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Thought Leader Series: Job-Hunting in Japan: Follow These Tips for Success

Oct 14 , 2015

Philip Beech is an editor of the Japan travel website

Teaching ESL and finance careers remain the two biggest employment areas for foreigners wishing to work in Japan. But now, openings in Information Technology (IT) are growing, both within large companies and small start-ups.

Read on for some tips on how to find a great job in Japan.

Getting Started

The first place to start is to search recruitment and staffing agencies with a Japanese presence. A quick search on Google will reveal the best ones. Check their job listings to get an idea of the sorts of positions and salaries available in your field, as well as the skills and experience necessary to start applying for positions. Some Japanese companies may provide visa sponsorship, but few would meet your reallocation costs, so this is something to keep in the back of your mind.

Many of the vacancies found on IT job boards and staffing agencies may require some knowledge of Japanese based on the Japan-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and the candidate being physically present in Japan.

As it can be difficult to find an IT or programming job in Japan from another nation, it's helpful to relocate to the country on a teaching visa and make a living teaching English until you land your preferred job in the IT world.


Employers and IT recruitment agencies look for skills in various programming areas: C++, Java, Pearl, Python, Ruby and Scala, to name some of the most in-demand areas. Opportunities are also available for developers in gaming both on PCs and smartphones as well as 2D and 3D graphic designers for games.

Jobs with large corporations in IT support and networking will likely require previous experience. The experience sought will often be in finance, or at least a corporate environment. You will, therefore, need to look the part at interview, presenting a professional appearance and demeanor.

Google's first overseas office was in Tokyo, and Google Japan offers a few select positions for software engineers, lead engineers and technical solutions consultants. You never know if you have the requisite skills until you give it a try.

If you arrive in Japan without a position, try to join a network of developers through meetups and user groups. There are a number of these active in the Tokyo area. Networking with like-minded professionals in your industry is one of the best ways to find a job - or to learn the best techniques for landing that job.

Applying for a Job

When applying for any job directly with a Japanese company, a golden rule is to always accompany your CV with a cover letter in Japanese. Also vital is an up-to-date passport-size photograph. If you don't write the language, have a Japanese friend or translation agency write it for you. Sending only a CV written in English - without any explanation in Japanese - won't get you very far.

If you do get an interview, arrive between five and 10 minutes early -don't just be on time. Find out as much about the company interviewing you as possible before the interview.

Don't Give Up!

Finally, if you don't get the job, don't despair. Use the interview as a learning experience; be confident that you'll do better next time; continue networking, meeting up, and socializing with a wide range of people; and keep the job hunt running full-steam ahead.

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