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Any tips for finding IT work?

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  • Any tips for finding IT work?

    Hi, I've got about 15yrs experience in software (Web) development, I've got all the technical chops. JLPT level 2. Any advice for finding work in Tokyo? Seems most of the job postings here on GP are for eikaiwa, which I am very much NOT interested in doing.

    Should I try to line up a job before I arrive, or just show up and start pounding pavement? Do cold-calls work, or do I need an introduction at a given company? I know that connections are key -- There is a foreign-oriented networking group called Pecha Kucha. Any others? What should I expect in terms of salary? Do foreign companies pay better? Some of the developer job postings I've seen at indeed.co.jp are horrific in terms of salary (e.g. under 250K/mo) -- I could actually make more pretending to teach English.

    Can anybody recommend good companies to work for, in terms of work-life balance, good atmosphere, casual dress code, etc.?

    I'm thinking of applying at Google, Amazon, Rakuten, and maybe some financial companies. Any horror stories to share from them?

    Do they still smoke in the offices?

  • #2
    Originally posted by imnotawino View Post
    Do foreign companies pay better?
    Generally, although you can make a pretty penny if you can find a Japanese company that believes, rightly or wrongly, it needs to pay some kind of "gaijin premium". (These don't exist nearly as widely as they used to, even just a few years ago.)

    Some of the developer job postings I've seen at indeed.co.jp are horrific in terms of salary (e.g. under 250K/mo) -- I could actually make more pretending to teach English.
    Quite possibly. If you go into a typical Japanese outfit, don't expect big bucks. Or even modest bucks. Expect bucks that sux.

    I'm thinking of applying at Google, Amazon, Rakuten, and maybe some financial companies. Any horror stories to share from them?
    Financial companies are a longshot, and that's the best-case scenario. Most of them are cutting back in Japan, and when they're not cutting throughout Asia, they are consolidating in Hong Kong and Singapore. And, no offense intended, 15 years of "web development" are not the skillset they are looking for.

    Google -- you're probably too old unless you already have that special nonsensical something they believe makes you a "superstar" if you've been working 15+ yrs (which would put you past mid-30s). May not be fair, but that's how it is.

    Do they still smoke in the offices?
    Personally, I never came across an office where people were smoking at their desks, but the Japanese firms I've had various dealings with invariably had smoking rooms. And in more than one, I am convinced that people were smoking in other meeting areas nominally deemed nonsmoking. The little piles of ashes and yellowing walls, you know...

    At the foreign firms, you had to go outside any of the company's premises if you wanted to smoke.

    Occupationally,
    A.
    Last edited by Agitator; 2013-02-17, 06:56 AM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Agitator View Post
      Financial companies are a longshot, and that's the best-case scenario. Most of them are cutting back in Japan, and when they're not cutting throughout Asia, they are consolidating in Hong Kong and Singapore. And, no offense intended, 15 years of "web development" are not the skillset they are looking for.
      None taken! I do realize that the financial firms need special skillsets which I may not have, like low-latency transaction processing. But, hey, everybody's gotta have a mobile app nowadays. I remember that they used to pay great, but that was in the late '90's. As for Google, yes I agree. Go to glassdoor.com and read about their interview process, if you are interested in that sort of thing. Major pain in the derriere, so I'll probably skip them.

      I think I'll target my search initially to the foreign companies since I don't expect that they would require salaryman-like hours out of me.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Agitator View Post
        Financial companies are a longshot, and that's the best-case scenario. Most of them are cutting back in Japan, and when they're not cutting throughout Asia, they are consolidating in Hong Kong and Singapore. And, no offense intended, 15 years of "web development" are not the skill set they are looking for.
        Let me quote Agitator and confirm that this is a very accurate representation of what's happening in Japan right now. Web development is an out of scope skill set that is not in demand right now. Not just financial groups, but large companies in general are trying to reduce their "IT footprint" by consolidating legacy applications in a larger, more robust single application.

        Development is mainly happening in places like China & India while operations and oversight is mainly happening in Singapore & Hong Kong,

        From my point view, I see demand for professionals who understand financial processes and can assist in building new process flows where it takes 1-2 applications where in the past or currently, have 5-6 applications handling the same process.

        The IT jobs in Japan that used to pay a decent salary are now at the same level or lower than English teaching, sad to say. The jobs that are still here are slowly being rolled back to minimal staffing levels while everything else is shifted off-shore.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ENF View Post
          The IT jobs in Japan that used to pay a decent salary are now at the same level or lower than English teaching, sad to say. The jobs that are still here are slowly being rolled back to minimal staffing levels while everything else is shifted off-shore.
          Yikes! I have known for a long time that the Japanese do not value good IT talent they way they do in the States. In fact, it's why I left Dell Japan in '98 for the dotcom boombust in Silicon Valley. I have consistently made 3x what I did at Dell J, which wasn't that bad. I realized I'd have to scale back my salary expecations, but wow, less than eikaiwa is a shocker. I do have a fallback and that is my current independent contractor career, it's just tricky to deal with the logistics of receiving/depositing checks overseas, but I'm sure I can figure it out. But I was hoping to get a job as a seishain at a major corporation so that I can sit and surf Facebook all day. (I kid, I kid) Seishain would be a kind of stability that I don't get from IC.

          @ENF, where did you snap that avatar picture?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by imnotawino View Post
            Yikes! I have known for a long time that the Japanese do not value good IT talent they way they do in the States. In fact, it's why I left Dell Japan in '98 for the dotcom boombust in Silicon Valley. I have consistently made 3x what I did at Dell J, which wasn't that bad. I realized I'd have to scale back my salary expecations, but wow, less than eikaiwa is a shocker. I do have a fallback and that is my current independent contractor career, it's just tricky to deal with the logistics of receiving/depositing checks overseas, but I'm sure I can figure it out. But I was hoping to get a job as a seishain at a major corporation so that I can sit and surf Facebook all day. (I kid, I kid) Seishain would be a kind of stability that I don't get from IC.

            @ENF, where did you snap that avatar picture?
            Avatar: This was a shop in Roppongi Hills located in the "Hollywood Beauty Plaza". It has since been replaced with a clothing shop called 'earth, music & ecology'. (picture was from ~2006, I think)

            About salaries in Japan: While I'm not slighting these people, I'm just noting that Indian workers came to Japan and accepted positions at salary rates much lower than other markets. A few people I worked directly with from banking, investment and insurance companies moved to Singapore or Hong Kong for better salaries or simply a chance at advancement. Some of those people changed companies completely...

            For myself, I came up from the IT sector but quickly realized there was a glass ceiling on salaries unless I attained a specific position that I really had no interest in. Luckily, I had experience that I could shift to a different career and while I still deal with IT pieces, I'm more involved in financial risk control than IT. (In this day and age, IT is large component of financial risk/monitoring.) That said, I interface with the Japanese FSA and work with Japanese and foreign businesses on various issues.

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            • #7
              Check sites such as panache jobs or robert walters. Also some chambers of commerce have job sections. Foreign companies usually have better conditions, but are also more quickly to lay people off.
              Lining up interviews before coming is also a good idea.

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              • #8
                One of my friend got a job in the foreign country threw a consultancy..

                Contact with a consultancy it will take some fee and the 1st month salary...

                But it is good..

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                • #9
                  I can only repeat the advice my friends have given me, as I'm nearly FOB myself.

                  1) Get out and socially network with people. In Japan as much as anywhere else, it's who you know and how well you know them. PM me for sites

                  2) Recruiters often are biased in terms of their friends, and those with high Japanese language ability. Get to know recruiters

                  3) Clean up your resume to explain any and all gaps in employment. Clearly and concisely demonstrate your dominant skillsets. Ideally, have a CV in Japanese.

                  4) Brush up on that Japanese. Fairly or not, even most foreign firms here require Japanese. An English work environment is relatively rare in Japanese IT, even in finance. It's basically limited to start-ups and front office finance. Even most of the companies you mentioned (Rakuten might officially be English, but a quick review of their SE positions open all mention biz Japanese being 'preferred'). This is Japan, and a good 95% or more of people or more do NOT speak passable English.

                  5) Moderate your expectations. Whatever you made in the EU or America, chances are you will never make that much in Japan. Not to sound pessimistic, but IT wages tend to be significantly lower here. It's mostly a product of outsourcing, as for every 'skilled' American or European developer here there is some Indian or Chinese guy willing to do your job at half price or less.

                  EDIT:

                  A good buddy of mine worked at Rakuten for a bit, and he said that it's rather common for the development staff to work 60-70 hours a week and that despite the movement towards English that nearly all internal meetings are still done in Japanese. Japan has a strong preference for conducting business in Japanese, and the strong history and rich cultural etiquette play a large part in daily life here.

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