Job hunting in Japan: Everything Needed For Mastering Japanese Resumes

This is the second instalment of the “Job Hunting in Japan” series.


As a foreigner, Japanese resumes can be one of the most difficult parts of applying for jobs in Japan. Luckily, Eleanor Gray has shared with me her top tips so that you can write the perfect resume, and score your dream job in Japan. Eleanor studied Japanese, linguistics and Asian studies at the University of Melbourne and has been working in Japan for two years now.

Japanese resume
Working in Japan doesn’t have to stay a dream. Learn how to write a fantastic Japanese resume!

So, what are Japanese resumes like?

Japanese resumes involve a base resume including all your details, education and employment history; as well as a few paragraphs about your motivation for applying and why you are suitable for the job. For a step-by-step guide on how to write a Japanese resume, check out Gaijin Pot’s article here.

Japan is still very traditional, so it is recommended that you handwrite your resumes. Of course, there are limits to that, so if you’re applying online you can type your resume and use a template. There are lots of template sites online as well, which are really handy because they record your details so you only need to write it out once.

Below is an example resume generously provided by Eleanor:

Some companies will require their own resume that you need to fill out, so they will have a template already and you will need to fill out your details, rather than sending them your resume. Other times they require you to have a base resume and then a separate list of your employment details. Depending on the company, you may also need to include your reason for applying and your self-promotion points.

Reason for applying (志望動機)

Your reason for applying will be very similar to a standard Western resume. This section is an opportunity to demonstrate why you are interested in the position you are applying for. Aim to keep your writing clear and succinct, while also demonstrating how you are a good fit for the company.

Self-promotion points (自己 PR)

Your self-promotion is a short description of your strongest quality. This probably takes the longest part of your resume writing process, as it is what sets you apart from other candidates. It is best to write your self-promotion in the structure of a STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) method response.

If you search on Google, 自己PR 例文 (self-promotion points examples) then you can find some really useful example paragraphs. The MyNavi website and recruit websites also have lots of articles and workshops about resumes, as well as people online who can check your writing.

Writing a resume in a foreign language can be stressful, but with all these helpful online resources you don’t have to worry about it any longer!

Are there any rules for writing Japanese resumes?

There are a few important writing conventions for Japanese resumes that you need to know. For example, there are specific ways of writing different details, like dates, when you fill out the employment or education section of your resume. For this reason, always get a Japanese friend to check if your Japanese and the resume structure are correct.

Note that you can include work experience from outside of Japan, but be prepared to write about it in both English and Japanese. Also, if you get to an interview, you need to be able to talk about what you wrote as you will most likely be asked about it. If you have an education history outside of Japan, it helps to include both the name and location of where you studied.

For employment and schooling, you will often have to include both the date that you started and the date that you ended. So make sure that you know those exact dates when you are writing you resume.

What other things should be included in a Japanese resume?

Photographs:

In Japan, resumes almost always have photographs on them. The photograph should be a photo booth style photo, similar to a passport photo. Making sure that you can see your eyes and wear a suit (what you wear to an interview). For more information, have a look at KiMi’s article about how to take the perfect resume picture in Japan.

Resume photographs in Japan are professional and simple.

Licences and Certificates:

Include all your relevant licences and certifications. You should include proof of your language abilities, such as the JLPT for Japanese or any other languages qualifications you have. If English is your second language, it is a good idea to include any TOEFL or IELTS scores you have as well. You can also write down if you have any programming abilities or any other skills. This includes a driver’s licence as some jobs will require you to drive.

Final Tips

If you go to a career fair, have lots of copies of your resume that you can hand out on the day. If you see a company you are interested in and want to have an interview, drop in your resume.

When writing your resume, your reason for applying is going to be different for each company. So with the self-promotion paragraph, have a few versions up your sleeve. That way you can emphasise different strengths for different companies, depending on what they are looking for.

Remember to show your unique qualities and why you would be the best fit for the job!

When you get experience writing Japanese resumes you think: oh this is how it’s supposed to be written or this is too vague and general or this is what they are looking for. So although it may take time, you can definitely learn how to write really great resumes.

Thank you Eleanor for sharing your amazing tips about how to find a job in Japan. In the third and final “Job hunting in Japan” article, Eleanor will share her experiences and advice about how to ace your job interview in Japan.

For more information about working in Japan, check out our recent articles:

Job hunting in Japan: Here’s everything you need to know

How to successfully network in Japan for a job during COVID

Living in rural Japan as a JET ALT: An Interview with Justin Temporal

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Yasmin McGarva

Yasmin is in her final year of a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Japanese and Media and Communications. She has undertaken a semester exchange at Hokkaido University and volunteered with ISA Australia as a group leader teaching English in schools throughout Japan. With a deep interest in cultural exchange, Yasmin aspires to work connecting Australia with Japan and the Indo-Pacific region.

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