Outlined below are some tips and practical advice for anyone considering working in Japan or are here already wondering how to go about job hunting.
How much Japanese do you need to know?
This depends on the type of job and level of interaction in Japanese that it requires. If you are going to be an English teacher you may not need to know much however if you are going to be doing sales with Japanese customers you will need to have a very high level of Japanese knowledge. It’s really about being able to do the job and interacting with the people you need to.
If you want to work at a typical domestic company where the paperwork, computer software, presentations, and verbal communication is in Japanese you will need to apply the efforts necessary to acquire the skills to do so.
It goes without saying that the level of skill you have in Japanese the more options and opportunities you will have.
Japan has a system for testing and certifying your skills in Japanese known as the JLPT. The JLPT is comprised of 5 levels with 5th being Basic and 1st being Native. You can find more information about this by using this link https://www.jlpt.jp/e/about/.
What kinds of Jobs or Work do non-Japanese engage in?
There are a lot more jobs in Japan other than English Language Instruction. Surprisingly you can find non-Japanese working in many career areas and industries though some are more common than others. IT/Technology, Investment Banking Sales and Trading, Finance, Manufacturing, Recruitment to name a few are also common for non-Japanese to be employed in.
It is also true that most foreigners work for ‘Gaishikei’ or foreign companies and for many newcomers this comes as surprise. The common misconception is that after acquiring the necessary language skills Japanese firms will be the ones to hire them but is just not so.
Where do you start you Job Search?
There are several ways to find work in Japan and below you will find some ideas and resources I recommend checking out:
- For those who have the relationship connections you may find that a corporate transfer, academic roles, or foreign government employee transfer are a good option for coming to Japan.
- Language instruction is a common way to enter the job market in Japan. English Teaching is the most common however there are many other languages taught as well. The JET Program (http://www.jetprogramme.org/) is the gold standard for many foreigners with starting careers in Japan. See the links below for resources about this career area:
- For career opportunities such as IT/Technology, Investment Banking Sales and Trading, Finance, Manufacturing, Recruitment check out the links below to learn more about what out there in the job market:
Another critical component to a successful transition to Japan is a proper Visa and is covered in another blog post so please reference that for further information.
This article was written by David Forncrook, who has more than 20 years’ experience in Japan and abroad providing hands-on leadership consulting and augmentation for firms who require strong leadership to deliver their business value.