office in Tokyo that's specifically designed to take these photos. His pictures came out looking clean, crisp, and professional (if not a little grim).

Unfortunately, at the precise moment this photo was taken, the door of the booth blew open and Jack had to reach across his body to hold it shut, which is why he looks so intense and also why his arm is positioned so oddly. Ultimately, we decided that this would show potential employers Jack's ability to deal with a crisis under pressure, which felt like a net win.
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Unfortunately, at the precise moment this photo was taken, the door of the booth blew open and Jack had to reach across his body to hold it shut, which is why he looks so intense and also why his arm is positioned so oddly.

Ultimately, we decided that this would show potential employers Jack's ability to deal with a crisis under pressure, which felt like a net win.

Tanner had his own problems following instructions, and instead of finding an ID photo booth, went to an arcade in Tokyo's nerd capital: Akihabara. Luckily, arcades in Tokyo have purikura booths.

Purikura machines are designed to make you look as kawaii as possible, and include cute backgrounds, stickers, and overlays on the images.
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Purikura machines are designed to make you look as kawaii as possible, and include cute backgrounds, stickers, and overlays on the images.

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Tanner's pictures came out looking amazing, but the decision to emphasize his qualifications by writing them over the photos was undermined by a catastrophic spelling error.

In another misfire, the unfortunate placement of the word "BABY" – one of the purikura booth's features designed to make photos extra kawaii – made it seem like Tanner was claiming he was a "proffesional baby," which was not an ideal message to send.
BuzzFeed

In another misfire, the unfortunate placement of the word "BABY" – one of the purikura booth's features designed to make photos extra kawaii – made it seem like Tanner was claiming he was a "proffesional baby," which was not an ideal message to send.

We showed our pictures to our coworkers in Japan (including Kensuke's, as a control) to see who they'd choose to bring in for an interview based on our photos:

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But the opinion that mattered most was Daisuke Furuta's, the founding editor of BuzzFeed Japan, and the person who'd probably hire us for our own jobs in Japan.

Would Daisuke hire Jack, who remained a consummate professional throughout the interview process?

Or would he hire Tanner, a complete ass who screwed up his resume photo and couldn't even be bothered to wear a tie to his job interview?

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Daisuke would hire Jack! Obviously! Let this be a lesson to all of you if you're applying for a job in Japan. DON'T MESS UP YOUR ID PHOTO!