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How did I get a job? Part 1 of 5

Trying to prove yourself as a worthy candidate for full-time employment is challenging. Applicants will need to go through numerous transactions and procedures to attain those all-important positions.

In Japan, foreigners trying to earn full-time jobs experience a different process compared to locals who are applying for the same job title, as they need to compile requirements that Japanese nationals don’t have to.

From learning the native tongue and studying the business culture to finalizing the necessary documents, here’s how many gaijin pursue their new careers and become full-time members of Japanese companies.

Step 1 – Learning the local lingo

Foreign applicants are serious about the possibility of gaining full-time employment in Japan. They do their best to learn the Japanese language first before they apply. Other than a handful of professions, full-time jobs in Japan require foreigners to be proficient in Japanese.

Companies mandate foreigners to take the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) and attain a minimum level of N2, with N1 being the highest out of 5 levels.

All over the world, numerous schools and institutions offer Japanese classes. Learning Japanese before traveling to the Land of the Rising Sun is advantageous towards applicants, as it trains them to communicate smoothly and will most likely impress employers. And indeed, Japanese employers want to be able to talk to the members of the company in the easiest way possible.

To go along with mastering the Japanese language, foreigners also study Japanese body language and gestures like the proper ways of bowing or folding your arms to not offend the interviewers.

Step 2 – Quite the resume

Most gaijin do their best to make sure their resume stands out from several other candidates. Applicants stylize their resume by using eye-catching designs to make the paper more attractive. To demand attention, foreign applicants also use unique but professional formats.

Foreigners put their photographs to distinguish themselves from the rest. Although this is a common practice in Japan, some Westerners may find it unusual for their photos to go along with their resumes.

They also fill up their resumes with their best accomplishments and most notable qualifications. Career milestones and achievements help applicants sell themselves even before the interview and before the employers and applicants meet.

Step 3 – Testing the waters

The wide array of jobs available in Japan is enticing for foreigners. Most foreigners apply for are the jobs English teacher, IT professional, translator, sales staff, banker, service staff, military personnel, and engineer.

While some foreigners prefer the traditional method of looking for jobs in person, many also use the internet. Websites like Jobs in Japan, GaijinPot, and Daijob have all been destinations for job hunts for hundreds of thousands of foreigners throughout the years. They deem it easier as most of these positions can easily be searched and applied for online with just a few clicks.

Aside from signing up on job search websites, foreigners also try to build up their networks by befriending locals and expanding their connections. Japanese companies are more likely to hire foreigners if a Japanese national working within the company has recommended them.

Step 4 – Being cool in the hot seat

Most Japanese companies make foreign applicants go through extremely thorough interviews for them to evaluate the candidates. So, applicants need to do their best from the get-go. Foreigners cannot underestimate the first interview. Do note that many Japanese companies often conduct initial meetings through the internet or video chat.

Interviewers will observe how they’ll perform under pressure. They need to remain calm and keep their poise and answer questions firmly and precisely. Companies will notice how candidates will conduct themselves such as respecting and observing Japanese corporate cultural norms during the interview.

Applicants build on their strong suit during the initial interview and job application process and capitalize off of it by finishing the final interview and hiring stage well by displaying characteristics that the employer wants.

Step 5 – Finishing touches

After a successful final interview, applicants will have to wait for a while and should keep their lines of communication open. Once the companies decide to accept the foreign candidates and give out a COE (Certificate of Eligibility), all they need to do is apply for a working visa.

The government requires foreigners to compile and bring the COE, passport, appropriate photograph, and visa application to be submitted to the Japanese embassy.

Within 5 days, foreigners will have completed the visa application and will be given 3 months to enter Japan from the date it was approved.


How foreigners apply for Japanese companies is different from how Japanese citizens apply for positions, but that hasn’t stopped outsiders from putting their hat in the ring in the hopes of being accepted by Japanese companies.

So, are you considering a full-time job in Japan? Feel free to let us know below. Until next time. Too-da-loo!

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