Just the thought of working and living life in Japan is pretty exciting and a dream for a lot of people, especially for “gaijin” or foreigners. Japan’s beautiful culture is famously depicted in a lot of movies, TV shows, and other forms of media. Rightfully so, the Japanese people have also earned the reputation of being dedicated to their craft through loyalty, hard work, and passion.
This entices a lot of foreigners from all over the globe to seek opportunities in the Land of the Rising Sun. With more people wanting to live and work in Japan than ever before, foreigners will have to be ready to go through hoops to get that much-coveted job.
In this article, we will be covering the challenges that you might face before you land your dream job in Japan and what things you should consider before sending out that resume and cover letter. Also below is why it’s worth the try.
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Japan is predominantly occupied by Native Japanese speakers. In fact, it was found that Japanese is the 13th most used language around the world in 2019, with approximately 128 million native speakers.
Although a number of Japanese people do practice the English language, research from Cross Marketing Group has shown that about 72% of Japanese people aged 20-49 cannot speak English at all or can only muster up a few sentences, enough to exchange pleasantries. People aged 20-49 are most probably the ones who you’re going to work with.
A lot of foreigners applying for a job in Japan most likely use English as their preferred language. But companies usually require foreign applicants to take the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), where you need to get to a minimum score of level 2 out of 5 levels, with level 1 being the highest attainable level. Since English is not the official language of Japan, learning Japanese could help you solve this conundrum. This might sound like a daunting task but foreigners have done it before.
Sure, you’ve had plenty of Japanese food before. Maybe you’ve even listened to some J-Pop songs and have read about the Japanese corporate culture countless of times. However, getting to experience Japan’s corporate culture first hand is a totally different ballgame.
Take this for example: In Japan, it’s less likely that a company will hire you if you have not been recommended by a local employee within the company. You have to be connected to someone within the company and establish a rapport with them.
That seems like a lot of work for an audition, wouldn’t you say? And even if you do know someone already, a referral doesn’t automatically guarantee a position in the company. The approach to business in Japan is different than in other countries in various ways. It involves more rules and guidelines, but it’s not as challenging as businesses seem to perceive it.
Caution should always be practiced especially when it comes to communication. The thing that you should always remember is to honor the ones who have paved the way for you. You have to treat the bosses or the ones who are in command with the utmost respect. Lastly, observe those working the job that you are applying for to learn how things go.
Simply put, the business culture of Japan is so distinct from the rest of the world that you’d have to really know the ins and outs of the Japanese ways of business to survive.
Working Visa Process
Pros of Trying to Getting that Job
As with any other job-hunting activity, you’d like to view the benefits that come along with working for your potential employer. Here are the general advantages of working for a Japanese company as a foreigner.
Long-term employment has long been a practice for Japanese companies. Japanese employers value loyalty and commitment and rarely terminate people out of their current position in the company.
Unless you breach the rules and expected standards of behavior or get involved in suspicious activity, losing your job is highly unlikely. So, if you’re looking to commit for a long period of time, you are in luck.
The Grass is Greener
Talking about salaries is a sensitive subject for almost everyone. In fact, most companies consider that to be a confidential matter. But in this case, let’s just say that getting a job in Japan presents opportunities rather than just mere compensation.
Consider Japan as one of the countries where you can potentially earn more as an expat than you would at home. This is observed in professional engineering jobs, like the mechanical, chemical, electrical and civil engineering disciplines. If you’re an engineer, it would be great to have that extra amount of income to go along with exploring what Japan has to offer.
Health is Wealth
As an employee, your health and body should be your number 1 priority if you want to commit to a Japanese company. Japanese companies tend to practice working long hours so you better make sure that you are both physically and mentally up to it.
Even as a foreigner working in the country, there’s a chance you may avail of the same insurance as the locals. The Japanese healthcare system is considered as one of the best in the world, so you know you’re in good hands and are going to be taken care of.
Should You Apply?
Is it worth the time and effort? Is it worth the risk? Bet your bottom dollar that it is. Working in Japan will definitely make for a memorable experience in your career. Now the question that remains is: do you have what it takes to weather the storm when it comes to applying and landing a job in Japan as a foreigner? Feel free to update us about your job interview. Good luck!
Motto Japan, the community platform to support foreigners with the foundation for life in Japan, including Japanese study, job opportunities, and housing service. Motto Japan Media will provide a wide variety of information for Japanese fans all over the world, to create a cross-cultural environment and enrich the life of foreign residents in Japan!