Sakura Mentor

Lessons from my job-hunting experience in Japan - Part 2
Rahul Maroju Updated in December 2023

In the previous article, I explained the challenge of job schedule and the advantage of early career decision. In this article, I will explore the actual job search from the perspective of a student with little or no Japanese language proficiency. I have decided to search for jobs in the areas of energy and climate change. The only way I could do this was using some online job boards. From my exploration, the single best platform to obtain the job information in English is LinkedIn, a popular professional website for jobs worldwide. Other platforms like Mynavi and Rikunabi are more widely used as they are specific and compatible to Japan. However, these website pages are entirely in Japanese. One can use a translator to understand them, but I felt that it was difficult to obtain the desired search results using English keywords.

I worked on the objective to find out the companies that allow to work in this field using English through LinkedIn. From my experience, the job suggestions have been very good based on the keyword search. Many of them were small sized organizations and startups.

Another advantage of using LinkedIn is that it allows one to connect with people. One can chat with the employees directly to find out information. I was surprised by the number of people in Japan who responded to support with job information. I mainly asked some members about the language requirement and work atmosphere at their office.

Despite the effort, I realized that most of the jobs require business level Japanese language proficiency. They state this requirement in the job description, and even if they do not write, I could confirm it from the people I have contacted. I could only find a very few roles in English and applied for them. However, these companies did not have a new graduate recruitment, so I had to apply for roles which preferred some work experience. Then, I tried to search for the possible jobs in English even if they are not related to my field. The jobs opportunities in Japan, especially using English are dominantly IT-related.

I observed my peers and seniors who could succeed in getting a job. Most of them applied for the new graduate recruitment in established companies. I could not find a single new graduate recruitment in English except for the company - Accenture, which I could not apply as the application period has passed for that year.

Also, the university provides a recommendation letter for jobs at a few companies with which it has tied up an agreement. This allows the companies to slightly prioritize the students applying from that university. However, I couldn’t apply for this as I missed this information.

In summary, a significant proportion of the jobs in Japan using English are IT-related. Chances of getting a job as a new graduate without a good Japanese language skill are greatly slim, but possible with a proper approach and perseverance. In the next article, I shall discuss my way to a job in Japan!

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