What to avoid when looking for a job in Japan

When looking for a job, there are many different aspects to consider. Few of us, especially when we are younger, have the luxury of really choosing where we want to work, especially in a foreign country. When one has fallen in love with another countries culture and people, securing a job in that country is a good way – and often the only way – to spend more time there. When you are looking for a job in Japan, there are often lots and lots of job postings available. We all know, that Japanese working culture, while being far from the dystopian hellscape that some online commenters would have you believe, could definitely use some modernization, especially when it comes to work/life balance. While many companies have started modernizing, cutting back on overtime and mandatory company events, there are still many a “black” company where unnecessary overtime and abuse from the bosses is the norm.

Black sheep among decent companies

But how do you know, whether the company you are applying for is a decent one or one of the black sheep? First, you could try looking up the company’s reputation on one of the review websites like glassdoor.com or careerconnection.jp. These websites allow employees of a company to leave a review of their company, giving star ratings for working hours, salary and so on. As with every online review, these are best taken with multiple grains of salt, but they are a good place to see what people are saying about a specific company. But looking up every company that you plan to apply for individually could take ages. But there are other hints as to what kind of company you are applying for, that you can glean directly from the job posting itself. If you avoid job postings including the following three phrases, I believe your chances of accidentally joining a black company will hopefully go down. 

1. A job posting promising everybody an interview, regardless of their application documents (面接確約, mensetsu kakuyaku, and variations thereof). If the company has allocated the manpower to meet EVERY. SINGLE applicant, then it probably means that they have an incredibly high job turnover rate. Chances are very high that this will be a black company with all that entails, including unpaid overtime, mandatory quotas and all that.

2. A job posting where the academic record does not matter (学歴不問, gakureki fumon). While – or maybe because – Japanese companies usually tend not to place a huge emphasis on an applicant’s major, as long as they graduated university, this one should still be a red flag in most cases. A listing like this will usually be for a low paid job where you are going to be entirely replaceable by the next candidate and turnover will be high.

3. Finally, we have urgent hiring’s (急募, kyuubo). Sometimes, these come due to someone leaving suddenly for reasons not related to a company’s “blackness”, e.g. due to becoming pregnant or something similar, in which case these might actually be a good way to find a decent position. But in most cases, it is a good idea to ask yourself why there is a need to urgently hire someone in the first place. In most cases, it will probably be a company with a high job turnover rate, looking for their next victim. 

Navigating the job market in a foreign country can be extremely challenging. But avoiding the above three phrases should help you weed out a good portion of the bad apples that can be found on the Japanese job market. I hope that this has been helpful to you. Until next time and take care!


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