My Way to Japan

Preparation for Job-Hunting
Ha Hoang Updated in November 2023

After I knew that I would find a job in Japan, there were a lot of preparation before the job-hunting season began. So, let’s list up what kind of preparation I did.

1. Prepare my mind

Doing job hunting in Japan means competing with domestic students. Since I was not fluent in Japanese, I knew that I needed to try hard. Getting a job in Japan is said to be difficult, so I was aware that I was facing a big challenge. Just tried my best, and even if I failed, I had nothing to regret.

2. Prepare plans for various situations

I had no idea if I could get a job. In the case I could not, perhaps I would do PhD and pay tuition fees by myself before I could get a JSPS fellowship. In another case, perhaps I would stay in Japan under the designated activities visa for 6 months to continue finding a job, and to take up a part-time job for living at the same time. I knew I needed to try hard for job-hunting, but it did not mean I had to push myself to get a job by all means.

3. Prepare finance

I read many articles from other foreigners who got jobs in Japan and found that I would need to travel a lot to attend job fairs, seminars and interviews. Hence, saving money is important. In addition, in case I could not get the job and had to choose other options, I would even need more money. I felt so lucky that Japanese government was so generous for international students with MEXT scholarship. I was able to prepare enough money without taking up a part-time job.

4. Prepare a black suit

Black suit is a dress code for job hunting in Japan. It is easy to find in any clothing store. Additionally, black shoes, black bag are preferred too. I thought that I would only use that suit for job-hunting. When the job-hunting was over, I still wore that suit on many occasions, such as attending company gathering events, company’s ceremony, training program and so on.

5. Prepare for the job-hunting process

I learnt from Japanese students to prepare for job hunt 1 to 1.5 years before graduation. It includes internship, attending seminars and job fairs, studying for “entry” tests.

  • Internships: Certainly, doing internship does not increase your chance of getting the job, but it would help to gain more experience. The first thing I learnt was to write application forms in handwriting, not only to write every word carefully, but also to arrange a whole sentence or a paragraph to fit just right into the allowed blank space. Some internships require interviews, so I also learnt how to answer some popular questions like why did I want to apply for the company, what were my strengths and weaknesses…
  • Seminars: They are often organized by university and government to help international students understand about the job-hunting schedule in Japan and to have better knowledge upon preparation. I also got many advices from university staff on writing resume and doing interviews.
  • Job Fairs: These are opportunities to know more about potential companies that I wanted to apply to. It is also a chance to talk directly to the HR staff or current employees and know more about working life.
  • Studying for Entry Tests: I had shared about it in a previous article. Please check

6. Improve Japanese ability

In Japan, IT companies and special departments in some companies do not require Japanese, but it is a very small portion compared to the average. Learning Japanese is not only useful for daily life in Japan, but also an evidence that someone is willing to learn. Luckily, I was able to pass N3 before job-hunting season.

It is said that for fresh graduate students, Japanese companies focus more on personality than research skills or academic grades. I think it is still true even for experienced workers looking for job change. Because the company can train your knowledge and skills for work, but not your personality. All companies want to have members who can fit into the team and stay long term even when things get tough. The job-hunting preparations also reflect a part of your personality, doesn’t it?