tips for standing out in the job hunting crowd in Japan

Author: J.J.

Tips for Standing Out in the Job Hunting Crowd

So you’ve got everything you need lined up. You have your resume polished. You have your JLPT N2 or N3 qualification. You’ve even taken the time to go over your “Personal PR” and customized it to each unique job position. With full confidence, and a few cups of green tea, you spend a day submitting your resume to a few dozen companies. All there’s left to do is wait.

And wait. And wait.

Eventually all you get back are rejection letters. In Japan, the IT and gaming fields are tough to break into. Being a foreigner, who in the companies’ eyes is a potential flight risk, doesn’t make it easier.

While you can’t change the fact that you are a foreigner, you can prove to potential employers that you are skilled in your area of interest. Here are some job fields and what you can do to stand out against the competition.

Jobs for Designers

Designer jobs are interesting because they are as various as programming based jobs. You have 3D Designers, Character Designers, Environment Designers, the list goes on. While your skills may align to one type (3D vs 2D, humanoid vs landscape) it doesn’t hurt to learn about the process involved in the other.

Learning about what goes into transforming a 2D mock-up into a 3D character teaches the 2D Designer what a 3D Sculptor looks for in a drawing. Having a few years of experience with software like Clip Paint Pro, Photoshop, Maya, Blender, and Unity shows employers that you are familiar with the process of taking a rough drawing and turning it into something that feels polished.

Even with all this knowledge, if you have no professional experience all this work ends up being but a footnote in your resume. Even with solid PDFs or printed portfolios, 3D creations tend to feel flat.

For creative jobs where you want to showcase more than drawings, a portfolio webpage is a great tool. Not only can you upload your 2D images, but embedding rotatable 3D models provides a sense of volume that cannot normally be felt in a screenshot.

Jobs for Game Developers

Japan is known for games. It is the country that spawned the major companies of the 1990s: Nintendo, Sega, and Sony. Getting into one of these large companies takes a good deal of work and patience. Many of them require you to have a small library of published games. But do not fret!

While it is normally impossible to make a AAA game (large scale game published for a console like PS4, Nintendo Switch, etc.) by yourself, making a simple game is highly doable. It can be something small like an arcade or smartphone game made in Unity or Unreal Engine.

Once you’ve made something that showcases your abilities, upload it to Steam, the App Store, or embed it in your resume webpage. As a bonus, many companies will ask you to submit sample code for review so some of the code that went into making the game can be repurposed for submittal.

Jobs for General Programmers

Rounding out the three technical fields of this post are the general programmers: the server engineers, the mobile engineers, and the client side engineers. As a programmer, many times you will be called upon to do a variety of tasks outside of your expertise, so Japanese companies tend to value the ability to learn as much as valuing years of experience. The former is extremely hard to prove on a resume.

One thing that will get you noticed is having a GitHub profile with a few projects. While the projects don’t need to be large, they should show how you as a programmer attack a problem, document your work, and build a project. As with game programmers, these pieces of code can also be submitted directly to potential employers for review.


As someone who has hired people, I can say that the resume can only give half the story. Some words written down on a piece of paper don’t give an accurate representation of the scope of projects you have done or how well you know what you say you know.

Having something visual, whether a moveable 3D model, a simple game, or a runnable project, gives the prospective employer a more detailed look at your capability. Good luck and stay positive. A close friend once reminded me to submit to one hundred jobs knowing you only need one job offer.

Need to know how to write your Japanese resume? Check out some of our previous articles!

By J.J.
Software Engineer and Blogger at TalentHub
Usually coding, writing, or exploring Japan.

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