How to find a job in Tokyo

Updated 2019-04-01 09:31

Tokyo is definitely the ideal place to find a job in Japan. This is where the headquarters of large corporations are located. This is also where one can have a thriving career and have access to senior positions. There are more job offers available than in other cities. Most of the expatriates settle in Tokyo. In addition to employment opportunities, the capital also provides a valuable living environment: accessible transportation, entertainment complexes, national parks, etc.

Tokyo's economy

Tokyo, the world's financial capital, is also Japan's economic, financial and commercial centre. The main financial contributors of the city are services, finance, insurance and high technology. In other words, there is no shortage of professional opportunities in the Japanese capital!

Tokyo is home to many foreign companies, as well as local companies looking for foreign influence. Most of the major Japanese companies have their headquarters in Tokyo, including Hitachi, Rakuten, NTT Docomo, KDDI etc.

Features of Tokyo

When we associate "expatriate" and "employment in Japan", we often think of "language teacher". There are indeed recruitments in the sector (especially for English teacher positions). But there are also many other job offers in Tokyo.

The city has many companies that specialise in international trade. Some positions are aimed at foreign nationals who have a good work experience: mastery of Japanese, diplomas, network, etc. Since competition is fierce among foreigners wishing to work in Tokyo, you need to stand out!

You can also look at international companies based in Tokyo: translation companies, media specialists, etc. Contact them directly to submit your application.

If you are planning to teach English, there are plenty of opportunities in Tokyo. As Japan's most populous city, Tokyo has a large number of schools, universities and language institutions often looking for foreign teachers. Teaching French, Mandarin, Spanish and German are also interesting fields to consider.

Finding a job in Tokyo

The labour market in Japan is two folded, with a so-called "regular" market (long-term jobs) and an "irregular" market (baito, part-time jobs)

Finding a baito

It is relatively easy to find a baito. In Tokyo, many shops display "boshuu" (recruitment) or "daiboshuu" (large recruitment). Because baito is a precarious job, staff turnover is more important.

As an expatriate, the better your level of Japanese, the more you will have access to baito. However, you don't have to be bilingual to get a baito.

It all depends on the type of job. Some offers specify that it is not necessary to speak Japanese. Others require a beginner level, or conversational. By "conversational" we often mean: understanding a simple, basic conversation, to be able to express oneself simply and interact (everyday conversation). In practice: for a job as a konbini or mini-mart employee, as a waiter, you may be asked for a conversational level.

You may not have the opportunity to speak much, but you will need to have a basic knowledge of Japanese to understand the instructions (if they are given in Japanese), read the kanji, understand any questions from customers etc.

As mentioned above, you will also find baito offers, even without speaking Japanese. For example, some high schools in Tokyo regularly recruit staff in Baito, without requiring them to speak Japanese. Same, for maintenance jobs (cleaning, service in a guesthouse, etc.)

The main sectors that recruit in baito are catering and the services sector.

Catering: waiter, kitchen helper, diver, etc.

Services: konbini employees (convenience store open 24 hours a day), employees of mini-markets, shopping malls, guesthouses, hotels, gas stations, babysitters, maintenance staff, private teachers, language school staff, school staff, etc.

Applying for a job

By phone

If you are fluent in Japanese, call the recruiter directly. When you see the sign outside the company that says "boshuu" (recruitment), there is always a phone number. Quite often, everything is written in Japanese.

Specialised press

You will find many free magazines, in stations or konbini, which list job offers (baito and permanent jobs), by geographical sector and line of business. Once again, most of it is written in Japanese. Examples of reviews: JobAidem, Townwork, etc.

By email

If you are not fluent in Japanese, opt for email and announcements in English. There are some ads in French, but they are so few that it is better to use English.

Examples of websites offering job offers in English: Jobs in Japan, Gaijin pot, Craiglist, Nihon de baito...

Finding a so-called "regular" job

Speaking Japanese is a prerequisite when looking for a baito.

Of course, you will find offers for which speaking English will suffice (some international companies, for example). However, do not neglect to learn the language, especially if you're planning to make an extended stay. Competition is fierce, especially in Tokyo, which means there are more job offers and, consequently, more candidates. Recruiters, especially if they are Japanese, expect you to be fluent in both Japanese and English. They may ask you for written evidence: results of the Japanese Proficiency Language Test (JLPT), and the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). Concerning Japanese, they often ask for JLPT 2 (bilingual level). If you have the level above (N1, expert), it is an additional asset to be promoted.

Still regarding languages, if you speak another language, let it be known. Since Japanese and English will also be spoken by your competitors, your goal is to stand out from the crowd.

You will also find job offers in specialised magazines (the same ones that offer baito). To apply: as with baito, call the recruiter directly. You can also send a postmail, or an email.

The CV

In Western countries, the rules concerning the presentation of the CV are relatively flexible. Clarity is prefered to that reading is quick and informative. In short, the recruiter must be able to quickly scan your CV. There are no specific color-coded or layout. It is a considerable asset, to stand out from other candidates.

In Japan, writing a CV is quite different. All CVs have a predefined form, a template (form) that must be respected. There are two types of CVs:

Rirekisho: this is the basic CV, used by the majority of applicants. Whether you are looking for a small job, or a first job, this is the model you will use.

Shokumu Keirekisho: another CV, in which you are asked for more details about your curriculum. This CV shows more interest in your experience. It is reserved for so-called "regular", full-time positions.

There is also the summary, equivalent to the Western CV, but it is rarely used.

Please note that for a baito, for example (and, especially, if the ad is in English), the recruiter will not mind if you send a Western type CV by email.

The konbini (mini-markets open 24 hours a day) sell rirekisho, a package that usually contains several forms and envelopes. You will also find CV templates on the Internet.

In practice

Japanese CVs are usually on two pages. Even for a first job.

Left page: your contact details and your professional background.

Right page: your hobbies and your cover letter

Use black ink to write your CV. Dating and signing it will require you to always rewrite your CV.

Innovation encourages some people to opt for the typewritten form. A CV can be clearly understood if sent by email, but if you want to play it safe, try to remain classic (handwritten CV) if you apply by mail.

Never fold your CV in the case you are sending it by post.

The information enclosed in your CV (rirekisho)

Your passport photo: face clear: people with long hair should tie it up, wear a dark suit, tie for men. Smile discreetly. Plain white background. Smile. Focus on the objective: your future employer must feel your ease and determination.

Contact details: your name in Latin alphabet (romaji) and katana.

Date of birth: In Japan, we count in "imperial years". Be sure to check the period of your date of birth. However, many recent forms opt for transition into calendar years, which makes the task much easier.

Your career path

Education: from the oldest to the most recent period.

Professional experience: Same as the educational one. Avoid periods of inactivity. This can make the task difficult; however, in Japan, as in Western countries, CVs with periods of inactivity are frowned upon. Another point: recruiters also seem to fear the multiplication of experiences, which would be a sign of an inability to keep a sustainable job.


Don't forget to write "ijou" (end) under your last work experience (right), to let the recruiter know that you have finished listing your work experience.

Certifications, licences: JLPT, TOEIC, driving licence... write down all the other "diplomas", certifications, that you have received.

Other details

You will be asked about your family situation (dependent, spouse), the nearest station to your house, your commuting time to work and home, etc.

Skills, interests

You have a box to talk about your other skills. Here, we are getting closer to the Western model.

Skills: mastery of a particular software, for example.

Feel free also to fill in all the languages spoken, including those for which you have not taken an exam.

Finally, talk about your hobbies.


Another box which gives you the opportunity to write your cover letter. Be brief, precise, and concise. You don't have much space to write (especially if you have large handwriting!).

Other requests, special requests

In this box, you are asked if you have any claims, in terms of remuneration, for example, working schedule, place of work: for example, if you do not want to work on weekends, you can write it here.

If you have no wishes, leave the box blank.

The last part is for the minors: it is up to their legal guardian to complete it, by providing their contact details.

In practice, for the baito or the first jobs, a rirekisho is enough. For more highly qualified positions, or, if your company requests it, you will have to write a shokumu keirekisho: give details about your background.

Set your objectives, either regular, qualified, or baito job. This will allow you to complete your expatriation project. Do you plan to stay for a specific period (one, two years?), or are you planning a long-term future in Japan?

If you lean towards the second proposal, enhance your profile. The more assets you have - like fluency in Japanese, English, or even other languages, diplomas and experience - the more likely you are to be of interest to recruiters.

Useful links:

ESL Employment
Jobs in Japan
Japan Times jobs

Japanese websites

Tenshoku my navi
Helloworks careers

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.