So you have decided to take the leap and start working in Japan. No matter where you seek, there are certainly a large amount of opportunities awaiting you here. Though the process of looking for a job is not easy wherever you are in the world, there are some key things you need to consider before ever writing up your first application. Aside from asking yourself if you are truly ready to emigrate, think about the following points when job searching in Japan:
Getting a job in a Japan is not for the faint of heart. You need what the Japanese called やる気 (yaruki) or “motivation.” If you’re not an organized go-getter, you’re going to have a hard time. Those who find the decent jobs in Japan beyond teaching English are those who have set goals, achieved them, and continued to progress. You have to envision what you want, know how to get it, then do exactly that. Motivation will shine through during your interviews and in applications. If your eyes are shining bright and you’re excited about living and working in Japan, you will do infinitely better than someone who isn’t entirely sure about their decisions.
- Fine Tune Your CV
A general resume or curriculum vitae is great when you’re looking for simple work. But remember, the CV is the first thing a potential employer will see. If it doesn’t exude the motivation, education, and focus Japanese employers seek out, you are going to be overlooked.
Whether you are applying for a job where you’ll be speaking your native language or Japanese, write the curriculum vitae concisely. Keep sentences short, to the point, and avoid going over 2 pages. Also, use bullet points to make it easier to follow.
Describe yourself briefly and target only the aspects about yourself and your history that apply to the type of job you are applying for. Japanese employers prefer people that excel at one thing rather than being good at a dozen things.
Lastly, if you have any competence in Japanese or a component of Japanese culture, like a black belt in Karate or a calligraphy hobby, mention it. By showing you like Japan, you instantly become a more popular candidate.
- Get Educated
Nothing is more beneficial to you than a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctorate degree. Trust me, I learned the hard way after attaining certifications and an Associate’s. You may think a 2-year degree is enough, especially if you’re coming from someplace where you can attain a working holiday visa. But if you truly want to live and work in Japan for the long run, you need at least a 4-year degree to prove you are capable of doing the job you are applying for. If not, you need an insane amount of experience (at least 10 years in most cases), which is probably impossible for twenty and thirty-somethings nowadays.
But beyond the actual paper degree, there is another meaning to getting educated. You need to know about Japan and the visa laws. You need to have some cultural understanding that can help you when garnishing your resume, addressing people during interviews, and finally obtaining the visa of your dreams. Without an ample understanding of how the process works, it will seem like an interminable and frustrating process.
I cannot stress this enough. First, Japan is much bigger than you might think. What looks close on a map may actually be an hour and a half commute away. You do not want that surprise the first day of work. Scout out potential apartments, train lines, the cost of commute, and figure out what your work schedule will be so you can see if where you want to live and work is viable.
Second, Japan is more than the big cities. There are opportunities throughout the country that will suit your needs, so go to Japan and seek out the place that feels most like home. Granted, Tokyo and Osaka are two wonderful starting points; but you might want to teach English in Hokkaido after visiting Sapporo or want to do Information Technology in Fukuoka.
- Gather The Goods
There are certain accessories to your new Japanese lifestyle that are not only going to make your job search a whole lot easier, it will make you seem much more prepared. Once you gather the following goods, you are well on your way to getting hired:
- Residence Card (在留カード) – Obviously, you are not going to have a residence card if you haven’t been hired yet and awarded a visa. But, if you are in Japan as a student, you will be given one of these upon arrival by immigration. This card is going to get you access to much in Japan, especially since part-time work permissions and other things are stamped onto the card.
- Inkan (印鑑) – In Western cultures, we have signatures. In Japan, you can stamp things. Most of the time, you are asked to have a stamp for signing official documents, like when you open a bank account.
- International Driving License (IDP) – If you plan on getting hired by a company that wants you to drive around, you should secure an international driver license beforehand.
- Embassy Card – When planning on doing a long stay in a foreign country, always register with your embassy so that you’re covered in a case of natural disasters.
- Cell Phone – Though texting, SMS, and Skype are widely used, nothing is easier than being able to call someone to schedule appointments and ask for directions. Always have a cell phone with LINE installed. Potential employers will thank you.
- Bank Account – In order to get paid, you are going to need a bank account with direct deposit, and not your home country’s bank account either. Be sure to ask your potential employer if they prefer a certain branch to avoid processing fees.
- Visit or Be in Japan
Many foreigners will nod their heads in agreement with this one. If you are physically in Japan and putting in applications, you get a step up against the overseas competition. This means that you can shake hands, do networking, and see the locations where you would be working. Not only does this help you decide if the places are going to suit you, but it lets your employer see how professional you look, how well you express yourself, and how driven you are.
- Know Some Japanese
Though it is not required, you should know some Japanese. Again, Japan is a country of appearances. You want to essay your ability to rise above and beyond what is expected of you. Moreover, knowing Japanese will simplify many of the procedures that you are going to be exposed to—such as interviews, contract signing, visits to immigration, and even just going from site to site. The more you know, the less of a barrier you will have to climb.
Living and working abroad on this amazing island nation is going to be a triumph worth reaching for. Get your yaruki and start searching job listings now. Make those plans to travel to Japan, then make connections. By making yourself available and showing how much you want to work in Japan, you will succeed. Ganbare!
By Valerie Taylor
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