You want to Work in Japan? 5 Steps to make it happen!
You want to work in Japan but are not sure what you need to get a job? Follow these 5 steps to cover your bases.
1. Study Japanese
First off: It’s possible to live in Japan without knowing any (or just the most basic) Japanese, at least if you stay in one of the three big metropolitan areas (Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya) or even bigger cities in the countryside (places like Fukuoka or Sapporo).
Tourism, IT, English-speaking companies … even for people who don’t speak Japanese, there are many job opportunities. As far as everyday life is concerned, most street signs come with
English text on them, there are English-speaking services you can use to find an apartment, restaurants have English menus … it’s unlikely that you’ll face big problems.
That being said, being able to speak Japanese comes with a lot of perks. First off, while there are jobs that don’t require Japanese, your options will increase tenfold if your Japanese level is JLPT N2 or higher. In theory, being able to communicate on the respective level is sufficient, but most companies will feel assured when they have something solid like a JLPT score.
Aside from jobs, you will have access to more options for housing, internet, and other contract-based “basic lifeline” stuff as well. While it’s not always the case, services that specifically cater to English-speaking foreigners are often more expensive or limited in scope. Being able to speak Japanese can save you quite a bit of money.
Last, but not least, you’ll be able to experience the culture and daily life on a much deeper level if you know Japanese, and it’ll be easier to make friends. So don’t let all those kanji scare you and start learning!
READ ON Remembering Kanji – Four Methods Compared
2. Have a university degree
One of the “hard requirements” for moving to Japan is a university degree. Any degree will do – what type of working visa you’ll get will depend on your skills and your job at the company that hires you. But in 90% of cases, you’ll need one.
There are ways of obtaining a working visa without a degree, but they either require a lot (10+ years!) of experience in a very specific field or lots of money (visa self-sponsorship). Depending on where you live, going back to university for three years and picking up a BA might be the shorter and cheaper route. Another recent option is the Specified Skilled Worker Visa for jobs in specific industries that are facing labor shortages like like caregiving, construction, or hospitality.
READ ON Specified Skilled Worker Visa – Door to Japan
3. Get to know the country
Most people have one, maybe two core motivators that make them want to move to Japan. Pop culture like anime, manga, games and music is arguably the biggest “magnet” that pulls people in, but there are others, like martial arts or the language (turns out that if you want to perfect your Japanese, living in Japan will help you quite a bit).
It’s OK – helpful, even – to a have a clear idea of what part of Japan you’re attracted to. However, when thinking about moving here, it’s useful to take a step back and think about how much you know about the country.
The pop-culture image delivered through media like games and anime, and the exotic lens we are used to watch Japan through, simply don’t prepare people much for what Japan is actually like. Chances are that there are some blind spots in your perception. This can easily lead to wrong assumptions about how living in Japan will be like and, in turn, disillusionment.
By no means do you have to be an expert on every aspect of Japanese society to live here. However, if you want to work in Japan, give your dreams a reality check before embarking on your new life. You can follow Japanese news (English news outlets like The Japan Times or Japanese sources like NHK Easy), visit the country for a short trip, or do in depth-research and imagine yourself commuting to work, getting groceries and exploring the country in your time off.
However, the best way to make sure whether you really live in Japan is coming here for a mid-length stay (6 months to one year) and experiencing everything first-hand. Popular options for “reconnaissance stays” are the Working Holiday visa, the JET Programme, internships, or short courses at Japanese Language Schools.
4. Have a plan for work & your career
It might be obvious, but: If you want to live in Japan long-term, you have to work. Contrary to common perceptions, it’s completely possible to find a job with reasonable working hours. However, even then, work will take up a decent chunk of your daily life. It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to do.
Ideally, getting a job (any job) just to live Japan shouldn’t be your end goal. Sure, English teaching jobs are easy to get, but unless you intend to leave again after a few years, you should think further than that. Otherwise, you risk not having anything to build on when you eventually go back to your home country (or stay here and want to move into a different field).
If you’re still a student, lack of experience is not as big of a problem as it is in places like the USA or Europe. As long as you have new graduate (新卒, しんそつ) status and decent Japanese skills, you can find companies that will train you on the job.
To find these companies, you’ll have to go through the traditional Japanese job search routine. You can attend career forums or apply to companies directly. This Japanese job hunt (就職活動, しゅうしょくかつどう or 就活 しゅうかつ for short) comes with its set of quirks and things you might find weird or even irritating – a set schedule being only one of them.
READ ON Shuukatsu – How Japanese Students get their Jobs
Many Japanese companies consider whether a candidate will be able to adapt to the new environment before making hiring decisions. Regardless of where you are from, or what brought you to Japan, show that you understand Japanese business manners and can follow the rules.
Learn how the Japanese recruitment system works, time your applications correctly, know the manners, find out how to write a great resume, and figure out what companies here are looking for. Not only will you avoid rookie mistakes, you can show adaptability and respect, and the likelihood of successfully making it through your job interview goes through the roof.
5. Search in Japan
No matter how well prepared you are, getting a job from abroad is difficult. Many companies don’t even allow people from outside of Japan to apply. Why? Because it comes with a big risk and expenses for the company, to hire someone they never even met. If you are in Japan though, all opportunities are available for you.
Yes, coming to Japan without a job already lined up is a risk and won’t come cheap. On the other hand, networking and meeting people face-to-face is essential in Japan. Being here, used to the country, and able to just drop by for an interview will increase your chances to find work in Japan tremendously.
READ ON Job-sites to get you started.
Nowadays, getting a job in Japan is easier than ever. If you really want to work in Japan, chances are you can make it happen!
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