The number of companies you should apply to depends on various factors, but should always exceed 20 total. Factors include (but are not limited to) your work load and schedule at school, your field of expertise, the kind of job you are looking for, your native language, etcetera. Examples of each:






School Schedule

~@many classes

~@no free days

~@inability to skip lectures

Actively applying to 20+ companies becomes a scheduling nightmare

Less time to schedule in job events,

Problems keeping up with ESfs, schoolwork, studying for Written Test/ Web Test

Literally no time to eat or sleep means getting sick, falling asleep during seminars.

@fewer classes

@free days in your week

@ability to skip lectures

Actively applying to 20+ companies is manageable and recommended.

Flexibility to attend job events

Ample time to write ESfs, study for school

Time to eat and sleep. Staying healthy helps you meet scheduling commitments

Field of Expertise


Number will vary

Technical students typically apply for jobs via mentor recommendation. Itfs a totally different process with different numbers.


 (or mix of both)

Number will go up

Social Sciences/Humanities students apply to more companies because there are more of you for companies to choose from.

Kind of Job

Trade, Makers, Services

Most people apply to 30+

People applying to most kinds of companies will typically start by sending out 30 or more ESfs from the get go.

Bank, Insurance, Holdings

Many people apply to 50+

Banks and the like often have many many rounds to the entry process with lots of testing and lots of cuts. People interested in this field often bulk apply as ESfs are similar

Mass Communications, Publishing

Number may be small,

May be huge if job is not found

The application process is traditionally earlier for Masukomi and publishers. Applicants usually apply to a list of stations/papers they are interested in, and then if that fails, begin Job Hunting with everybody else.

Arts, Apparel, Fashion

Number will vary

Many people find jobs in this field via internship or connections, or because they have a long-held passion in the field.

Native Written Language

exposed to kanji from childhood

Number may stay the same

Youfll most likely pass all of your companyfs tests, meaning you may not need to replace companies in your Lineup as months go by.

no native kanji exposure

Number will grow over time

Youfre going to fail most reading tests because of time constraints. The number of companies you apply to will grow over time as you are dropped by companies at testing.


Once you have started completing full web entry for companies, and have begun filling out your Entry Sheets, reality will begin to set it and applying to more than 20 companies will seem very stressful and at times insane. That said I cannot stress hard enough how important it is, no matter what your criteria or circumstances are, to apply to more than 20 companies.


Using myself as an example, there were two big issues driving my selection process: the first being I wanted to find a job near my man who lives and works in Kyoto, the second being I wanted to work for a company I felt some sort of personal connection to. Additionally I had to deal with having a liberal arts degree, and not having any idea what kind of job I would be good at.

For me, the former meant I limited myself to companies with HQs only in Kansai. ...this narrowed down my search pool pretty decisively. I really donft recommend choosing Location kinmuchi, kinmusaki as a criteria: for one, unless youfre dead set on working in Tokyo or Osaka, it truly limits the number of companies you have to pick from; more importantly, assuming you are interested in sōgōshoku (a career) rather than ippanshoku (a job until you get married, have kids, and decide otherwise), very few companies let you choose where you will be working, and most companies will have you tour a variety of office locations during your kenshū period.

Nonetheless, I had a strong emotional connection to Kansai (my hometown Seattlefs sister city is Kobe) and Kyoto (the location of my high school shūgaku ryokō ), and the blind determination to go for it, so from within that regional pool I picked a lot of makers:Various shokuhin / inryō [food and beverage] makers, ge-mu gaisha [game companies], and denshi buhin [electronic parts] makers. Each and every company was one I felt really connected to for some reason or another; I loved their games since I was a kid, I bought their stuff in the International District and drank it religiously growing up, they had US offices close to where my family lives, I think their cookies make Tokyo Disney taste fantastic, etc etc. I was glooking for a red threadh in everything, and wouldnft settle for any old company.

Well, I ended up only initially applying to 15 companies (and by 15 I really mean 12), having the common problem of not wanting to put myself in a situation of having to go into an interview for a company I had no interest in. Here's the problem I ran into: Of the "15" companies I originally applied to:

ü I was dropped by 4 right at the ES,

ü  one by SPI2,

ü two by Web Test.

ü I was down to five before even scoring one interview,

ü and then I lost one after a group discussion,

ü and one after a group interview.

 In the course of two weeks, my "15" companies were cut into a grand total of 3, and I had failed all my favorites. It was spring and I was suddenly scrambling.


So really it's a math problem. You must apply to so many companies because statistics say you'll be dropped by most, and you cannot afford to waste all your favorite companies on getting used to the process. Whatfs more, many aspects of the process are out of your hands (one test day I had a crazy sinus headache for example), and you'll find that some of the companies you like the most will slip through your fingers as victims of bad luck. Even on your best day, managing a new experience such as an interview or a test can be nerve-wreaking. That is to say, if you land an interview with your favorite company, but havenft experienced an interview yet, you will find yourself arrestingly unprepared. So apply to lots of companies as means of practice, and try to aim to get as many interviews in as you can before the big day with your favorite company.

I am not saying you shoot for the moon and apply to 100 companies at once; more than 20 companies does drive you nuts. Nevertheless I found some blog where this one person was doing 100 at once and their schedule book pages were literally black with ink. I don't know how it's humanly possible, quite frankly... but it did make me understand why some people literally fall asleep in their chairs attending seminars. I guess the important thing is to have lots of companies in the back of your head on tap, so that you can replace holes in your lineup as they come alongMy host mother told me of a son of a friend of hers that failed again and again before finally being accepted by his 80th company, and I feel like that is the spirit that everyone must adopt. After that rough week where I found myself down to three companies, I stuck to a little strategy called the gActive Lineup,h which I have somehow put into 10 steps:


The Active Lineup Strategy

1.      Be honest with yourself and make a list of your 5 favorite companies.

2.      Compile a bookmark list of 50 companies on a Shūshoku site such as Rikunabi,

übookmark 10+ companies with later application dates (accepting applications after March 1),

übookmark 10+ companies with early application dates (due before your favorite company listfs earliest due date)

3.      Complete Pre-entry to all companies with early application dates (theyfll send you information on events and due dates by email).

4.      Complete full web entry to 20 companies: your top five, ten early companies, and five backups. This is your Starting Lineup of companies.

5.      Buy a whiteboard at a 100yen shop.

6.      Write ACTIVE LINEUP at the top, and write the names of your 20 companies, leaving space to write upcoming due dates etc.

7.      Focus on getting into these 20 companies.

8.      When you are dropped by a company, erase it off your Lineup.

9.      When the Lineup has less than 10 names on it, add another name to your Lineup, and complete full web entry for 2 more companies.

10.  Continue to maintain an Active Lineup of 10 companies until youfve found a job.


Keeping a whiteboard with names and important dates on it not only helps you feel on top of things, but keeps you attune to how many companies you have left. I also found it psychologically supportive to be able to erase a lost battle and replace it with a new name so easily. It really kept my spirits going, making sure my Active Lineup never dropped below 10.


How should I go about looking for companies when Ifm not even sure what kind of field Ifm suited for? This question plagued me for most of the Job Hunting process, and I never quite answered it until April (a little late, but better late than never). Blame it on the cold winter weather. For people who want a specific career in a specific field, Job Hunting is much more straightforward. Bankers will be bankers; newscasters will be newscasters; people aspiring to throw weddings will apply to Wedding Companies; people really into shōsha trade companies will apply to their shōsha. But for those of us who get a little bit lost conjuring up our dreams, figuring out ways to apply to companies can be daunting.

You might find yourself in a situation where you are only applying to industries that you glikeh or are ga fan ofh. Well, that was me. And let me tell you it usually doesnft get you very far. Of course, itfs important to be nuts about Disney if you are applying to ORIENTAL LAND (the company that runs Tokyo Disney Resort), but in most cases companies are not looking to hire their biggest fans. Case and point is the Gaming and Amusement industry, who finds more value in hiring people who arenft gamersyou can then help the company better target different untapped demographics with your fresh perspective. In other words, Square doesnft need help selling its games to Final Fantasy fans. I promise, you will have no luck applying to Japanese companies with the sales pitch gI love you, your products are the reason Ifm here!h and even if you have no intentions of coming off that way, it is very easy to fall into this trap. Be conscious of that. I have heard from various HR people about students being hired based on their fanaticism, but they were more than simple aficionados. Rather, the two cases I know of were literal historians on the company historyphilosophers, eventhat were able to articulate fresh opinions about the state of the company to their interviewers. One got into a mega fashion icon, the other a mainstay game company.

If you find yourself in a rut, rather than trying to apply to a specific industry, why not try applying for a specific profession? One strategy I retroactively came across is to find a profession that you think you'll be good at/are passionate about, and then Job Hunt for that profession (rather than for a certain kind of company). For example, say you want to go into HR. Your shibōdōki for any company could then be "I am passionate about going into jinzai bu / jinji bu for these reasons [insert life episode], I read your mission statement and agree with your company's philosophies, I would like to contribute to your companies by helping raise employees that hold your values"

If you havenft already, take a tekisei kensa [personality test] for free on Rikunabi. It will spit out a bellwether for what kind of person you are going to be seen as by interviewers, which is very important in deciding what kinds of jobs are right for you. Ifm a sapo-to yaku apparently. Makes sense that I got an HR job, I guess.