Want to work in Japan, but don’t know where to start? Finding employment in Japan for international students can be challenging, but it’s also a good opportunity to re-examine yourself and develop various skills which are necessary for your future. It’s very easy to stumble upon challenges during the job hunting process, but it is also very important that you make sure that you stick with your decisions even when you meet difficulties along the way.

Japan’s unique recruitment process is different from the ones you are accustomed to in your home country. Before you start thinking about your career here, it is very important to know the differences and the right process in conducting proper job hunting activities.

The key to finding successful employment is to begin your job hunting activities early and acquire enough information to allow you to get ahead of everyone.

What Do Japanese Companies Expect?

For International Students

There are many different reasons for Japanese companies to hire international students. But the three main reasons are:

  1. To stimulate the workplace by increasing diversity within the company.
  2. To develop overseas business operations and sales.
  3. To secure human resources with different cultural backgrounds and skills to build a more capable workforce.

Japanese Language Requirements

Probably the most important skill that an international student can have is the ability to communicate clearly in Japanese. In terms of day-to-day operations, the amount of Japanese you use will depend on the nature of the industry you work in. However, since the job hunting process consists of listening to company introductions, submitting application forms and multiple interviews, you must speak Japanese clearly to get an official offer.

Most companies evaluate their applicants mostly during the interviews, therefore it will be very difficult for an applicant to acquire a job offer if their listening and conversation skills are lacking. Japanese companies have high standards when it comes to international student’s Japanese proficiency. About 90% of the companies expect international students to be at the Japanese Level Proficiency Test N1 at the time of hiring or N2 level if they are English speaking international students.

International students are listening to company's briefing
Career forum for international students

Skills Employers are Looking For

Aside from having good Japanese skill, Japanese companies are also looking for applicants who have strong communication skills, and vitality. Vitality refers to an individual’s strength to face and overcome the problems and has the enthusiasm to learn new things from the ground up. New college graduates are taught necessary skills and “raised” by their employer. Many Japanese companies are looking more for applicants’ personality than their individual skills at this stage.

Preparing for Job Hunting Activities

Before you even start your job hunting activities, you must first make a self-analysis and evaluate yourself. You could start by asking yourself what are your strong and weak points, what sort of person do you want to be, what are your interests, how others see you, what have you been doing in the past or what are your dreams for the future. Through these questions and by looking back over your past, reflecting on your current self, and visualizing your ideal future self will help you be able to figure out two things:

  1. The type of job that you want to do, and the type of job that you are suited for.
  2. How to make a good impression in your initial application and interview.

This will specifically be beneficial for choosing a job type and for future interviews.

Choosing an Industry/ Job Types

After you decide what type of career you want, choosing an industry should be the first step in narrowing down your options and finding the type of job that suits you. “Industry” refers to the classification of a variety of fields such as commerce, manufacturing, retail, and distribution. Make sure you do yours through research on all the industries and what kind of jobs they offer.

Five steps to examine industries and companies:

  1. Analyze economic and social trends.
  2. Find out what industries are there.
  3. Name all of the industries that interest you and/or that suits your skills.
  4. Find out what other industries/companies that are related to the field of your interest.
  5. Make a list and find out which one are you most interested in and do another in-depth research about that industry.

Job hunting in Japan has many stops including choosing the right industry
Choosing an industry can be tough!

Examining the Different Types of Jobs

Business Strategy

These occupations are required at all types of companies. Individuals in these occupations plan and develop new products and devise sales strategies.

Technologies and Research

Technologies and Research involve researching new technologies and creating products in collaboration with sales and production divisions, within set schedules.

Finance

Finance is only available in the finance industry. Individuals in these occupations utilize their advanced special knowledge of economic trends, stock markets, and financial products in order to operate funds and the capital of individual and corporate customers.

Creative

Creative type of jobs involves artistic works or product creation. Communication skills are required to explain ideas to customers. Graphic designers and UI/UX designers are some of the most popular positions for foreigners in Japan.

IT

With the development and spread of information and communication technologies, there is an increased demand for computer system engineers at computer companies and other companies. This is another extremely popular industry for foreign workers in Japan.

You could find out more in-depth explanation of each industry at JASSO’s Job Hunting Guide for International Students.

Internships

Participating in an internship is one way to get a first-hand experience on jobs that you are interested in. Through participating in an internship not only you could learn valuable knowledge and skills that could help you to advance your future career, but also able for you to find the suitable job for you.

Why is participating in an internship important for job hunting?

Doing an internship before applying to companies is very beneficial for international students because they could experience Japanese labor practices, improve their communication skills. learn the proper etiquette and manners within the company. They could also use the experience and skills they’ve learned on their resume and interviews for companies and figure out what they want to pursue and the type of jobs/industries that best fits their skills set. For international students who have never work in Japan before, it could be really hard to imagine how it’s like working in a Japanese company thus giving them a hard time in getting used to the new work environment.

International students participating to an internship program at Doorkel are working hard on their tasks
International students working hard at Doorkel

Application Process

The method and time to start your application vary from company to company. Some company just requires you to send in your simplified information while others have more requirements such as taking a web test, writing an essay about yourself and a responding to the additional questions they ask you to answers. Below are the steps by steps for the application process. The order of the process for applying for the company is shown below.

Japan's Job hunting recruitment flow for applicants

Start Your Application

  1. Search for companies you are interested in.
  2. Click “apply” to the companies that are within your interest.
  3. Fill out the necessary information needed and response to the questionnaire if it’s needed.
  4. Make sure all the necessary information are all correct and click “submit” to complete the process

Most Common Interview Format For Job Hunting

In Japan, the average amount of interviews necessary before an official offer is 3. While these may vary in type and length, a general pattern can be found:

  • Group Discussion – Usually consists of six students and one Interviewer
  • Group Interview – Usually consists of three students and two interviewers.
  • One-on-one Interview – Usually your typical one-on-one type of interview with the employers.

The end of Job hunting for applicants

Possible Interview Questions

Possible interview questions can range from your personality, interests in the company, and how you spend your free time.

To prepare for your interview, you should research the company you are interviewing for as thoroughly as possible. Be prepared to answer some of the most common questions.

Introduce yourself

  • Explain your strength/weakness
  • Why did you choose to study in Japan?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • Why do you want to work in Japan?
    • For these questions, your answers should mention things from the past as well as your aspirations for the future.

Past Experience and skill-assessment

  • What is your greatest achievement?
  • What challenges or conflicts you’ve faced, and how you’ve dealt with it?
  • Tell me a time that you have exercise leadership?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • How do other people describe you?
  • How do you deal with stress or pressure?

Goals Oriented Questions

  • Tell me about your future goals/career plan
  • What other companies or industries are you applying to?
  • How do you evaluate companies?
  • What is your salary expectations?
  • What questions do you have for me?

Basic Job Hunting Attire / Style

Favorable job hunting styles for man and women in Japan.
For more information about the proper style in Japan, please click here.

In Japan, both man and women must attend interviews in neat attire with no flashy garments or accessories like a colorful tie, jewelry, painted nails, or dyed hair. You should avoid putting anything on you that would make you stand out from the crowd. The most basic knowledge on how to set your self for a favorable job hunting style in Japan are:

  • Undyed hair neatly combed
  • Black suit or Blouse with a black tie and white button-down shirt.
  • Black Shoes
  • Black or brown briefcase/bag is the mainstream (avoid backpacks and casual bags)

Process for Joining a Company

Even if you already got some offers from other companies, you should still actively look for other opportunities. Keep your choices open and don’t accept an offer until you are completely sure that you found the job that best suit your skills set. Good luck with job hunting.

For more information please visit the link for Job Hunting Guide for International Students.