Finding a job in Japan

Emigrating to Japan is an exciting and challenging thing to do. Japanese culture is so different compared to most Western cultures that you may feel as though you’ve been dumped there by aliens!

The most popular occupation English immigrants take up is teaching. Demand for foreign language speakers has always been high in Japan. Whether you’re a backpacker or a new Japanese citizen teaching is the easiest profession to enter.

If you choose to go down the teaching route, the government’s JET program is handled by Japanese Embassies around the world and some companies, for example the NOVA or GEOS English conversation schools, do most or all of their recruiting overseas. The last few years have seen huge growth in recruitment on the Internet and there are countless sites with job listings.

Helpful sources

Like any big move doing your research is very important to ensure you get the best out of the experience. Once you arrive in Japan the best and most well-established source of job information is the Japan Times newspaper. The best edition to buy is the Monday edition as it contains a large jobs section with the majority of ads aimed at foreigners. Half tend to be for English teachers whilst the rest range from bartender to company executive.

Most jobs for foreigners are located in Tokyo with separate sections for differing regions. The paper costs 150yen and can be bought from most places around the country or via subscription.

Other newspapers to look at are the Daily Mainichi, Asahi Evening news and the Daily Yomiuri.

The internet is also a valuable source of job info. Websites such as, www.findjobsinjapan.com and www.teij.com.

Difficulties

Trying to find a job in Japan is a daunting task. Unless you can speak or read Japanese you will be a severe disadvantage. Before moving to the land of the rising sun it is advisable that you learn at least the basics of the very confusing Japanese language. It’s one of the toughest languages for an English speaker to learn. As well as the usual criteria – qualifications, experience, and age – your visa status will also be relevant to your employment chances.

A lot of companies want to hire someone who already has a valid working visa or who for some other reason doesn’t need to be sponsored by them. Strictly speaking, it is illegal to work while in Japan as a tourist or student but the law is often ignored and rarely enforced as long as you don’t overstay your visa.

Pay and conditions

The average working week in Japan used to be extremely long with a majority of the workforce working 6 day weeks and up to 60 hours a week. Following international criticism this rate was decreased until, now the average working week is around 45hours with most employees entitled to 15days holiday. Japan also celebrates 15 national holidays including New Year’s Day and the emperor’s birthday.

Top tips for finding work

1. Before leaving your home country it will benefit you greatly to learn some Japanese. Knowing a bit of the language will help your job search and allow easier integration into Japanese society.

2. Researching and contacting recruitment agencies may give you guidance and know the best places to job hunt.

3. Make sure you have savings. This cannot be stressed enough. There’s a good chance that you will be spending several weeks, if not months looking for work and you will need funds to survive off of.

4. Use local sources for leads on jobs, newspapers and any new contacts you make can prove invaluable.

5. Have your degree and certificates ready to send to an employer, most will want visual proof that you have the qualifications you claim to have.

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