How to turn that blank in your resume into the inspiring story of your life so far.

Japan has a number of unofficial holidays celebrated by those in the know, usually based on an alternate reading of the date. For example, November 28 is Knee-High Socks Day, and May 10 is Maid Day.

And February 10? Well, if you write it as 2-10, and use the secondary reading in Japanese of ni for 2 and to for 10, you get nito, which sounds just like NEET, the Japanese term for a person not in education, employment, or training, and so February 2 is NEET Day.

While he’s part of the workforce now, our Japanese-language writer Daiki Nishimoto was a NEET for eight years, up until 2019, and  today he’d like to share how he got out of the NEET life.

▼ Daiki

Take it away, Daiki:

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I don’t have much to say. It’s not like I have as many ways to escape being a NEET as there are fingers on a hand, or even eyes on a face. If you’re a NEET who’s looking for a job, the blank in your resume is a handicap, and the only way to overcome it is…

…to fess up and boldly own the fact that you’re a NEET.

That’s the only way. I know it sounds simplistic, and some of you are probably scratching your heads right now, but I’m serious when I say that owning up to your NEET status is vitally important.

So what specifically did I do? I didn’t hide the fact that I’d been a NEET for eight years on my resume and applications. I had no prior experience as a professional writer, so in the “related work experience” section of my application, I wrote “None,” and instead just listed the extremely limited part-time jobs I’d done in the past. I didn’t lie about anything. I may have been a NEET, but I was an honest NEET.

Just doing that would have left my chances of getting a job at basically zero, though, so in the self-introduction section of my resume, I wrote about what I’d been doing during my time as a NEET. Really the only noteworthy thing I’d done was to try writing a novel, so that’s what I wrote about.

Just as important, I also wrote about what I’d learned while doing that. I wrote about how it had helped me learn to focus on a goal, and appreciate the need to keep making efforts toward it. The key was to somehow show some kind of positive trait or ability I could bring to a workplace.

Regardless of how small or insignificant you might think your positive aspects are, it’s important to portray them clearly. You have to be honest too, because if you lie, eventually you’ll get found out. But you need to find something that can give you an edge, and for me that was being boldly, even shamelessly, honest about myself, and my time as a NEET.

If you don’t have any experiences you can talk about from your time as a NEET, then talk about when you were in school. If there’s nothing for you to talk about from that part of your life either, then find some new challenge or project, start working at it, and then write about that in your resume.

Without question, you’re still going to be at a disadvantage compared to people who don’t have such a large blank in their professional/formal educational experience. The only path out of my situation, though, was to create something positive from my time as a NEET.

– – – – –

Daiki is quick to add that there’ a difference between being bold and being arrogant. You don’t want to come off as saying “Yeah, I was a NEET. So what? Wanna fight about it?” Rationalizing or making excuses for why you became a NEET won’t win you any points with prospective employers either, especially if situation was partially your own doing.

Still, it’s important to not beat yourself up over being a NEET, or to feel ashamed of your past. Once Daiki started being open and honest about a NEET, he gradually became able to keep his head up in interviews, leaving a better impression than if he’d spent the entire conversation acting meek and hesitant. Even when he got turned down for jobs, he felt less regret because he’d done all he could, leaving him with more energy to start looking for another position to apply for, until eventually he graduated from being a NEET by securing a paying job.

Once again, Daiki wants to make it clear that he’s not saying “Hey, don’t feel bad about being a NEET because it’s a great way to spend your life!” But since you can’t change the past, accepting yourself as a current NEET, and finding something, anything good that status has led to, then being confident enough to put that front and center when you present yourself, is how Daiki took the first step towards the future he wants.

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[ Read in Japanese ]