Finding a Job in Japan through Job Fairs and Japanese Friends
Can you find a job in Japan without having lived here before? We talked with Earlwin about the challenges of job-hunting Japanese style and how attending job fairs and his Japanese friends helped him get his job.
Read on to find out more about:
✔ Job Fairs
✔ Benefits of working part-time
✔ Importance of Japanese skills
✔ Oral recruitment exams
✔ Why sometimes you just need a chance
Name: Earwlin (23)
Major: Information Technology, Philippines
Japanese level: N3
Work status: New graduate
Job-hunt: 6 job fairs, 3 applications, 4 interviews, 1 job offer
I studied IT, Information Technology, and majored in Web Site Development. I designed websites and did a little bit of network engineering.
I do not have work experience, because I immediately came to Japan after I graduated from university in my home country.
Q: Congratulations on finding a job! Why did you come to Japan?
I am a risk-taker and I wanted to start working here because they say that Japan is a high-technology country. That is why.
At first, it was not easy. First, I went to a lot of job fairs held in Japanese, even to part-time job fairs. Fortunately, a friend of mine introduced me to someone who was looking for an IT guy, so I submitted my resume and they called me for an interview.
I came here for the experience but if I can gradually develop my interests here, I may stay in Japan forever.
Q: Did you already know some Japanese before coming to Japan?
I studied Japanese before coming to Japan but not that seriously. When I came here my Japanese level was around N5 I think, so not that good. Now, I improved a little bit. I understand N3 level, mostly.
Learning at the part-time job
Q: N3 means you can use Japanese in daily conversations?
Yes, I worked in Subway before as well as in KFC as a cashier. I think that pushed me to my limits. Because I’m a risk-taker (laughs).
First, I went to job fairs (for part-time jobs), and then Subway called me in for an interview. They asked me if I can go here at this time, this day, and from there it was all in Japanese. I practiced my Japanese (while working) there.
Q: Your part-time jobs help you feel more confident with your Japanese?
Yes! My part-time jobs helped me a lot because what they teach in school is formal Japanese.
“Outside it’s different because there you hear the casual language.”
One needs to know both but the grammar for them you can learn in class. That way you can combine them.
Learning at language school
Q: Do you feel you made the right choice in going to a language school?
I am happy I chose Linguage Japanese Language School because it is competitive. The learning system here is fast, so it pushes me to read every day, to write and study every day, and of course, the school also helped me to look for a job.
They were suggesting me where to go and introduced around 5 jobs to me. I submitted my resume, but the companies did not call me (laughs). Unfortunately. They were looking for N3 level (and I hadn’t passed the test yet).
My goal as of now is to pass the N3 level. I took it this July and am waiting for the result. I think I didn’t pass but if I did, I will keep studying for N2 level.
I think I’m better at talking Japanese. Reading is my problem (laughs), reading and writing.
My school introduced me to an English company as well, but unfortunately, the company didn’t call me either, I think because I was lacking work experience.
The Job Fairs
Q: You mentioned that you went to quite a few job fairs to find jobs?
I cannot even remember (how many job fairs I went to). Around 6 job fairs. At first, I was just browsing on Facebook and I found a job fair, so I contacted the person in charge and I registered. My school also suggested me to attend job fairs and introduced some to me.
Q: How was your experience at the job fairs?
At the job fair, there are a lot of companies, but it is crowded. You had to line up for companies (at their booth to get a spot). And my time was limited because I had a part-time job to get to, so I only went to companies that weren’t that crowded.
Everything was in Japanese. At first, it was hard because the Japanese you study at school sometimes it doesn’t work outside (laughs).
But before going to the job fair, my teachers practiced how to do interviews, etc. with me.
READ ON Job Fairs: How-To and Dates
At my first job fair, the companies didn’t call me because my Japanese level was so low. But at my second job fair, they called me (for interviews).
“I found job fairs to be helpful.”
First of all, it prepares you for the pressure at interviews. And you start to think about how to use English well because you notice how hard it is to express yourself well in Japanese.
And I think by attending job fairs, you will also appreciate yourself because you have to take a risk. If you don’t push yourself and be confident you cannot find a job.
Q: What did you find difficult during the application process?
Writing the resume was difficult, I rewrote my resume 3 times before submitting it.
My friend also told me: “Hey, fix your resume before sending.”
After I did that, I sent it to my friend, and he submitted it to HR for me.
Actually, I think the interview (was the most difficult) because they asked me a lot of question that I didn’t know. But gradually I worked on it and gained the confidence to answer those questions. Because it’s hard and I’m not quite familiar with it, but with my confidence, I did pass the interview.
READ ON Most common Interview questions in Japan
Speaking of interviews, I got my first interview here in Japan. In the Philippines I did not do interviews, even in school, that’s why every interview that I went to before it I pushed myself to strive hard, I got my confidence me, I think that will take me to places.
The Interview Process
Q: You applied to multiple companies?
Yes. I applied to 3 companies in total. The first was a company from the Philippines but it didn’t align with my study background. I did the interview, but they didn’t call me back.
READ ON What you need to know about Japanese job Interviews.
The second company didn’t work out because they needed (someone at) N3 level. The third company, a friend introduced me to them, called me back, I think because the position was in English. I tried the interview and successfully got the job.
Q: In which language did your company do the interview?
The company interviewed me in English, but I appreciated taking interviews in Japanese as well because it was a challenge for me.
“By doing interviews, I learned how to express myself more and better.”
Because in English we can easily express ourselves but in Japanese it’s not the same. You must study hard and prepare.
Q: What was the interviewing process with your company like?
The company called me for an interview. It was a panel interview with the president, team leader, and the one who introduced me to the company. They asked me a lot of questions like “How do you find Japan and Japanese people? Good?” and of course I had to introduce myself.
During the interview, I also had an oral examination, where they questioned me on critical thinking, IT stuff, etc. Right afterward, they told me that I did good.
READ ON Japan’s most common aptitude tests
I passed the first interview and they called me again to take another test. I didn’t pass that examination because it was for technical engineering.
“Despite not passing I still got a job at the company.”
Not the one I applied for, but I got another job there were offering. I had been applying for a job at the Engineering level. Fortunately, when I couldn’t pass the skills test, they offered another job to me, that had opened up because someone resigned. The open position was in technical support and they put me there (laughs). So, I got a bit lucky.
Speaking of luck, I think it is a result of hard work.
“I went to a lot of interviews, job fairs, and that way I could successfully find the right company.”
Q: What is the company you will be working at doing?
They do support, not only Google applications, but they support also in Fujitsu. It’s kind of like a call center, but an IT call center because we are fixing things, we are debugging code as well as fixing serious application problems. And we are doing many other things as well like support for video meetings, etc.
My work there will be doing technical support for systems and applications. For example, if someone is experiencing problems with Google applications, they will call us, and we will explain to them what’s happening and fix it for them.
Q: You mentioned that you were interviewed in English, so English will be your working language?
The company’s president told me that sometimes I will use Japanese as well, because most of our customers are Japanese and some of them are not talking well in English.
But we get time to take Japanese classes at the company. That’s why I think when I completed the course at my current school, I can continue learning Japanese there.
Q: Are you going to start your job this October?
When I get my visa, I can start my job. They sent me a document that the company will be needing, we will submit that at the end of August. September will be the practicing time, and I think in September if I’m lucky, I will get my visa.
Q: Is there any advice you want to give to others who want to get a job in Japan?
Attend job fairs
Going to job fairs is really important. Because whether the company calls you or not, there is a point in doing it. Because if you are not called it means you have to be smarter, and if you get called, it’s the same. Do your best some more. And just keep on searching and searching.
Network in Japan
And keep your connections live because it may take you places. Chances are you know someone who knows someone who is working here and who’s company just might be looking for someone new to join. I think your connections can get you in touch with companies here, and then you can try to interview with them.
“If you come to Japan, don’t forget to do networking.”
When I’m talking about connections, I mean you have to make friends with Japanese people, so you can practice your Japanese with them. Also, they have Japanese friends, who are working at companies and who can introduce you.
Work on your Japanese
You must work on your Japanese too because it is really difficult to find an English job here in Japan because most are in Japanese. What they need at Japanese companies, you should have at least N3 level for getting in.
And, of course, in school, you should do your best. There you can own yourself, you can craft yourself here, before doing an interview. The school will help you make the interviews go easy.
“Focus on getting the Japanese level first before doing another interview.”
Even an English interview. You should do your best in Japanese first.
You want to work in Japan?
Find out how others got their jobs!
■ Online Application and Apparel, Clemence from France
■ Job Agency and Real Estate, Yulia from Indonesia
■ From Politics to Export, Avazbek from Usbekistan
■ More job-hunting advice from your Senpai