Finding a job in Japan can be a challenge, especially for foreigners. Our job guide provides information about job searches, contracts and working conditions. Look in the classifieds for available positions and/or post an ad with your profile. Ask questions and share your experiences with other job-seekers in the forums.
From the end of the Second World War until very recently there was great stigma attached to changing jobs in Japan. For Japanese, finding employment was as simple as finishing school and going to work for a major company – the job search was a once-in-a-lifetime event. Now, part-time work (arubaito) is becoming more common, especially among young Japanese, and companies are beginning to offer increased mobility and frequent retraining for long-time employees.
Jobs for foreigners in Japan
Foreign workers generally fall into two categories: unskilled workers who do jobs that the Japanese would rather not do themselves (industrial manufacture, menial labor), and workers with special skills (language teachers, international businesspeople, technology specialists). The Japanese government does its best to protect native job-seekers from unemployment by regulating the arrival of foreign workers. However, English-speakers are in demand – especially as language teachers – and are almost always able to find some kind of work.
Foreigners who do not speak English or Japanese will find it nearly impossible to get a job, and in the business world Japanese skills are a must-have for every applicant.
The best way for foreigners to maximize their employability is to make themselves as flexible as possible. Knowing English, learning Japanese and improving professional skills are good places to start.
If at all possible, you should start your job search long before you leave for Japan. This way you can apply for a work visa before leaving your home country, and you will not have to change visas in Japan. Switching to a work visa from another form of visa (temporary, for example) while in Japan is difficult. Most employers will not bother to hire someone who does not have definite permission to work, and they will be hesitant toward sponsoring a work visa on such short notice.
Job portals for Japan
The websites Daijob and Gaijinpot offer numerous job listings. Daijob also offers a number of advice-style articles on a range of work-related topics under its Career Support Heading. There are also Executive Search Firms like Inventa who are international headhunters specialized in positioning qualified professionals in highly paid jobs.
Depending on your previous work experience, you may have success with an executive recruitment agency such as Alex Tsukada International or East West Consulting. These agencies specialize in matching qualified management applicants with appropriate positions at Japanese companies. You send these agencies a CV and cover letter for consideration, at which point they will decide whether you are representable. The executive recruiting option will be most useful to those with significant prior management experience. As they work with senior employees, executive recruiting agencies are highly effective and confidential.
Numerous Japanese professional associations serve various industries. The Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA) and the Japan Auto Manufacturers´ Association are both examples of major trade associations.
These groups offer industry news and publications, many of which contain job listings. Another benefit to joining (or at least contacting) a professional association is that it may provide you with an opportunity to make personal contacts with colleagues and employers. In the Japanese business world, connections (kone) are a valuable resource, especially for a foreigner. Those Japanese employers or colleagues with whom you can develop personal relationships are far more likely to hire you, and even more importantly, to sponsor your work visa.
If you are looking for a job there are many alternatives but you should start as soon as possible, the Internet is full of resources to find work in almost any carreer, either using job portals or using headhunters finding a job nowadays couldn’t be easier. The most important thing is to persevere and to be confident you can make your dreams true enjoying the work you love.