Finding a Job in Japan24 February 2020
“How do I get a job in Japan?” Foreigners ask this question all the time. The people wanting to live and work in Japan have hit a high record in recent years, but finding a job there isn’t getting any easier.
You’re dealing with a completely new country where all the rules you knew are being thrown straight out of the window.
Remain Conservative in All Ways
If there is one rule that you cannot break, when job hunting in Japan, it is to remain conservative. If you go to an interview with your hair spiked up, or colored (no matter what the color is), then you are bound to be rejected. To Japanese, the dress code at work, and all that surrounds it, is of primary importance. You will not win a popularity contest by showing your personality in a job interview, on the island. On the contrary, it will guarantee a refusal.
That means you should be wearing a basic black suit and shoes to match. No splash of colors should be found on you, when you walk in. If your overcoat is a bit too flashy, leave at the door. Women should not overdo make-up. You should aim for a natural look, as much as possible. Again: Anything that stands out too much regarding the way you are dressed, or your hairstyle, or anything else on you, will be judged negatively, and sufficiently enough for you not to be considered for the available job. If you wonder what you need to look like, then aim to be yourself, without any add-ons. That is what Japanese are looking for.
Job Search Websites
There are a couple of ways for people to find jobs in Japan. The easiest and most common approach would be to search for jobs online. There, you can find which Japanese companies are hiring and what types of jobs are available. Some websites even have useful information and content about living and working in Japan, in addition to job listings.
Here are two useful websites for foreigners to find a job:
Jobs in Japan
This website was established by an American who moved to Japan in 1998. It has around 200 job listings available. It allows you to search for jobs by industry, location, language level, employer type, keywords, and more.
This website is quite useful as you can also search by the availability of work visa sponsorship in the off chance that you need a visa. The site itself doesn’t have a lot of job postings, but it’s still quite helpful because if you’re a foreigner in Japan, especially since it’s made by a foreigner who lives and works there.
This is a consulting company that specializes in the employment of foreigners. It offers employment support for both students and entry-level workers, as well as mid-career workers and employers. Although the website allows you to search for jobs, it may be wiser to register with them and receive free career counseling and full support for employment.
Language Teaching Jobs
Teaching is one of the easiest jobs you can get in Japan as a foreigner. There are different types of these jobs in Japan, including teaching at private language schools and international schools.
Private Language Schools
If you’re a native English speaker, English-teaching jobs are very easy to get, especially in large cities. For other languages, on the other hand, positions are a little more limited, but they are still available at private language schools if they provide courses for that language.
Any major private language school would be able to issue you a work visa, and they tend to have more and better job opportunities because of the various branches in different cities.
International schools are another excellent option for language-based teaching, as they offer relatively higher salaries. However, it’s also relatively harder to get a position there. You would require a higher education diploma, particular certificates, and experience in teaching or education if you’re even considered any type of teaching job in an international school.
If you want to find office jobs or white-collar jobs in Japan, the job search websites described in the first section would be the first place to look. Depending on which professional skills and the amount of experience you have, and of course what type of job it is, it could definitely be advantageous if you have Japanese language skills. Not only does it make it easier to communicate with customers, but it’s also quite helpful in establishing strong relationships with your Japanese colleagues and bosses.
This part is imperative as Japanese work and corporate culture put an equal value on trust and relationship as work performance itself. Being able to establish these meaningful bonds with the people you work with increases your chance of getting a better appraisal and even promotions.
Why is it difficult to find a job in Japan?
Japanese hierarchy doesn’t leave much room for foreign workers
Japanese people are incredibly conservative. It’s almost like a taboo to go to bars and pubs at night without first being invited by a local. This same principle applies to companies. If a local worker doesn’t recommend you first, you’ll face a lot more difficulties in finding a job there.
Understand the local society
You need to be able to fully grasp the subtleties of the country in order to fully succeed in your new job. For example, refer back to section three about building work relationships. Beyond doing your own job, first, you need to think about how working together would only further the company.
You will probably also be tested by your hierarchy at work first. Your superiors might ask you to complete a task that is much below your expertise, like rewriting a file. They do this, not to test your skills, but to test your ability to follow orders.
And although it may be hard to find a job, it’s also quite rare to be fired. Yes, your superiors would rather resort to downgrading you, sometimes even to washing the toilet, than firing you. But remember that determination is the key at this point. It could very well be a test to pass before giving you a promotion.