Finding employment in Japan as a foreigner

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You’ve finished your Japanese language course, you’ve got the right qualifications or work experience and you want to find employment in Japan. The job-hunting process in Japan is probably quite different to your home country, so read on for an introduction to finding work in Japan!

The graduate job-hunting process

The process of finding a 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 university students, this process starts about one year before they graduate and large Japanese companies often only hire once a year during the shushoku katsudo end period in April. 

Expectations of foreigners working in Japan

For foreigners who have studied at a language school in Japan, your best bet for finding employment in Japan is to look for companies that have a need for foreign staff. 

The number of foreign workers in Japan doubled between 2013 and 2017 and continues to grow, so there are certainly opportunities for foreigners to work 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 N2 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!

You should also have at least a Bachelor’s degree – either from your home country or from a Japanese university – in order for a Japanese company to sponsor you. Or if you do not have that, you need to prove you have 5-10 years of experience in a specific industry. 

What work can I do?

There are a number of different work visa categories for Japan that cover a 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 employment in Japan. You can work in translation, interpreting, teaching, hospitality and customer service. 

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. 

Internships may also help you get your foot in the door as they help you get work experience, develop communication skills and they look good on your resume. 

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 an eye-opening experience and with the right experience and background in addition to language skills, you can succeed in finding employment in Japan. 

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

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