How to Apply to a Japanese Company

Man in suit adjusting tie
SUIT // Photograph by Jonathan Mueller // used under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

So you want to apply to a Japanese company in Japan.

I’d like to thank the sponsor of this article, Jobs in Japan!

In my case, I started as an ALT in Japan. My ALT dispatch company only asked for an English resume and cover letter. For my next job, though, I had no idea what application documents I needed!

After a lot of Googling, I was able to put together my application documents. And luckily, these documents helped get me hired at a Japanese company!

Now I want to help you with your application for your dream job in Japan!

Target Audience

This article mainly targets mid-career employees with some Japanese reading skills.

In Japan, mid-career (called 中途 / chuto in Japanese) means anyone with one or two years of work experience after graduation.

New graduates (新卒 / shinsotsu) in Japan have a much different application route. If you are a student, be sure to ask your university career center for help!

Also, it can be hard to get a job in Japan if you are not living in Japan. In this case, one popular route is using a Japan-oriented job site that targets international talent, such as Jobs in Japan.

With this in mind, let’s head to the documents!

Screenshot of Japanese resume with notes about different sections
Japanese resume example (with information redacted — apologies!)

Japanese Resume (履歴書)

The Japanese resume is similar to the English resume. At the same time, the format is very different.

Many websites, such as the Hello Work website, offer Word, PDF, or Excel Japanese resume template files.

As in my example above, the main sections of a Japanese resume are “1. Personal Information,” “2. Education,” “3. Work Experience,” “4. Qualifications,” and “5. Personal Summary.”

As with an English resume, there is specific phrasing you should use for each section. For advice about filling out the resume, recruiters can help. You can find recruiters in Japan through job search websites such as Jobs in Japan. You can also find tons of tips in Japanese online by searching 中途 (chuto / mid-career) or 転職 (tenshoku / job change).

Depending on where you are from, you’ll probably be surprised by a few sections. For example, you need to include a photo. And there are also sections about your marital status. But these are pretty standard on a Japanese resume.

While I won’t go into detail about each section here, I may write another article later based on my own experience.

In a Japanese resume, you usually only include one line about your actual duties. But then in your Japanese job history document, you’ll include many more details. I’ll talk about the Japanese job history below.

Screenshot of Japanese job history with notes about each section. One of the documents needed to apply to a Japanese company.
Japanese job history example

Japanese Job History (職務経歴書)

The job history document is called a 職務経歴書 (shokumu keirekisho).

To be honest, this document is a pain to write. It includes many details about the company, your duties, and your accomplishments.

But if you will apply to a Japanese company for a permanent position (正社員 / seishain), it will usually be required.

At the top, you’ll usually write your work history summary (職務経歴概要 / shokumu keireki gaiyo). This is one paragraph describing your work experience and motivations.

Next is a table listing your past companies and start/end dates.

And finally, you will write all the details for each job. As in my example, you’ll give information about both the company and your position. This is your chance to highlight your experience and accomplishments.

English Resume

Some Japanese companies might also ask for an English resume. This is especially true if your job uses English. The format will usually be the standard Western format.

Be sure to mention any language-related skills and your native language.

Exceptions

There are of course always exceptions to the above.

For example, foreign companies in Japan (外資系 / gaishikei) usually ask for an English cover letter in addition to the above.

English teaching jobs may only ask for an English cover letter and an English resume / CV.

Lastly, you may only need to send a Japanese resume (no job history) for dispatch office work.

In short, be sure to check the job listing closely!

Summary

It’s a lot to take in! But this knowledge is a huge step in the right direction.

How are you preparing to apply to a Japanese company? And what type of job will you be applying to?

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