Saturday, April 10, 2021

Want to work at Atlus? Part 1: Recruiting Site Info

Last time we looked at a translation from the Sega Tech Blog, which ended with a note that Atlus is hiring, and interested readers should check out their careers page.

What if we did that? What would it take to get a job at Atlus?

This won't be a full translation since this kind of information is very subject to change, but it will provide a snapshot of what to expect if you ever want to navigate a Japanese company's careers site and apply for a job. Enjoy it!

Disclaimer: I have no connection to Atlus, I'm just taking a look as a curious surfer of the web. All pictures are from the linked recruiting pages, screenshotted early April 2021.

Catherine: Full Body on the wall, Morgana to the side, but front and center under the company logo is... Jack Frost Decarabia!

Here on the home page there's a slideshow of company images, as well as a slick promo video [3.9 MB webm], [105 MB mp4].

At the top, there's a few headers which are common to most recruiting sites. The MESSAGE page has messages to potential applicants from directors and executives about the company and its goals. The ABOUT page has basic facts (name, address, date founded) about the company, and a breakdown of their different departments. Atlus's also has some neat statistics, like the number of titles they've developed and sold, the gender and age distributions of employees, average company tenure, and average amount of overtime work per month (20 hours, which is pretty low for a Japanese company, that's probably why they publish it here.)

Atlus by numbers: over 200 million total copies sold, across 239 titles released (as of October 2019).

There's also a timeline chronicling the company's history.

The History of Atlus. 1989's "Puzzle Boy" ("Kwirk" in North America) was their first title under the Atlus brand.

The PEOPLE page has links to employee profiles (no names, just job titles) introducing what their role is like. There's 13 in total, for both development positions (like designer, programmer, sound composer) and non-development positions (like corporate, sales, licensing). The profiles have interviews, games the person has worked on, example workday schedules, and short Q&A sessions.

This project manager joined Atlus in 2008. His favorite character is Aigis (from Persona 3).

Most companies have some form of the pages mentioned above on their recruiting (or リクルート、or キャリアー、or 採用) site. Atlus's SPECIAL section links to a nice photo gallery of the office space they moved to in September 2018, and to "働くパパママ座談会", a roundtable talk session between "working Mamas and Papas" about what it's like being both parents and company employees.

One of the company meeting rooms

Finally we get to the RECRUIT section, which links to a 待遇・条件 page, giving more detailed information about working conditions and terms of employment, and a Q&A page with frequently asked questions related to hiring. Let's look at the conditions page first. on April 6, 2021

The first section notes that applicants are welcome to apply even if they don't have experience working in the game industry, but if you're not a native Japanese speaker, you need to have Japanese skills at JLPT N1 level (or equivalent). This is the same for nearly all Japanese game companies. Some companies say N2, some say N1, and some (Platinum Games) do also say "we will consider hiring highly experienced and skilled applicants who can communicate in English". But look at what else they say around that:

A couple more from other companies:

I don't think the JLPT is a very good measure of your ability to function in a native Japanese working environment, but that's a topic for a later post. The point is, if you don't know Japanese and you want to work at a Japanese company, you need to learn Japanese (many books have been written on how to do this).

Continuing down the 待遇・条件 page, there's more general employment information for mid-career and contract hires. Trial period for new employees is 6 months, base monthly salary for development positions is in the range of 213,000円~440,000円 (in USD, currently about $1927.62 ~ $3981.94), but for non-development positions the range is slightly higher. They also pay special allowances for late night overtime work, working on holidays, and commuting costs. Raises happen once a year (in April), bonuses are twice a year (June and December) and they've got some kind of "title incentive system" (maybe if the title you worked on does well you get a bigger bonus?). There's no specifics here, but as a general note, Japanese bonuses can be misleading. Sometimes it's unclear if the "bonus" is included in your estimated yearly compensation, or in addition to it. At some places, the company divides your yearly salary into 14 pieces, gives you one each month, then twice a year you get the last two pieces (depending on performance conditions), so it's not really anything extra on top of your expected yearly salary. This depends on the company, so read the fine print if possible.

Anyway, at Atlus, standard work days are 7.5 hours with 1 hour break, though exact hours can vary by position, everyone gets certain days off as well as annual paid vacation days... these kinds of details continue down the page.

Moving on to the Q&A page, which has 23 questions and answers about the application process and the working environment. 

If you aren't selected for a position, please wait at least one year before applying again to the same position. This applies for new graduate positions as well (and please refrain from applying for mid-career positions after you already applied for a new graduate position within the same year).

A lot of this page is repeat information from the previous page, or answering with policies standard for most companies, but there are a few interesting bits:
  • Overseas applicants are welcome, but they need to be able to communicate smoothly in Japanese and they will need to come to Japan for the final interview. 
  • Any information about student intern positions at Atlus will be posted on this recruiting site, or on their recruiting info Twitter account (@ATLUS_saiyo). 
  • For development-related positions, applicants can note which title or series they want to work on at the time of their application and this will be taken into consideration, but depending on suitability, they might start on a different project. Non-development positions (promotion, licensing) will work on various titles. 
  • For employee training and development, they have OJT (On-the-Job Training) for mid-career hires, and new graduates also spend a month in training with all the other new grads in Sega Group. 
  • Also, since Atlus is a part of Sega, employees can participate in other company events like SEGASAMMY College and Sega Development Conference. 

Last header: the ENTRY dropdown links to the same 4 employment categories as the recruiting homepage:
  1. 新卒採用、for new graduates (vocational school, university, graduate school). Hunting for and securing a post-graduation job is a Big Deal for Japanese university students, and this page reflects that. Usually students graduate in March, then start work in April. I'm writing this in early April, so most 2021 grads have just started work, and Atlus has already published application documents and guidelines for 2022 grads. On this page there's an example month-to-month schedule of the screening and interviewing process for different positions, and they're already accepting applications for 2022 programmer grads. There's also data from last year's new grad hires, including a monthly salary model: 2-year vocational school grads make the least (230,347円, around $2,100) and graduate school grads make the most (254,956円, around $2,325). Those numbers are for development positions (planner, designer, programmer) -- the numbers are slightly higher for non-development positions.
  2. 中途採用、for mid-career applicants (people who already have work experience). This is usually where most positions will be listed.
  3. アルバイト採用、for part-time or hourly positions. At time of writing, the only position listed here is デバッガー (debugger), basically playtesting games to find and report bugs.
  4. 障がい者採用、for people with disabilities. At time of writing, the only position listed is 一般事務アシスタント (general office assistant), an hourly position for administrative tasks.
Most Japanese companies big enough to have a dedicated recruiting website break down their employment opportunities into categories like these.

This post is getting long and we haven't even looked at any job postings yet! Those will be in Part 2 (link now updated).

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