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Our new graduate recruiters answer 10 frequently asked questions (Part 2)

This is the second part of a series in which members of Sumitomo Corporation's Human Resources Dept.'s recruiting team answer 10 questions frequently asked by students about new graduate recruitment. Questions about job assignments, job interview preparation and other topics are answered candidly and sincerely by five employees in their first to third years with the company, all of whom are close in age to people potentially looking for a job at Sumitomo Corporation after graduation.

  • Yuzuki Nakano

    Joined the company in 2021. Since joining, she has overseen new graduate recruitment. Engaged in selection design and the planning and implementation of PR activities such as internships and seminars. She is also involved in branding through recruitment.

  • Akihiro Shimizu

    Joined the company in 2022. While being responsible for everything from recruitment PR to selection, principally in the Kansai area, he is also involved in the planning and operation of internship programs that use design thinking.

  • Satoshi Saito

    Joined the company in 2022. In Japan, he oversees national recruitment PR and selection but also leads recruiting international students from overseas universities.

  • Keita Michimata

    Joined the company in 2023. Principally involved in internships and selection in the Kansai area as a recruiter of new graduates. His focus as a student was studying abroad and strength training.

  • Rei Saito

    Joined the company in 2023. Oversees the recruitment of new graduates nationwide. Among other things, he manages PR activities for regions outside of Kanto and Kansai and for science students. During his school years, he was a part of the lacrosse team.

Q6. Can a young employee get involved in large-scale projects?

Nakano You can measure scale in various ways, but in terms of units or monetary amounts, for example, you can be involved in work that involves several tons of products or tens of thousands of dollars from your first year with the company. I have also seen that Sumitomo Corporation, a Japanese company, takes part in national projects overseas. Many employees, despite being young, are taking on work that affects the entire country.

Saito (Satoshi) If I can share a story from my own experience: last year, my first year with the company, I was running a project to recruit international students from overseas universities. It had been more than a decade since Sumitomo Corporation had targeted overseas university students in the recruitment process, so we were basically starting with no prior knowledge. I was at a loss at first, but my supervisor and team members reached out and we managed to complete the project. It was a grueling experience, but I think I grew a lot.

Michimata You’re going on an overseas business trip next week, aren’t you, Saito-san?

Saito (Satoshi) Yes. I’m in charge of recruiting overseas university students again this year, so I’m going to Boston. This will be my first overseas business trip, but there are many people, regardless of the Dept. in which they work, who are traveling the world in their first year at the company. We also have an overseas dispatch program, which sees more than 100 young people posted overseas every year for language training and other reasons. In terms of expat employees, about one out of every five employees is currently overseas.

Q7. In what way have you grown the most since joining the company?

Michimata I’ve gained project management skills. And I believe I’ve gained the ability to take the lead in completing projects involving multiple stakeholders, including business partners and other Dept.s within the company. I’m now able to take responsibility for an entire project.

Shimizu Speaking skills are also something I didn't have when I was a student. This can mean communicating your opinions or those of your team or company to the outside world. Since we are in the recruiting business, we often make presentations to students, and I think we have gradually become used to doing that.

Michimata The communication skills of students and working adults are quite different. When I was a student, I used to think of people using their communication skills to make a drinking party more fun, but now I think of it more as the capacity to build trust more quickly and deeply. You don't have to be a “yo-kya (cheery person).” (laughs)

Q8. How does Sumitomo Corporation assign people to certain roles? Did you get the role that you had hoped for?

Saito (Rei) Many people in integrated trading and business investment companies—which are involved in a wide range of businesses—may be concerned about the so-called “random assignment,” in that they do not know whether they will end up in their desired work location or department. As regards new graduates, there are three things that determine where they will be assigned. The first is where the person wants to be assigned; the second is the type of personnel each department is looking for; and the third is the individual's suitability from the company's perspective. Decisions are essentially made based on the post-offer assignment interview and the individual's assignment request questionnaire, but the likelihood that the candidate will be assigned to one of their first three choices is about 80%.

Saito (Satoshi) Last year, I saw my boss trying to decide where to assign employees, which was a difficult task for him. To be honest, until I joined the company, I thought the decision would be made through some kind of automated process. But the company does, in fact, strive to make the optimum assignments, considering each person's wishes and aptitudes. I can therefore tell students that they can rest assured that the company has their interests at heart.

Michimata At first, I wanted to work in sales in the electric power field, but I was assigned to the Human Resources Dept. But I knew that I was in an environment where I could build my career independently, so I didn't worry too much about my assignment right after graduation. I’d now like to build my career initially in the HR Dept., where I was assigned as it fits my aptitudes, and from there I'd like to branch out into another field. The Corporate Group, which handles general affairs and accounting, is a good place to get an overview of the entire company. That's why many students want to gain experience there before moving to a sales job.

Nakano Communicating with students daily, we're in a good position to understand how their views on careers are diversifying and see that the way they go about job hunting is changing rapidly. Respecting such diversity in career aspirations, we have decided that, in addition to the existing "OPEN Selection" (*1), we will implement the "WILL Selection" (*2), which guarantees an initial assignment. In this new selection process, job applicants can select one business sector they would like to work in for their initial assignment, such as renewable energy, real estate, or mobility business. The main feature of this selection process is that applicants can apply if they have the 'will' to do so, regardless of what they majored in at university.

Q9. What should I be aware of in an interview at Sumitomo Corporation?

Saito (Rei) The important thing in all interviews, not just at Sumitomo Corporation, is to not embellish things. I did that myself because it's easy to think that interviews are all about trying to make yourself look good, right? But even if you do so and join a company, you can't cover up for your shortcomings all the time, and a company that values skills that you don't have is probably not be a good fit for you. It will surely be easier for you to work for a company that speaks to you as yourself without any embellishments and appreciates you for what you can do.

Shimizu That's very true. You are of course taking part in a formal interview, but I think it is important to think of it as a conversation. It is important to enjoy this conversation with the interviewer rather than over-preparing and giving stiff and rehearsed answers. If you can do that, you can naturally convey your true nature.

Saito (Rei) In particular, at the Sumitomo Corporation interview, they did not just throw questions at me in a question-and-answer format, but rather they asked me questions that drew out who I was in the context of a natural conversation. I think candidates should analyze themselves thoroughly, as you never know when the conversation will dig into a particular thing that relates to you. Then you should be able to relax and enjoy the interview.

Q10. What kind of person is Sumitomo Corporation looking for?

Nakano People who are curious about things are appealing to the company. I’d like people to keep their eyes on what is happening in the company and the people they’re working with, as well as what is happening in society. Some managers ask me about what things are popular among young people, and these conversations can become the seeds of a new business. Another thing that the company is looking for is a positive attitude—someone who keeps going no matter what. Work is not always easy, so it’s important to be able to keep going even when you come across difficulties.

Saito (Rei) I’d like people who have already taken on many challenges to come and work here. Our job is to generate value that does not yet exist in society. From the first year, you’re expected to take on challenges where you'll need to make decisions independently. If you’re not used to that, I don't think it’s something you can learn overnight. It doesn't matter whether someone has succeeded or failed in the past; those who have grown while taking on such challenges will be able to take on new challenges when they enter the workforce.

Saito (Satoshi) I like to see people who have worked hard at something while they were students, not people who have done their best at job hunting. I want to work with people who will continue to work hard throughout their lives, not just for a moment to find a job.


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