Finding Employment in Japan

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Finding work in Japan can be difficult if you don’t know where to look. Foreign language teaching jobs, particularly English, as well as IT related positions or technical related positions are always in high demand.


The majority of positions are filled by people knowing people. Let everyone you know, know your situation and ask for information and names of anyone they might know who can help you. Don’t underestimate the value of networking – make as many contacts as you can.


The Japan Times publishes its classified section every Monday. Sometimes Monday is a “press holiday” in that case the classified section is published on Tuesday.

■General Websites

There are a large number of websites which can help you find a job in Japan. Many of them offer a classified section of current jobs available and also the chance to post an ad for employment wanted, along with your resume.

Seeking Employment as an English Instructor
Whether you are new to Japan and seeking employment for the first time, or are thinking about changing employers after being tempted over here by an overseas recruiter, seeking employment in a country that has a different language and culture to your own can be a daunting task.

■Seeking Work at an English Conversation School

  • More than 2 out of 3 of Japan’s English-teaching foreign resident population leave the country for good and return to their home countries every year, resulting in a large staff turnover at most English conversation schools. Teaching positions are constantly opening.
  • Many teachers leave their jobs and go home when their contract is up, giving schools time to find and hire solid replacements. Schools in this situation, recruit overseas or advertise through the many job sites and national newspapers available to them, and are able to search through the mass of applicants to find their ideal employee.
  • Many schools also advertise their openings exclusively on their own websites before seeking a wider audience in the classifieds – so check them regularly.
  • However, there are also teachers who, for whatever reason, quit at short notice, leaving schools in a mad rush to fill the void left behind. Small schools with only a few native English teachers are particularly vulnerable to this potential banana skin. Even the large chain schools that recruit overseas are not exempt to a sudden teacher shortfall and still recruit domestically at short notice to fill gaps in their staff numbers.
  • If you are able to start teaching straight away, calling a school directly or walking in and hand-delivering your resume, mentioning that you live nearby and are available to teach, is the best way of getting an edge on your competition and potentially by-passing the schools normal screening process.

Stand Out from the Rest – Job Hunting Tips

Like any other customer-orientated business, English schools are looking for certain characteristics in a potential employee that will most satisfy the customer.

Recruiters are looking for:
1. Work Eligibility – Make sure you have the correct visa or are eligible to get one a.s.a.p.
2. Native English – You don’t have to be a native speaker to land an eikaiwa job – just sound and be able to communicate like one.
3. Enthusiasm – Sounding enthusiastic when inquiring about a position can land you an interview.
4. Commitment (to Japan) – the recruiter wants someone one can see out a full year contract
5. A positive, optimistic, friendly persona.
6. Punctuality – Don’t be late for your interview. Research your route – ask them for directions.
7. Professional appearance – Dress up for the interview.
8. Any relative experience – not just past teaching experience, but also customer service experience.

★Work as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT)

A revision to the Ministry of Education’s curriculum guidelines will make English a part of the nation’s public elementary school compulsory curriculum. Beginning in 2011, one English class a week will be compulsory for fifth- and sixth-graders. The demand for Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) from local education boards across the country has sky-rocketed and is likely to stay strong.

Many schools and education boards hire native English teachers directly, but because of increasing teacher demand and traditionally high ALT turn-over they are increasingly turning to dispatch companies to take the hassle out of recruiting, employing, and managing ALTs.

Both hourly and salaried positions are available. Hourly wages are higher than the monthly salaried rate. However, teachers on hourly contracts only receive wages for each class they teach, and of course, there are no classes during school holidays. With salaried positions, even though the “hourly-rate” is lower, teachers still receive a salary throughout the year, even during school holidays.

Direct Employment
Direct employment means that a university or city’s Board of Education hires you, pays you, and controls your schedule. Most Japanese universities and boards of education in major cities hire native English teachers. However, many of them do not advertise, only relying on introductions or getting their teachers from the JET program. Most of the hiring for the forthcoming school year starts in November and continues through to early March. There are usually also other opportunities to start during holiday months, such as August, December, and March, when many current teaching staff return home.

Through a Dispatch Company
Under the haken system, the teacher’s employer is not the city’s Board of Education, even though they control the teacher’s work. Instead private dispatch companies hire teaching staff and send them to the Board of Education. The dispatch company pays the teacher’s salary and the education board trains and directs the teacher. Employment security depends upon the dispatch company winning the ALT contract from the Board of Education.

Private Lessons English & Other Languages
If working under a manager is not for you, or you are just looking to supplement your income then perhaps teaching private English lessons is the answer.
Finding the right place to look for students can sometimes be a challenge upon itself. Many private lessons are “inherited” from teachers who are leaving the country. However there are several options for the budding private teacher. There are several sites that cater to match-up both teacher-seekers with registered student-seekers.

Job Seeking Assistance for Working Holiday Visa Holders
The Japan Association for Working Holiday Markers (JAWHM) is the only government authorized organization in Japan designed to help Working Holiday visa holders.
The non-profit organization provides visa holders with a job referral service, accommodation information, and opportunities for counseling. It also provides prospective Japanese Working Holiday program participants with advice for traveling abroad. JAWHM has 3 offices around the nation, in Tokyo, Osaka, and in Fukuoka. Registration costs 1050 Yen, and requires a personal visit to one of their offices.
For more information call 03-3389-0181 or fax 03-3389-1563. Website:

To learn more about the Nagoya International Center,
please watch our video.

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