Jobs in Japan
Unlike in Korea, there are a wide variety of jobs in Japan. If you come over on the Working Holiday Visa you can work in any field you like (except entertainment ie. hostess jobs).
Depending on your education, work experience and Japanese skill level, you can find almost as much job variety as in your home country. These are the most common job types in Japan:
- English teaching in public schools – jobs are mainly in elementary and junior high schools. The hours are usually quite low, generally long holidays, and jobs all around the country (mostly in rural areas). The application process can be long and generally you need to apply from your home country. Check out JET and Interac.
- English teaching at Eikaiwas – teach in private academies, part-time or full-time. Generally teaching either kids or adults. Business English is very common. Hours tend to be longer but the pay is quite good, and there are plenty of positions available in big cities. Eikaiwa’s will even non-native English speakers.
- English teaching at Universities – these jobs are harder to find, and the good ones usually require plenty of experience, and a masters or phd in ESL. Check out WestGate
- Proofreading, copywriting and translation work
- Hospitality: washing dishes, cooking, bar work, cleaning, barista etc…
- Retail: bookstores, gift shops, department stores, international fashion stores…
- IT: IT Engineer, Software Design, Support…
- Corporate: accounting, law, management, finance, sales etc…
- Creative: graphic design, marketing, advertising, web design, app design, illustration, animation, photography, videography, social media…
- Ski Field Operators
- Modelling and Acting
Finding the right job for you
- If you want to do something totally different, why not try teaching English or working in a bar? It might just be the life-change that you’re looking for.
- If you’re worried about having a low-income job, there are plenty of corporate jobs available. Be prepared to work long hours if working in a Japanese company. Alternatively, apply for jobs at foreign companies if you’re looking for a more casual atmosphere.
- If you’re unsure about the job – talk to people who are already working in the field. You could also just try working part-time to see if you like it.
Applying before you leave vs. finding a job on arrival
Obviously securing a job before you leave for Japan would solve a looot of problems, and prevent a lot of stress. But this is easier said than done. You’ll notice that many job ads require that you interview in person. There are 3 main reasons for this:
- The biggest reason for interviewing in person is employers don’t want to waste time with people who may decide not to move to Japan. Some employers will only interview one or two people for a job, so they want to be pretty certain you’ll be able to take the job if offered.
- If you’re already in Japan you probably have a visa sorted, so your employer doesn’t need to worry about the cost and effort of getting you set up.
- If you’re already living in Japan, it’s likely that you can start working immediately. Employers really like this.
Of course there are still some jobs that will let you (or even insist that you) apply from overseas. These include JET, INTERAC and other public school teaching jobs. Also check out WestGate which is a 3-month university teaching programme. If you see a job ad on Gaijinpot or Craigslist stating you need to interview in Japan, there’s no harm in sending an email anyway, especially if you’re definitely going to be in Japan in a few weeks time.
If your plan is to find a job after you arrive, make sure you have everything ready; your CV, interview clothes (you’ll need a suit if interviewing for eikaiwa jobs), your accommodation etc… so you can hit the ground running from Day 1 (ok maybe Day 2!).
- apply for every job you can, even if you think you’re under qualified
- go out to bars to meet new people and expand your networks
- post your CV on the Gaijinpot job board
- advertise yourself on Craigslist
- advertise your services on freelance english-teaching job boards
- send your CV to companies who aren’t even currently hiring – you never know when they might need someone
- walk around your area to find local businesses who could use your services
- talk to your local ward office or foreigner centre – they may know of some part time work to get you started
When we eventually decided to move to Japan, we went all in. We knew we were making a commitment so we weren’t too worried about not being able to find a job – it’s the biggest city in the world after all!
We prepared our CVs (one for English teaching, one for design) beforehand, and emailed them to every company we could find. None of them were interested in talking to us until we actually arrived in Japan.
Three days before leaving, I applied for a part-time design job, and was asked to interview on my 2nd day in Tokyo. Yay!! I actually got the job so once we arrived I didn’t need to go to any more interviews. The only problem; it was 20 hours a week and didn’t pay well, so I was on the lookout for more part-time work.
Rob applied for many part-time teaching jobs and went to a few interviews. It turns out he got the position from his first interview, but it took about 2 months before he could start working and making money. Check out Cocojuku if you’re interested in teaching adults.
We had some good luck when we went to a foreigner’s day organised by the Suginami-ku ward office (the area we moved to in Tokyo). We met an American guy who worked for an NPO, who were paying foreigners to write Facebook reviews about restaurants and shops in the area. Of course we immediately signed up and got started. Not long after, we were designing a website, taking photos and writing proper web reviews for many different places. The money wasn’t enough to pay the rent, but it really helped us get going in those vital first few months. 10 months later and we’re still doing the occasional review 😉
I got my current full-time design job just by applying to a simple ad on Craigslist. It’s a good idea to apply to everything you can – even if it sounds a bit strange! You never know what the company is really like until you give it a try.
Job-seeking websites and agencies
- Craigslist – has the most listings, most variety and most random jobs :p
- GaijinPot Job Board – has the most legitimate jobs
- Linked In
- Japan Association of Working Holiday Makers
- Jobs in Japan
- Work in Japan
Job Application Processes and Tips
I can’t give much advice on applying to JET, Interac, Aeon etc… because I’ve never been through the process. I have read through the process for all of these companies and eventually decided it would take too long and wasn’t worth the effort for me! From what I’ve heard, it’s very important to have a good written statement, and to give an engaging mock lesson at your interview (if you go to one).
In terms of applying for jobs in Japan, pretty much the standard advice applies:
- Apply for jobs on many different websites and in newspapers.
- Search for companies you’d like to work for and ask for an interview.
- Talk to other foreigners you’ve met – they’re likely to know of available positions around the city.
- Advertise your services on related Facebook groups, e.g. Tokyo Graphic Designers.
- Advertise your services on Craigslist.
- Add your CV to the GaijinPot job boards.
- Don’t be afraid to apply for jobs on the smaller or badly designed websites – I found my job on Craigslist!
- Apply for anything and everything you see. There’s no harm in turning down a job later if you find it’s not for you.
- Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back after an interview – this is pretty common especially with eikaiwa jobs.
- Keep your CV and Cover Letter short (no one has time to read multiple pages) and make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors.
- Be on time to your interview, and be polite to the receptionists and interviewers.
- Appear flexible and ready to work hard.
- Depending on the job, you’ll need to wear a tidy suit (men need to wear a suit and tie if applying for an eikaiwa job).
- If you don’t hear back a week after an interview, be sure to email the company. Sometimes they may have simply forgotten to let you know you have the job! This can happen in large, busy companies.
- Be sure to double-check the contract, and check up on anything you’re unsure of before you sign.
Next up: Which visa do I need?
Keep an eye out for the very important next post, with detailed information about every visa you can get in Japan, and application tips.
Do you have any questions about job-hunting in Japan?