Finding a Full-Time Job in Japan as a Foreigner

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Laptop screen open to the Jobs in Japan with Go Go Nihon Facebook page which helps with finding full-time jobs in Japan by listing job postings.

If you’ve finished a Japanese language course, graduated from a university, have the right qualifications, and are dreaming about finding a full-time job in Japan, there is a lot to learn about the process. Job-hunting in Japan is probably quite different from your home country, so read on for an introduction to finding a full-time job in Japan!

Three people in suits exchanging business cards.

The process of finding a full-time job in Japan

The process of finding a full-time job in Japan for students is quite long and unique compared with other parts of the world. In Japanese, it is called 就職活動 (shushoku katsudo), or the “activity of finding employment”.  For Japanese university students, this process starts about one year before they graduate, and large companies often only hire new grads once a year during the shushoku katsudo end period in April. 

While it’s not impossible for foreign students who graduate in the summer or winter to find employment in Japan, options will be limited and more competitive, so it’s best to keep the shushoku katsudo period in mind when planning your studies.

Internships may also help you get your foot in the door as they help you get work experience, and develop communication skills, plus they look good on your resume. For international students currently studying at a language school, vocational school, or a university within Japan check out our article on how to find internships and part-time work here.

Expectations of foreigners working in Japan

For foreigners who have studied at a language school in Japan, or a university, your best bet for finding a full-time job in Japan is to look for companies that have a need for foreign staff. 

The number of foreign workers in Japan continues to grow, so there are certainly opportunities for finding a full-time job in Japan.  Usually, companies that hire foreigners are large international brands with teams in Japan, but also Japanese companies that hire international staff to bridge the gap between Japan and other countries. 

These roles typically require at least JLPT N2 level Japanese skills, as well as business-level or fluent English (plus any other language that is helpful for the business). You should be familiar with how to use keigo, or formal Japanese, in both spoken and written Japanese. Additionally, you need to be able to prepare a Japanese resume and cover letter, as well as be prepared for your job interview – including knowing common questions and how to dress!

Obtaining a work visa for Japan

To qualify for a work visa, you need a Bachelor’s Degree (obtained in Japan or abroad) or a specialized diploma from a Senmon Gakkou (vocational school in Japan). If you do not meet this requirement, you may be limited in what you can do after your Japanese studies, even if you have significant work experience.

For those already in Japan studying, the process of changing your student visa to a work visa is straightforward, and gives you more employment opportunities, as some companies are only able to hire and sponsor visas for people already living in the country. If you return to your home country to start the process of finding a job in Japan, your options may be more limited to companies that are able to sponsor visas for those living overseas.

Two students at Tokyo Galaxy business Japanese class, practicing Japanese for finding a full-time job in Japan.

What work can I do?

There are a number of different work visa categories for Japan that cover a wide range of professions such as:

  • Highly skilled
  • Professor
  • Artist
  • Journalist
  • Business manager
  • Engineer/specialist in Humanities/international services
  • Medical services
  • Researcher
  • Legal/accounting services

If you have great Japanese language skills and fluency in other languages (especially English), then the world really can be your oyster when it comes to finding a full-time job in Japan.

If you have majored in something specific at university, you can apply for jobs in that field e.g. engineering, marketing and communications, sales, etc. 

Where can I find these jobs?

Job websites, including our own Jobs in Japan page, recruitment agencies, and LinkedIn are all common advertising platforms for employers in Japan. 

Note that you can look for work in Japan until the very last day of your student visa

Working in Japan as a foreigner can be eye-opening, and with the right experience and background in addition to language skills, you can succeed in finding a full-time job in Japan. 

Further reading about work in Japan

If you like to read more about life in Japan, make sure to follow our blog where we cover everything you need!

Curious to know what it’s like to have a full-time job in Japan before you start applying? Learn more about some of the struggles you’ll face as a foreigner working in Japan, and how to combat them in our article here.

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