5 tips to increase your chances for landing a job in Japan
Recently I received an email from someone that wants to know how to increase your chances for landing a job in Japan. For me, as a non-native English speaker and on a tourist visa it was very difficult to get a job. There are a few things that can help improve your chances of landing a job in Japan. Keep in mind that some of the reasons why you do not receive offers are not something that you can do about such as not being a native English speaker. I made a list of tips that show what is important to companies in hiring new foreigner staff.
In Japan, certificates are very important and they have certificates for almost anything. Depending on which industry you are looking for a job if you can find a certificate that is used in the industry it may help increase your chances. It might be difficult to pass as most of the exams to get these certificates do not have an English version. In case you cannot pass the specific exams for the industry that you want to join there are still other general exams (for foreigners), which definitely give you a better chance on getting a job.
If you are a non-native English speaker, the best is to take The Test of English for International Communication or also known as TOEIC. The exam is held every month and costs about 60 dollars. Everyone in Japan knows this exam and you can show to employees that you are applying for your English proficiency.
Usually, a score higher than 750 shows that you are capable of using business English and can communicate in an international environment.
The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test or JLPT is one of the most well-known certificates to show your Japanese proficiency. There are 5 levels of proficiency ranked from N5 to N1, with N5 the easiest and N1 the most difficult. The exam is held twice a year in Japan and costs about 50 dollars. Usually, companies require applicants to either have N1, N2 or N3. N4 and N5 are nice to have and shows that you are willing to study Japanese but is not enough to work in a complete Japanese environment.
The larger companies usually do not require you to have a really high Japanese skill. They usually will teach you Japanese in in-house or Japanese is not required for the job. Then there are also have companies such as Rakuten where the employees have to speak English.
A lot of foreigners in Japan get jobs through their network, so it is important to build a network in Japan. If you are in Japan attending a lot of seminars and events to appeal to companies. Some good sites to check out are Meetup, Doorkeeper and Peatix. Most of the events are free and good opportunities to have a chat with foreigners in a similar situation as you or employers searching for new staff.
I had a few job offers through networking events and the jobs that they are offering are usually better than a job as a teacher or a recruiter. It is best to connect with all people you met at the event through either Facebook, Line or Linkedin.
Be in Japan
I started searching for a job in Japan in my own country, but I barely received any interviews. This changed when I came to Japan and suddenly started getting interviews. Companies usually do not want to hire you if you are not in Japan. They usually want to have a direct meeting with you to be able to see what kind of person you are and that you are really willing to leave your country.
Working Visa or Working Holiday Visa
If you are like me coming to Japan to search for a job on a tourist visa, your options will be limited. If you are a native English speaker, you probably can soon get a job as a teacher. In case you are not a non-native speaker, your country might have a working holiday visa program with Japan, then this can help as well. The reason why companies are not willing to sponsor your working visa is that it can take a long time and they want to hire the person soon or their company might not be able to sponsor you. Also, if a company has the choice between someone with a working visa or a tourist visa, it is almost for sure that they will hire the person with a working visa even though you might be a better fit for the position.
As for me, I was also rejected a lot when I told the companies that I was on a tourist visa. I did not even receive the first interview, it was like they have already rejected you just because you do not have a visa. From my experience, usually, the larger companies do not care that much about not having the right visa as their own HR department can take care of the paperwork.
Your professional background is what decides what kind of job you can take in Japan. Things such as your degree have a big impact on the jobs available to you. Keep in mind that for your visa you have to do work that is related to your degree, so if you majored in business, it is almost impossible to get a job as a programmer even though you have some experience.
If you have a computer science degree, you can easily find a job as an engineer. In case you have a degree in business, you can get a job as a recruiter. Native English speakers besides their degree can always get a job as an English teacher in Japan.
Do not give up
I got refused so many times, but I never gave up. You just have to find other ways to appeal yourself to companies. Go to a lot of seminars, networking events and apply for jobs online. As for me, including the time that I was in my own country, it took me about 6 months to get a job (4 months in my own country and 2 months in Japan). At the same time make sure to take the JLPT and if you are a non-native English speaker also make sure to take the TOEIC.
These are my tips on to increase your chances of landing a job in Japan.
If you want to know more about finding a job in Japan, we have three more articles that go into detail about finding a job.
Good luck and if you have any questions, feel free to contact at any time either through email or the comments.