Working in Tokyo?
How to Get a Job in Tokyo
In case you do decide to apply for a job in Tokyo on your own, you may wonder how extensive your Japanese language skills should be. This always depends on the position you are applying for. As a rule of thumb, one can say that if a certain level of Japanese skills is mentioned in the job description, it is absolutely mandatory.
Applicants are often expected to pass the level 1 exam of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. This can also give you an advantage when you start applying for a visa, as under Japan’s new points-based immigration system, a positive grade at level 1 of the JLPT can give you 15 points towards your application.
Even if the job of your dreams is a position in a multinational company in cosmopolitan Tokyo, speaking some Japanese will be a huge asset. It also helps you to socialize with your Japanese colleagues after work and to make you feel more comfortable in general.
Applying for a Job in Japan
When you apply to an international or foreign company, you usually send in a European-style or US-style application, depending on the HR office’s preference. But if you should apply for a job with a Japanese company, you may be expected to hand in a rirekisho, a standard CV form completed in Japanese.
You can find more information on completing a rirekisho here. However, many specialists and executives include a so-called shokumu keirekisho (details on your employment history) as well. Unlike a standardized rirekisho, the shokumu keirekisho is fully customizable, giving you the chance to describe your qualifications and experience in detail.
Both in the cover letter and in the interview, you should make sure to stress your interest in working in Tokyo and especially for that particular company. The stability of your career should also be mentioned as an important factor. If your CV is not straightforward or if you are planning to pursue a 180° career change, this will be quite hard to explain in an interview for a job in Japan.
Going for a Japanese Job Interview
Here are some additional tips for weathering a job interview for a Tokyo-based company:
- As an experienced employee or specialist, you should emphasize your hard skills in a particular field. Recent graduates, however, should expect to talk about their soft skills at length.
- Japanese HR departments are fairly conservative. Neat business wear and extreme punctuality are a must.
- Being well informed about the company and appreciating its positive image are particularly valuable in Japan.
If you should have succeeded to find a job in Tokyo or if you are sent to Japan on an expat assignment, you will probably be interested in learning more about health insurance and social security. Please refer to our article on working in Japan for these topics.
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