Whether it is your first time working in Japan or you are looking to change jobs, finding a job is an important life decision that should be taken quite seriously. There is no one platform in Japan that has every single job listing, so if gone about incorrectly, you might not even see a job listing that’s perfect for you. This article will introduce seven ways foreigners can look for jobs in Japan, in the hopes that you will be able to find a certain method that fits your circumstances and special traits, making your job hunt efficient and meaningful.
Things You Should Consider When Looking for a Job in Japan
Have you ever felt that you were unable to find a job that fit what you were looking for? That may mean that it’s time for you to rethink how you go about looking for jobs. Different job hunting methods can yield different amounts of information at different speeds, so it’s important to first weigh the pros and cons of each option and then choose the method that works the best for you. Even if you are able to immediately decide on a company or career that you would like to be a part of, by collecting information from a wide variety of sources, you may find some companies and career paths you may have never even considered.
Now, let’s move on to the seven job hunting methods.
1. Use a Job Listing Site
Job listing sites are perfect for people who want to search many different companies’ job opportunities quickly and easily. There are also job sites that specialize in foreign talent, with many different listings that foreigners can apply to. By utilizing the search function, you can narrow down the selections based on job type, office location, salary, preferred Japanese level, and more minute options, with the results sorted automatically for you. As these sites can be accessed 24/7, they are great for searching for your ideal job anytime, anywhere.
The services offered can vary from site to site, but if you create an account, you are often given the ability to save your favorite companies to your personal page, apply to the listings directly through the site, and use their mail function to keep in contact with companies to schedule or adjust potential interview dates. Basically, you can do everything through these websites, from finding and applying to jobs to getting in contact with potential employers.
Additionally, if the website has a job hunting support page, it will often have basic information for job hunting in Japan, such as how to write a Japanese-style resume and Japanese interview manners. There are many incredibly valuable pieces of information that will be invaluable to your job search, so be sure to not overlook this page! It is often free for the site’s members, so if you find a job listing site that you like, it is a good idea to create an account.
Now for the cons: since there is no person to specifically help you with your job hunt, it may be difficult to find answers if you have any questions that may crop up. You can find general questions and answers in the site’s FAQs, but there is a chance that you will not be able to get your personal questions answered. Also, as listings are just text with maybe a picture or two, it may be difficult to gauge what kind of company the employer is with so little to go off of. You may not be able to find out unless you talk to someone who actually works at the company or until having the opportunity to talk to them at an interview. We hope that you not just reference the information published on the site, but also seek confirmation by visiting the company and checking during the interviews.
2. Use a Recruitment Service/Agent
We recommend using a recruitment service/agent for people who are looking for a job that allows them to use a specific skill or their past experience, or that is in a specific field. There are recruitment agents in Japan that specialize in assisting foreign talent, and most of them offer support every step of the way: listening to your needs, introducing suitable jobs, recommending you to companies, scheduling interviews, and helping with negotiating terms of employment.
Recruitment agents are equipped with various knowledge and are well versed in following up with the applicant, having detailed communication with the hiring companies, finding the merits for both sides, and connecting good matches, which limits potential tensions after an applicant enters a company. They can also ask the company about details that may not be written in the job listing. Having a proxy communicate with the hiring companies means that busy job hunters do not have to be anxious about job hunting, as the recruiter will handle most of the communication for you. These services are often free for job hunters, and if it is a recruitment agency that targets foreign talent, their services are also most likely available in multiple languages. They may even be able to introduce you to jobs that aren’t open to the public! In short, there’s a lot of merits to using a recruitment service/agent.
Now for the cons: for one thing, there may be a smaller number of listings that the recruiter is able to offer. Companies that are specifically looking to hire foreign talent will most often use recruitment agencies that specialize in finding foreign talent, but if the company is alright with either a foreign or Japanese employee, it will most likely utilize a large recruitment agency that finds mostly Japanese talent. In other words, even though the listing may be targeted towards Japanese job seekers, if the requirements are met, a foreign job seeker may be hired instead.
Introducing tsunagu Local Jobs – A Recruitment Agency Specialized in Helping Foreign Talent!
tsunagu Local Jobs is a recruitment agency that has many jobs that foreigners can freely apply to, including ones that aren’t released to the public. We have staff from all over the world, so even if you aren’t fluent in Japanese, you can easily use our service. (Supported languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean)
Job seekers can make use of this service for free, so if you’re looking to work in Japan and don’t know where to start, why not give it a try?
▼tsunagu Local Jobs
3. Use Hello Work
Hello Work is a nationally-run employment referral service with offices in every prefecture. Some of the merits are the free job hunting seminars and internship programs. Hello Work offers many seminars, including a seminar with advice on how to gather information and go about job hunting in Japan, ones that detail the kind of knowledge you will need while job hunting, a seminar on how to write a resume and self-introduction, and practice interview seminars. There are also internships available for international exchange students, where you can get hands-on experience at an office during spring or summer vacation. You must be enrolled in Hello Work in order to be able to participate, so be sure to go to the office beforehand and sign up.
Now for the cons: there are only so many offices, and they are only open for so long. The Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Fukuoka branches are able to respond to job inquiries from exchange students who hope to find work in Japan after graduation and specialized foreign workers. Although foreigner support departments are normally set up within Hello Work offices (depending on the place), it may be difficult to find advice from someone who is specialized in helping foreign job seekers if it is not at one of the branches mentioned above. Additionally, as the offices are generally only open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (or 10:00 am to 6:00 pm) on weekdays, it may be difficult for students and people who are already working to be able to stop by. Be sure to keep the location and opening times in mind, and consider checking out Hello Work!
▼Hello Work (Japanese only)
List of Foreigner Employment Service Centers
▼Tokyo Foreigner Employment Service Center
11:00 am – 5:00 pm (Closed on Saturday, Sunday, beginning and end of the year)
21F, Odakyu Daichi Seimei Bldg., 2-7-1, Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
https://jsite.mhlw.go.jp/tokyo-foreigner/home.html (English, Chinese available)
▼Nagoya Foreigner Employment Service Center
https://jsite.mhlw.go.jp/aichi-foreigner/ (English, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish available)
11:00 am – 5:00 pm (Closed on Saturday, Sunday, beginning and end of the year)
12F, Chunichi Bldg., 4-1-1, Sakae, Naka-ku, Nagoya
▼Osaka Foreigner Employment Service Center
10:00 am – 6:00 pm (Closed on Saturday, Sunday, beginning and end of the year)
16F, Hankyu Grand Bldg., 8-47, Kakuda-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka
https://jsite.mhlw.go.jp/osaka-foreigner/home.html (English, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish available)
▼Fukuoka Student Employment Center (Fukuoka New-Grad Support Hello Work)
10:00 am – 6:00 pm (Closed on Saturday, Sunday, beginning and end of the year)
12F, Elgala Office Bldg., 1-4-2, Tenjin, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
https://jsite.mhlw.go.jp/fukuoka-roudoukyoku/hw/fuzoku_kikan/gaikokujin.html (English, Chinese available)
*English and Chinese interpreters available during the times below:
English: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Chinese: Monday, Thursday 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm
*Due to COVID-19, seminars are currently being postponed. For more information, please check the website of the Hello Work branch you wish to visit. (as of July 31, 2020)
4. Apply Directly Through Companies’ Homepages
If you have already decided on a company you would like to work for, you can also apply directly through its website. The advantage of this is that the hurdles you encounter may be lower than if you were applying through a recruiter. When companies look for new employees through a recruiter, they often have to pay the recruiter remuneration when a new employee is hired. In other words, before hiring, a company will decide whether an applicant is worth paying the fee to the recruitment agency. If the same applicant applied directly and there is no third party involved, it is possible that the potential hurdles would lower to a certain extent, as the company would not need to pay a fee when the applicant is hired. Also, for some companies that only hire through their own services and do not use a listing site or recruitment agency, there will be no applicants coming from the latter options, meaning that there will be less competition.
Now for the cons: you do not know when there will be new job listings. Even if new listings come out, there is no one to tell you, which means that you will need to periodically check the company’s homepage or official social media accounts. Also, unlike using an agent, there is no third party to gather information that you may be looking for such as what the office atmosphere is like, so you will need to conduct thorough research yourself.
5. Find Jobs Through Your School
If you are a foreign exchange student, you should definitely make use of your school’s career center and ask them about finding jobs in Japan. The benefit of this is that they should have an assortment of job listings that are applicable to graduates of the school. If a company has a history of hiring students from a certain school, it may feel like it has a grasp of the kinds of students that come out of the school, which means that both parties can be comfortable with the student working at the company. Also, many schools offer internship programs, which can be extremely beneficial for job hunting, and will have a guidance counselor who can give advice on job hunting. They can answer individual questions about how to write application documents and interview manners, so be sure to ask them whatever questions you may have.
Now for the cons: in many cases, if a company offers you a job, you are basically required to take it. When the school introduces a potential job, it is with the expectation that it is a sure “yes,” meaning that it is difficult to apply to many companies at the same time or choose which option suits you best if you are accepted by multiple. It leaves a bad impression of the school if you are offered a job and do not take it, and it is not unheard of for the school to not receive any job listings the following year, so be sure to consider this carefully before taking part. However, even if you receive notice about a job listing from the school, this does not mean that you cannot freely apply to jobs through job hunting sites, so be sure to check with your guidance counselor about how this will affect you.
6. Participate in a Joint Company Information Session
Joint company information sessions are events where multiple companies host booths in a large venue and give introductions and explanations about their company. One of the biggest pros is the fact that you can learn about many different companies in one day! Unlike searching on the web, you can actually have the chance to speak with people who work at that company in person and learn about the atmosphere of the company as well as other information that may not be detailed on the website. As hiring managers are generally present at most booths, you should be able to ask them any questions you may have about the selection process.
Seminars that are helpful for job hunting may also be held depending on the event, so if you plan your day well, you may even be able to prepare for interviews and begin job hunting all in the same day! Joint company information sessions that are targeted towards foreigners are filled with companies that are actively trying to hire foreigners, so they are often available in several languages including English, which is a wonderful opportunity for those who are not fluent in Japanese to be able to listen to and understand the company explanations. Additionally, at these events, you are able to exchange information and knowledge with other job seekers, and may even get a friend or two out of it! Arguably, no other method allows you to make new friends and subsequently job hunt with them.
Now for the cons: you may not be given enough time for a company. Since there are many job seekers present at the joint company information sessions, there isn’t a lot of time to be able to talk with the companies’ representatives. Also, popular companies’ booths will constantly be filled, which means that it may be difficult to hear their information sessions. In that case, we recommend grabbing a pamphlet or other materials and emailing them at a later date, or attending another company’s information session.
*Due to COVID-19, many information sessions have been canceled or moved online.
7. Use Social Media Sites
In recent years, more companies are participating in “social recruiting,” or posting job listings and hiring through social media sites. On their official Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts, companies may post listings, announcements that they have listings available on job sites, or headhunt individuals through their personal accounts. If there is a company that you would like to work for, there is no harm in checking out its official accounts. Also, recently there has been an influx of Facebook communities for expats in Japan, so by participating in a group with people from the same country as yourself, you may be able to find information about niche job listings for which you can use your native language. The pro for this is being able to easily find information just by accessing the social media site, and another advantage is being able to catch news bulletins instantaneously.
Now for the cons: there is a disproportionate amount of part-time jobs and irregular employment listings, meaning that there are very few full-time employment options. Furthermore, most of the listings won’t have detailed information, so those who are worried about that should check the company’s website as well. Finding a job through social media may seem simple, but as both the company and applicant receive little information, it is important to be careful to not create a mismatch. However, as most of the active users of social media sites are from younger generations, this method of job hunting is sure to become more and more prominent in the future.
This article introduced several ways to job hunt in Japan, but you do not need to only go with one. Take your job hunting progress and situation into account, and try multiple methods at the same time… or even just one at a time! We recommend first getting a grasp on the entire concept of job hunting in Japan by checking out job listing sites and recruitment agency sites, and then building a plan to get that dream job!
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By the way, if you're looking for a job or career change and you're already in Japan, we now have a jobs site called tsunagu Local Jobs! On top of having exclusive job listings that you won't find anywhere else, we've vetted all the listings to ensure that they're foreigner-friendly and high quality. If you register for an account on the site, you can even make use of our agent service where our international staff will help you find the perfect job in Japan, so check it out today!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.