Are you tired of the daily slog of getting up and going to work every day at your nine to five job in your home country? Why not spice things up a little, and try working in Japan?
That’s right, just decide, that’s it, quit your job, pack your bags, and head over to the land of the rising sun! An adventurous life awaits you in a country rich with culture, mesmerizing in its natural beauty, safe with it’s low crime rate, advanced in technology and healthcare, and plentiful with all the modern-day conveniences you could ever need.
But in order to do this, first you have to get a job. In today’s article, we’ll be talking about how to find employment in Japan so that you can land the lifestyle of your dreams!
You are no doubt familiar with the way a resume is written in your home country. Here in Japan, however, for recent college graduates and entry-level positions, they use what is called a 履歴書 (里里基所). This translates roughly to “personal record form.” If you are a professional with a lot of work experience, the company may require a 職務経歴書 (shokumukeirekisho), which goes into more detail with the responsibilities and achievements you’ve had in the past.
For the 里里基所, there is a specific format that applicants must utilize that differs from the resume format you may be used to. It’s usually hand-written but may be accepted in digital form if the applicant is submitting from overseas. The specific format is widely available online should the company you’re applying for require one. Though, due to the recent boom in globalization, companies may be willing to accept a Japanese translation of the resume you’re using in your home country, especially if the company is foreign-owned.
Here are some tips when writing your English resume or your 里里基所 (if required):
- Make sure you research the company first so that you know what they require during the application process and any regulations they have in place. It’s also good to know a bit about the company’s goals and how they conduct business so that you can show your interest in working for them.
- Tailor your resume/里里基所 to the position. Don’t just create a general (re: vague) one that you send out to several companies in a mass e-mail. Hiring managers want to know why you are a perfect fit for the position you’re applying for, not that you simply want a job with any company that will take you.
- Schooling and experience must be listed in chronological order. With western resumes, usually emphasis is placed on relevant work experience first, with your most recent achievement/position posted at the top, and your education (less important) somewhere near the bottom. However, in the Japanese format, your education goes first, followed by your first job and on down to the bottom, where you list your current position.
- It’s a good idea to write dates in Japanese to make it easier for the hiring manager to read them. For example, if you worked at a company from May, 2017 to June, 2019, write it like this: 2017年5月～2019年6月. 年 (nen) means “year” and 月 (gatsu) means month. If you want to go that extra mile, you could also write the year according to the Japanese calendar, which coincides with the reign of emperors. For example, the year 2017 is written as 平成29年 (the year 29 in the Heisei period), and 2019 is 令和元年 (the first year in the Reiwa period).
- Include a recent, professional-looking picture of yourself from the shoulders up. You may find this strange, but most Japanese companies require this from all their applicants for security reasons.
- Finally, as with all resumes, don’t forget to proofread before you submit! The Japanese pride themselves in their attention to detail, and even one mistake (no matter how small) in either English or Japanese may make the difference between getting hired or not. So, if you’re writing in English, get a trusted friend or colleague to proofread for you, and if you’re writing Japanese, get a native speaker.
Finding Job Listings
As with your home country, most job listings in Japan can be found online via job search portals. The most common sites are the following.
Just register for an account, upload your picture and resume, and apply to any job that interests you.
As the saying goes, “The early bird gets the worm.” Once you’ve created your account with one (or more) of the above sites and are ready to start applying, get started now! Find out what time new listings are posted every day and be the first person to apply. Ideally you want to be the first e-mail (or at least within the first 20) in the hiring manager’s inbox when he opens it up in the morning. Nobody wants to sift through hundreds of resumes for an entry-level position, so being at the top of the list increases your chances of getting a call drastically. Often times they’ll contact you within a day if you’re quick enough!
Set yourself up for success! Get your resume squared away that adheres to the Japanese standard format to a T; and make sure there are no mistakes. Next, upload your resume to one of the sites above, and don’t forget your professional-looking picture. Finally, be fast! Apply as soon as the job gets posted to avoid getting lost in a sea of applicants.