Monday, 18 August 2014

Finding work in Tokyo: Resources and advice

Here's a very small and incomplete list of resources and possibles websites for your job hunt in Tokyo:

Things you need to eventually obtain a job in Japan:

  • CV/resumé in English (standard rules for an English/International CV apply)
  • CV/resumé aka 履歴書 / りれきしょ in Japanese
    The format is totally different from what you might be used to, so be careful. Some employers even require a hand-written one! I found this blog post very handy:
  • Passport photos for your resumés and for whatever comes your way (visa applications, official documents, etc). Format is usually 3x4cm.
  • A mobile phone (to confirm interviews etc.)
  • Your Japanese residence card
  • A working visa or working permit. If you are a student, you need to have a special work permit. It is a "Permission to engage in activity other than that permitted under the status of residence previously granted".
    I was able to hand them my application form right at the airport immigration both when I received my residence card, so I saved a lot of time and didn't have to go to the immigration office in Tokyo (loooong waiting times there).
  • Knowledge of Japanese manners and rules for an interview (dresscode, who and how to address, when to bow, etc.)
  • Some skills in polite Japanese (greetings, etc) and preferrably a fluency in Japanese (conversational is ok, business is of course better)
  • A bachelor's degree or higher, just to be safe. It doesn't really matter what major or field, just the degree is usually enough since it's a basic requirement for most visa types. Most part-time jobs don't require you to have a degree though.
  • But most of all, you need a clear idea of what you want to do (see below for more)
  • Equivalently important: patience, a thick skin and a positive attitude

Career/HR company websites:

Part-time job websites:

Teacher job & private student websites:


General advice:

The two "easiest" jobs out there for people new to Japan and with none to little Japanese language skills are English teacher and HR recruiter/consultant. The latter actually requires some more Japanese than the teacher jobs but usually speaking Japanese is only considered a plus, not a strict requirement. As teaching is not for everyone, so is becoming a recruiter which to me is working in sales all over again, just with a different "product" to sell. So if you're not the type for a sales job, maybe becoming a HR consultant is not the best idea. If you interested in meeting new people, connecting them, helping them and making some good money on the way, then it might be the perfect job for you to start.

But one thing is imperative for your job hunt in Japan. Actually for any job hunt but especially for Japan since you are a foreigner in a not-so-foreigner-friendly environment.

You need to be at least be somewhat sure what you want to do and what you do not want to do. What you can do and what can not do. What you are good at and what you are not good at. Assess your strengths and your weaknesses. Make sure you know where you want to be in a couple of months and a couple of years in the future. Be confident about it, even if you're in a state of flux or insecurity. Match your skills to the possibles jobs and choose your path. Don't expect others to choose for you or a job magically fall from heaven. Be honest about your goals in life and for pete's sake please have some when you want to work in Japan.

I made dis!

Don't expect anyone to hire you just because you speak English or because you are a foreigner brave enough to try work in Japan. No one cares if you love Japan sooooo much and enjoy the Ramen and Sushi and the Anime and Manga and the culture and blablabla. Basically, no one gives a shit. Would you hire someone just for their love for your own country? No? I thought so. It's a big plus if you play your cards right and show some understanding and preferrably insight for the culture, but what people ask for here is skills or at least a fancy representation of possibly obtained skills (aka certificate). The rest is all about how you adapt to their system, sell yourself at the interview and eventually perform at the job...more or less ;)