Trying to get a job in Japan is really frustrating. You can't get a job in Japan unless you have a working visa, but you can't get that work visa unless you have a sponsor (AKA a job) lined up in Japan. It's a complete catch-22 and it drives everybody up the wall. The sponsor is legally obligated to buy you a plane ticket to your home country if you prove that you have insufficient finances, so you can see why most people don't sponsor just any random qualified person that mails his/her resume over from abroad. They have to trust you. Over 90% of foreigners who are employed in Japan got that job by applying in person, in Japan. Here are 6 tips on how to get a job in Japan.
1. Pack to be Prepared
Remember during your first impression that appearance counts for a lot. Bring a small suitcase full of necessary items. Necessary items include any degrees or certificates you may have received ( TESL and University degrees preferred), your professional resume printed on quality paper, a good suit or office outfit to wear during interviews, and another professional looking outfit to wear to second interviews. Before you go to Japan, collect a list of schools and phone numbers. Email any and all connections you may have in Japan. Send your resume to any schools you're interested in before you go. To go to Japan and search for a job takes money enough to stay for a few months, so make sure you're financially prepared. It really helps to know people before you go, so volunteering ESL in your home country is the best bet for making Japanese connections before you get there.
2. Buy a Japan Rail Pass
You'll save so much money traveling with this thing. It will pay for itself after only two trips. travel in Japan is expensive. I wrote all about the JR Japan Rail Pass here. If you have a rail pass, you can jump from city to city and decide where your ideal job location would be before you get hired.
3. Be in Japan
If you're Canadian or American, you're welcome in Japan for 90 days on a tourist visa. Those are free, and they look like the stamp in the picture to the left. During this time, you must immediately start looking for job interviews and sponsors. Getting job interviews before you have your work permit is 100% legal. Just remember that when the airport immigration desk asks you what the purpose of your stay in Japan is, don't mention your job hunt. This should be a no-brainer, but people get turned away because of this. It's not illegal for them not to allow you in.
4. Rent a Cell Phone and find Cheap Accommodation
Getting a cell phone for a short-term stay is easy in Japan, and you need one so that any potential employer can hire you. You also need a place to stay. Guest houses are the best option, and you can find them by looking online. If you see any ads online advertising "Sayonara Sales" that means a foreigner is leaving Japan. Email the poster to see if you can rent the place they're leaving. Cheap hostels are also good, but sometimes gross to stay in. I stayed at Uno House in Kyoto for three miserable days, but at only 14 dollars a night, it was a great way to save money. There was a very clean Sento bath and a beautiful shrine next door.
5. Get a pre-job
One thing that is really in demand in Japan is conversational English. Putting up notices at internet cafes and little shops is a great way to make a little bit of cash while you do a job search. List your experience and add a friendly photograph of yourself to the sign, especially if you're male. Be friendly with the owners or employees of coffee shops and restaurants and let them know that you're searching for work. A few conversation English lessons at a coffee shop here and there is a great way to make some extra cash. Charge 1500-2000 yen (15-20 dollars) an hour.
6. When you find a sponsor
A lot of people go to Seoul, Korea to get their work visa so that they can reenter Japan with it. This is because Seoul Korea is the closest place to reenter Japan, making it the cheapest. Often, your sponsor will pay for your ticket to Seoul and back to Japan to work.