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Finding a job in Tokyo....

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  • Finding a job in Tokyo....

    Hi everyone,
    I know i'm probably rehashing the same topic about acquiring work in Japan but here goes.

    -I'm currently residing in the US but would desperately like to find work in the Tokyo area. The problem is that there seems to be nothing available other than teaching English. Please tell me there are other jobs besides teaching. I came across an ad for a position in the import/export business and wanted to know if there are others here who have experience in the aformentioned field? If so, i'm curious to hear of your experiences.

    -I have a degree in East Asian Studies but this isn't exactly the most marketable degree to most employers. I've had nothing but difficulty securing professional work and feel that teaching English may be my only option. After graduation I was offered two positions teaching English in Tokyo but declined the offers because it wasn't what I wanted to do. Am I being unrealistic? Should I be content with the jobs that are available or should I bide my time and wait for something more appealing to come along? I guess I feel like I don't want to be just another "foreigner" who teaches English.

    -I'm curious to know what an employer looks at when reviewing a potential employee's resume. My work experience isn't quite what I'd like it to be but I do feel that I have a strong educational background. I attended a private university in the US and spent my senior year at Sophia University in Tokyo. This may mean jack squat to some people but I figured it might increase my chances of securing a position with some company.

    -While attending my senior year in Japan I was attempting to re-absorb as much of the language as possible. Having been away from it for awhile now and I feel as though I've forgotten everything I've learned. I'm probably borderline beginner/intermediate level by now. I know being fluent in Japanese is probably very useful but aren't there companies that have international environments whereby English is the predominant language? I don't necessarily like the idea of working in an all English work environment primarily because I'd like to continue learning Japanese. Are there any jobs that have bilingual environments?

    -I'm half Japanese and was born and raised in Japan. I recently came across a company called, "Tokyo Employment Service Center For Foreigners of Japanese Ancestry," and was wondering if any of you have heard of it before? Has anyone here of Japanese ancestry ever used this service? I'm curious to know what job options they might have.

    -I know that some businesses, especially English schools, assist new employees in finding a place to live. Is this common with a lot of jobs in Japan or am I on my own? I dread the idea of having to pay a ridiculous amount of key money just to live in a tiny apartment. Can anyone enlighten me?

    -Lastly, I haven't really tested the waters as much as I would like but can anyone recommend some decent classifieds that actually produce results? By this I mean places where I can place a 'job wanted' ad and get responses. Any help would be appreciated.

    Whew! Ok, i'm done for now. I would be much obliged if any of you fine folk could enlighten me with your experiences and/or recommendations of Japan.


  • #2
    Re: Finding a job in Tokyo....


    Japan Times Monday Classified are amongst the best, though a couple of other publication put out jobs in the mainly teaching market.

    You don't mention any work experience, and a US private University? Is that properly accredited? Sophia is quite respected, amongst Japanese Universities, but they generally all have a poor name.

    As an employer, I would prefer to see some work experience, as I would like a worker, not a student/ thinker, and in Japan, being able to get on with others is also important. An Asian Trading Company might be a good start, at entry level as you have no work experience or connections it seems. It is a bit of Catch 22 as with out work experience, you cannot get work experience, and so you should take a chance on a job offered. You can always change later.

    Don't expect a small company to pay much to help you study Japanese, they expect you to work, not study, and that would discriminate you against other employees.

    Major corporations might be able to provide a more bilingual atmosphere, but why should a Japanese company, in Japan, with the majority of employees being Japanese do the same? Although this is one factor that can limit a company's competitiveness in the International Market, they have have not done too badly to date. The best you might get is the "International Marketing Dept" or "Export Operations" where overseas communications are done in English/ Chinese/ Spanish / Arabic, but internal reporting is all in Japanese. Again, do not expect English only, other languages as mentioned are important for Japan's markets. That was how I started, but I had already been at director level in a foreign business, had some languages besides English at working level, and had technical skills that were needed. You don't.

    You might try teaching, in the interim, aim at corporate teaching, and try to get a job with one of your customers, while at the same time learning the realities of business, and business vocabulary.

    The TESC FJFA is aimed at South American and others of Japanese descent, and finds small jobs in manufacturing here, not trading or business as far as I know. That does not seem to be what you want.

    There is enough advice on English teaching on this forum elsewhere for you, and anyway, I'm not an English teacher, but have my own business here.

    Key money for housing is a fact of life, but if you take a job in a company, they may provide a dormitory type room for a few years, which is a great way to learn about living and being here. It also gives you a chance to save up. Don't expect special treatment, otherwise you will never gain respect from your co-workers.

    You seem to have an open mind, and are asking the right questions. That is a good beginning. Hope you find a starting position.

    Good luck

    Trip Hop Ms.


    • #3
      Re: Finding a job in Tokyo....

      Good luck dude. If you're interested in big business type work, try the links here...

      These are Japan Job Search sites that I find particularly useful.

      I also was desperately looking for a job in Japan for after graduation, but I didn't want to do the English teaching thing. I was a East Asian Studies major (Japanese) but I also have a Business, Information Systems Major, so I think that opened up some opportunities for me.

      There is one thing I noticed though with Japanese companies. They are less concerned with candidates background, so they tend to hire people from a variety of majors.

      Case in point, my Folklore major friend (she's Japanese though) got a job with Banyu, a pharmacutical company.

      Anyway. I know the timing is bad, but my number one suggestion for you is to attend the career forums.

      It will help to learn better spoken Japanese, but it's not completely necessary... it certianly helps though.

      My idea! ***Maybe you should take the English teaching job, learn Japanese while you are over there, quit, and then start looking for your 'real' job.***

      Learning Japanese in America is frikkin tough. Going to the Japan to learn is your best bet I believe. You have to conciously make yourself learn though. Just being there won't do it. If you want to though I think you can learn.

      Try to get placed outside of Tokyo, in the most 'inaka' place possible, and you will learn faster. IMHO

      anyway. good luck!


      • #4
        Re: Finding a job in Tokyo....

        wow, such quick responses...and very helpful. Thank you!

        now, to respond to some of your comments:

        Trip hop,
        -thanks for the classifieds references, I'll check them out when I get the chance.
        -My home university in the US is an accredited university and is one of many sister schools to Sophia University. I am aware of the bad reputations that a lot of Japanese universities have and so hopefully my experience at Sophia wasn't a waste of time. I just hope that it proves useful to me in the future.
        -I guess I was a little vague about my work experiences. I'm currently working for the same merchandising company I worked for while I was attending university in the US. I've been here for awhile and I've pretty much worked in all areas of the business ranging from customer service to office work. I'm now working as an assistant manager in the processing department as well as doing graphic design in the off season. The only reason why I say my work experience is weak is because I feel that I'm not necessarily working in a "professional" environment, at least one that I would consider professional. Hence the reason why I want to branch out and gain different work experience.
        -Regarding having an international environment: I guess what I said earlier didn't quite come out the way I wanted it to. I guess I was trying to say that I would like to be in a position where there's potential for me to learn Japanese rather than being completely surrounded by English. Some of the English teachers I spoke with didn't really seem to learn the language because they are constantly surrounded by English. I believe that it would be a grave mistake for me not to continue learning the language. I know that when I was going to school in Japan I had actually learned a great deal of Japanese just going to and from school. I learned how to read more kanji and I openly tried to speak with people if I went out shopping. So, if I can be in a work environment that can help me improve my Japanese then that would be great.
        -I'll definitely look into your suggestions with Asian trading companies. I think I would be more inclined to pursue work in this field before anything else. BTW, do you know of any Asian trading companies in Tokyo?
        -It's funny, one of the job options you mentioned [corporate teaching] was one of the jobs I turned down. I guess I didn't feel up to working 12-15 hour days, 6 days a week and with no set work environment. Too much stress for me to even think about.

        Much thanks for the other links, I'll also look into them asap. I found your comments to be encouraging only because I felt that my degree was useless before, now I have a little more confidence knowing that employers look at other things besides your academic background. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I have my degree because without it I think i'd be screwed looking for a job.
        -And I do agree with you about learning Japanese in the US, it sucks big time!! As I stated earlier, my experiences in Japan helped me to learn the language much faster than when I was in the US. This is my primary reason for wanting to go back. I feel as though I'm losing whatever Japanese I learned at an exponential rate and it's freaking me out. I considered taking intensive Japanese at the local university but I have my doubts about its effectiveness.
        -And as far as living in 'inaka' goes, I would prefer not to^_^, I say this only because prior to attending Sophia I had spent a semester in Akita-ken which is about as inaka as they get. Well, maybe not but pretty close. Also, my mother is from and currently lives in Aomori which is also very inaka. I think Aomori people probably get the most flack because nobody can understand what the heck they're saying. You've heard of Tsugaru-ben right? Or Aomori-ben? Well, if you heard it you'd think it sounded like absolute gibberish which means that learning Japanese is pretty difficult for foreigners if you know what I mean. Plus, I'm a city slicker at heart and love the hustle and bustle of Tokyo life.

        Ok, thanks you guys for the quick responses. I guess I have my work cut out for me, I'll have to dig right in and start searching right away?


        PS-I forgot to ask, are there many companies that can arrange for a job in advance? That is, without having set up a formal interview? I know it's a stretch but since I live in the US flying to and from Japan can get quite expensive. Do employers ever assess a person's abilities by just looking at their resumes or do they always rely on a face to face interview? I'm assuming it's the latter, it sounds unlikely that a company would hire somebody without having met them right?


        • #5
          Re: Finding a job in Tokyo....

          Try Japan Phone Directory for companies - on line at

          Or Japanese trading houses such as Mitsui, C Itoh, Marubeni, Nissho Iwai, in the US.

          Many Asian trading Companies employ Chinese from HK/ Ch/ Tw or Sing, who are cheaper, need less support and greater multilingual capability. They will be your competitors. What can you offer that they do not have? Although many on this forum scoff at knowing Japanese, it sure helps to be able to speak to avoid screw-ups on the job. It's not teaching, it's business, and every error costs money, or even your job.

          Fly you to Japan for an interview - forget it! Only if you were able to be interviewed in the US, and appointed would they do that, and smaller companies can't afford that. Would you do that as a boss? Don't think so!

          It is probably best to be here to look for jobs, which means working here, teaching until you find what you want. Even a short holiday with some interviews would be useful, as the feedback will tell you if you are qualified or suitable or not.

          Good luck

          Trip Hop Ms.

          Harvey - Most Japanese Pharmaceutical companies take new staff from a variety of backgrounds, but subject them to 5-12 months of intensive product training and company indoctrination, and sometimes even English training! They realise that the only benefit of a Japanese education is the network of same age friends that will be with them for the rest of their life, and these "doki kai" are valauble for sales and business contacts. Banyu were also the first in Japan to experience Western management. Th down side is that unless they ever change their job, that is the only way of doing something most of them will ever know.


          • #6
            Re: Finding a job in Tokyo....

            Thanks again. I'll be looking into some of the companies you mentioned. It's good to know that I have some options open to me. You guys have been very helpful and it's encouraging to know that there are others like me in similar positions trying to make a life for themselves in Japan. Thanks!