The truth about getting a job in Japan

While I don’t think I’m your first I’d rather be your last. No this post is not a confession of love to you; my readers. Hopefully this can serve as my insight so far into applying for jobs in Japan when you don’t yet live there and also what to expect.

Let’s be straight here, it is not easy. If you have ended up here wanting to be super kawaii sugoi desu, or what ever you are smacking onto the end of your English sentences and think you will be able to just roll into Japan and continue your jobs at the local supermarket, you probably will be expecting some bad news. Think of it realistically, most countries want to provide jobs for the natives first, you need to be bringing something a bit better than your love of ramen and Naruto if you have a chance of getting something that will help you long term.

“do you have any skills that are a) transferable b) needed?”

The biggest worry I hear from people looking to work in Japan is that they don’t have a degree and they don’t think that their Japanese is good enough to be able to compete with everyone else. In some ways that is true, there is a big emphasis in companies for foreigners to have degrees and at the minimum a N2 / Business level of language proficiency but this does not mean in any way that your up shit creak, there is still hope (at least I think).

Let’s break this job hunt down in to smaller parts. Firstly do you have any skills that are a) transferable and b) needed? Now I get it, you are thinking “Duh Chris, I have already told you! I am good at eating ramen and I know every Naruto episode! Jeez!”

Okay great but I’m talking about things a bit more obvious such as, can you speak English? I’d be concerned if you got this far reading this post and now realize you can’t. Unfortunately for you, this is not always the easiest thing to get into and it can also be poorly paid, it’s the price we pay for spreading English across the world (a lot of people can teach it), that is not to say that it is not a viable option and if you are stuck for what you are actually good at, I would definitely start with the whole, teaching the language you are fluent in…

The second part of this is skill. At the time of writing from my research, Japan is having a bit of a labor shortage (this is good for you…well, what I mean is; this is better for you).

I did not get my degree, I too share the worries around this, however this is more of a bump as opposed to a brick wall. Like anywhere in the world sometimes what you know can be more important than what education certificate you got from University.

Just over 3 years ago, I was lucky enough to be offered a job that changed my life. I had no prior skills in the IT industry but I took this opportunity to arm myself to the teeth with the knowledge to be able to compete with the colleagues that did have degrees. You need to be prepared to show someone why you are better at what you do than the others that want it too. (that’s life advice, not just for this article: Another Chris James top tip)

The point I’m trying to make here, is that if you have the skills, it will still be hard but it’s not impossible. I have seen so many videos on youtube and articles that will straight up tell you NO it’s not possible. The truth is, with many global companies there are opportunities to work with your skills at their foreign offices. Don’t just stick to the major cities; Tokyo, while it sounds amazing, should not be the only place you look and you might find that there is less competition the further out you look.

I would heavily suggest that you get your google on and job hunt in a similar fashion to how you would in your home country. You are going to be disheartened, believe me. “Sorry you cannot apply for this job without a current valid working visa” or “Sorry we wont be taking this application further”. I want to talk about the first one.

“Sorry you cannot apply for this job without a current valid working visa”

I have found with a lot of the jobs I have applied for so far that having a visa is a requirement. I get it, it makes sense, employers probably don’t feel that comfortable having interviewed you, to then discover that you can’t start for a couple of months. So this is where you have to decide whether to take a risk. You can apply for a working Holiday visa in your own country and then apply for jobs at home until you get the job and are ready to go. While I am considering a variation of this option, There is a big ol’ issue with this though. when you have applied for your working holiday visa, the Japanese embassy expect you to be in the country with in 3 months of your application of the visa. In my situation, I am going to be in Thailand for 3 months and the application rules state that you have to apply for the visa from your own country. If you are in a circumstance where you will be traveling you can ask that you be allowed 12 months from your granted visa date to enter the country. It’s because of this I find myself thinking that I need to apply before the end of the month, this will trigger the ticking clock, where I need to enter Japan to make use of my visa.

The other way to do it (probably the most sensible but more costly) is to take your working holiday visa, go on your working holiday and then apply for jobs while you are in the country. You have the added benefit of being physically available to go to an interview in person and also network. The downside is that while you are looking for work you are going to also be burning cash that you may not have wanted to.

So look I am going to provide some links in this article at the end and I think that you should definitely check them out. Happy hunting



A series of unfortunate events

Let’s start today’s blog with a story.

This morning I was laying in the bath, I was about to wash my face with a charcoal face scrub, instead, my brain thought I was about to wash my hair and I ended up with a scalp full of charcoaly goodness. Flash forward 15 minutes later, after I had finished drying; I went to put on my jeans and the entire coin supply of the Royal Mint ejected onto the bedroom floor, traveling in every direction. I often wonder if a series of unfortunate events such as this has any real meaning? I can only laugh at this morning’s events as it acts a summary for the last couple of months of my life so far. It’s easy to pass off what happened this morning as unlucky but I think if we are being realistic here I am the one responsible for the mishaps.

The End.

Okay, So there are 32 days to go until I leave for Thailand and in the time since the last blog a LOT has happened. As I have said previously, my end game is to be in Japan and I have put in a bit of work so far to apply for jobs already… I’m being preemptive in my approach.  By night, I may be a serial life change planner but by day I work in IT for a big global company. One of the benefits of this is that the chance to network is great. Sometimes the way to get the things you want are right in front of you. I managed to share my plans with my bosses and asked how likely it would be to get a position in one of our Asia offices. It turns out that there may very well be that opportunity. It is because of this my stay in Thailand may very well be a short one. That being said, I am not going to put all of my eggs in one basket, Thailand will continue as planned for now until I hear more from the other sources.

So for now, what is Thailand, could be Hong Kong, could be Tokyo, could be…Somewhere in Asia.

Side note: I am still waiting for my plane tickets and my seat to be allocated, I bought them in May this year and if the story at the beginning of this blog is anything to go by, you may have a better understanding at my worry, failing that, if anyone has a reliable rubber dinghy, I’ll get my things together now and let you know when I get there.

It has been a short blog today but I wanted to give you an update on the situation so far.

Peace, speak soon.

Chris James

How to Make Bad Life Decisions

Quit your job, quit your life, see the world.

As of present, I have 43 days until I jack my life in, leave the UK and jet off across the globe to Thailand, (“Wow how very middle class of you.” you utter. I know right!)

I can’t help but think, that when you tell people you are moving away, the first thing they ask is “Oh, for how long?” Facial expressions then change from slightly interested, to a more confused state when you begin to explain that when you said you were moving, you meant ACTUALLY MOVING, as opposed to taking a long 20 somethings ” Gap Yah” backpacking holiday. I am moving across the globe – expiry date TBC.

At 29 years old I am in a good career in a company that I actually love working for and that’s usually what throws people off the most. “Why the hell are you doing this Chris?”

In truth there are a few reasons and also no reasons, I am still trying to work out that contradiction myself. I feel like I am part running away and part setting myself free. So far in my life, the ride has not been an easy one (not to say that there several others that have had it much harder). I think that because of this I have never really been in a position where I have been able to feel completely comfortable in what I’m doing. As a child, I was in an environment from an early age with my parents, where I was moving often between different places and I can only assume that in some way this has subconsciously slipped its way into my adult life.

Looking through my Facebook timeline over the last 8 years, updates from friends have served as a constant insight of their travels while also providing a reminder that I have not embarked on something similar. I’m not saying I have been envious, but…Well, that’s exactly what I am saying.

So Initially, The plan was to take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course and then go to China for a year moving from country to country when the year comes to an end. It wasn’t until I joined a Japanese society at the local university that I realised that my dream would be to make raw fish a part of my staple diet, and thus the idea of moving to Japan became my goal.

  • Step 1: Save for 1 year to be set for the Japanese Adventure
  • Step 2: Make plans to see my girlfriend in the UK regularly enough to make long distance work.

Ok so ignore the above steps, the saving came later than planned and the relationship ended… New plan.

  • Step 1: Save money for a good few months for the Thai Adventure.
  • Step 2: Get a Job in Thailand to Save more for Japan.
  • Step 3: Move to Japan after saving in Thailand.

Okay, glad we got that all squared away.

The other day, while laying in the bath, I decided that actually, what I really wanted to do was go for a run…It was pouring with rain; shoes on, umbrella check, off we go. On my run, I stopped off at the local supermarket and bumped into an old school friend and told him my plans for the future. He later said that it has made him thought about where he is in his life and that my story inspired him to think about making a change.

I had written 2 previous posts for this blog, but I realised that what I want to give you guys reading this, is an insight into how you can go crazy and perhaps make that leap to change shit up.

Thanks for reading.

Chris James