Living in Japan can be pretty expensive. If you want to stay in Japan for an extended period, living off your savings can become pretty expensive pretty quick. Also, for most long-term visa, getting a job is a prerequisite before you can even apply. Even if you are just a student you may want to look into ways of doing part-time work, among students eating out and partying are pretty common and both of these can become costly, especially if you are in a city like Tokyo.
But how to look for a job in Japan? Part-time work is usually easy to get if you want to be a waiter you just bring your resume, have a short interview and often will be hired on the spot. Being a waiter might not be terribly exciting and the hours can be off-putting. Other part-time work can be found through internet websites or magazines, though expect this information to be mostly in Japanese. In this article, however, I am not going to be talking about part-time work, this article is about how to find full-time positions. In most countries, if you are looking for a job, you will most likely do so via the internet and that is no different in Japan. Many websites exist, that offer job information and other services. Often these websites are hired by what are called “Staffing Agencies”, an article on these can be found HERE. First, let’s have a look at some of the English offerings (by no means am I going to provide extensive lists here, just a quick overview of what kind of website you can expect).
Examples: GaijinPotJobs, Daijob, JobsInJapan
If you are not yet comfortable enough with the Japanese language to search for a job with it, then there are options available to you in English. But, and this might be a big but, if you are looking for a job in Japan in English, chances are that you are going to be offered mainly English teaching positions. Teaching English in Japan is a can of worms that I am not going to open, just hop onto YouTube, Reddit or other social media and form your own opinion on whether teaching English is for you or not. The trouble with English teaching positions is that, unless you are from a country were English is the official language (e.g. the UK, Australia, the USA etc.), you are not going to be eligible to apply for an “Instructor” visa that allows you to teach English in Japan. Even if you are from an English-speaking country, be aware that the teacher market is pretty saturated. In any case, it might be best to not rely on English teaching as your sole ticket into Japan.
If you speak Japanese (Japanese Language Proficiency Test N2 and upwards), another position that will often be available on these websites is that of translator/interpreter. If you are interested in Japanese pop-culture (Manga, Games etc.), then this might be for you, as companies such as Square Enix or CyGames are often searching through these websites. Positions like this are often contract-based (with 1-year contracts being the norm) and being a translator is not the greatest long-term career perspective, but it might be a good first step on the Japanese job market.
Obviously, other positions are available, but English teaching and Translation will be the two most common on these English sites targeting foreigners.
Examples: Indeed, MyNavi, RecruitNow
If you read Japanese, there are many, many more websites and services available to you. Of course, there are also job ads for the aforementioned translation or teaching positions (just the ad itself might be in Japanese). Also, everything that you can think of from sales and marketing to IT or manual labour, everything will be available. However, even though the number of available jobs in much higher, of course, you are competing against Japanese people now, so the number of applicants for a position will be much higher. Also, language requirements will usually be at least N2 (or simply say that they expect you to be “fluent”). Although none will outright state this, many job ads will be limited to Japanese people only so even if you apply you will never hear back from them. Some few ads will contain lines like “foreigners welcome” or require that somebody be a native speaker of English, but they will be far and few between. Just get used to the reality that you are probably going to have to take a “carpet-bombing” approach and apply to as many jobs, that looks halfway decent, as possible and then wait and see who gets back to you. Cherry-picking is probably not going to get you very far unless you have especially sought-after skills or experience (usually Language skill alone is not enough).
If you sign up for a job-hunting website, chances are you are going to get “scouted”. Usually, this means that someone sent you a copy-paste message, introducing their job ad and inviting you to apply. While I am not 100% sure how exactly they determine who to send these messages to, if it is even a person who decides or some algorithm, this usually does not mean anything. You will get a template message stating “that they had a look at your profile and think that you are perfect for the job”. But I have received these messages even on websites where I registered with a blank profile, so most likely they have never actually looked at your profile and are just sending you this message to fulfil a quota. Another one to be careful of are companies that promise everybody, that sends them an application, an interview (look for this word: interview guaranteed, mensetsu kakujitsu, 面接確実, or something similar). Usually, these are so-called “black” companies (a term used to describe companies with a reputation for bad working conditions) which have a low job-retention rate, e.g. people quitting or getting fired all the time, looking for their next victim.
Facebook, Magazines, Direct
Last, but not least, there are some alternative options available online as well. Many companies operate Facebook pages where they share job information and receive applications. Most of the time, these are smaller companies with a very specific audience, for example, companies looking to hire workers from south-east Asia for farming work. If you are a University-graduate who speaks fluent Japanese, you might not need to search for Jobs on Facebook, but if you are a student looking for part-time or holiday work, if you are on a Working Holiday and looking for work, or if you are simply looking for something a bit different (such as being an extra in Japanese movie production in Hong Kong, just one example I found on Facebook), then Facebook might be for you.
Though old-fashioned, magazine ads are still a thing when looking for a Job in Japan. In Japanese, the Magazine “Town Work” is still available at almost every major train station and usually has information on available part-time jobs in a given area (a website by the same name is also available. Other than that, magazines such as the Japan Times or the Yomiuri Shinbun (English version) also carry job ads, so it might be worth looking into these.
Finally, if you already have a good idea of what kind of work you want to do, it might be easiest to skip all the trouble with the above job-hunting websites and simply apply directly through the website of a company. If you go to a company’s website, they will usually have a dedicated page with information on recruitment (saiyou, 採用) where you can apply directly. Just note, that companies tend to not list all their available positions here, and information here is more often than not only aimed at 新卒 (shinsotsu, newly graduated university students), with the company looking to fill their other positions through the aforementioned job-hunting sites.
I am going to stop it here. Looking for a Job in Japan can be a very tough and sometimes very frustrating affair. Unless you hold a very specific skillset expect to be ignored and rejected often. And while that is the reality, if your dream is to work in Japan then do not let the above discourage you! If you want to do it, then it’s definitely possible. 頑張りましょう。