Work in Japan – Changing Jobs

How to find new work in Japan

Finding work in Japan can be very difficult. As a foreigner who has changed jobs a number of times, I know first-hand what a challenge it can be. This article will lay out basic information on how to change jobs here in Japan; including what you need to prepare and ways to look for work. If you’re looking for new work, you might need to think about your visa status. I won’t go into work visas in Japan in this article, but for more information check our article here.

If you are looking for work in Japan feel free to contact us on our Facebook page at any time. At crobo we are dedicated to creating a Japan where, regardless of race, religion, sex or gender, can work.

What do I need to prepare when looking for new work in Japan?

If you are already working in Japan you probably know the basics. You need to make an updated Japanese resume (履歴書 りれきしょ), get a suit and start looking for work. Not so fast though. Changing jobs in Japan (転職 てんしょく) is a little different than when you looked for work the first time.


Just like the first time you looked for work in Japan you’re going to need to prepare some paperwork. Like everyone else looking for work you will need to update your resume 履歴書. The big difference from last time is that you will have to include information on why you are switching jobs. However, if you haven’t quit your current job yet, you don’t need to write the reason.

Resume 履歴書

If you already quit your job you need to explain why you left to new companies. Below are the two stock phrases you are most likely to use.

契約の満了により退職 – “Because my contract expired.” This one is pretty self explanatory. Use this if you’re looking for work because your contract ended and you need new work.

一身上の都合により退職 – “For personal reasons.” This is a catch all phrase. When looking for new work in Japan you should use this phrase for any non-contract reasons for quitting.

CV 職務経歴書

The new piece of paperwork you’re going to want to prepare is your CV or 職務経歴書 (しょくむけいれきしょ). While in English this is the same as your resume, things are slightly different here in Japan. Your 職務経歴書 should describe what your responsibilities were at your previous job. This is your chance to show off and explain exactly what your accomplishments and duties were at previous jobs. Were you the number 1 sales representative? Write that in with some of your sales numbers. Did your student take 1st place in an English speech competition? Make sure you put that in there. Basically this is your chance to write more than just the name of the companies you have worked at.

It will never hurt to have someone look over these for you to check for small grammatical or phrasing errors. If you can have someone give your papers a once over and get their feedback, you should! Many recruiting agencies will help you with your paperwork if they think you’re a good candidate; so don’t be shy, get someone to take a look. They may even introduce you to jobs you didn’t know you about. More on that later.

For an excel template of a 履歴書 and 職務経歴書 click here.


So your paperwork is ready, and you’re getting ready to look for new work, but what skills do you need? Well that depends on what kind of job you want. If you’re looking for work in same industry you won’t need to do much: just start searching. However, if you’re looking to start in a new industry, you might need to prepare a little.

For example, if you’re moving from English teaching to Sales you are going to be need more Japanese than you had before. Though some big multinational firms require no Japanese, the majority of jobs in Japan require Japanese. Go figure! But how much Japanese do you actually need to know?

Japanese level

Well, this depends on the job, but a good benchmark is JLPT level N3 or N2. If you’re looking for work in a Japanese company with N4 proficiency you are going to have a hard time. Not only in the application process or interviews, but also in your actual work. However, just because you haven’t taken the JLPT doesn’t mean you need to go sign up for the test. We all know that the test isn’t perfect. We all have the friend who never took it and speaks perfectly or who has N1 and can’t speak. At the end of the day the JLPT is just a benchmark. If you can speak well in the interview and have at least N3 level reading and writing you should be in good shape.

If you’re looking to change jobs think realistically about the things you can do at your current language level. Of course once you enter the company you will learn and eventually catch up. However, companies are looking for someone who can come in and help right away. They are not looking for someone that will need months of training before they can send a business email.

How to look for work in Japan

Okay, you’re ready. Your paperwork is all printed out and you’ve glued your headshot to your resume. Now it’s time to look for jobs, but where should you look? This section will explain some of the methods you can use for applying to Japanese jobs.

Direct Application

If you already know where you want to work this is a great way to apply. Most Japanese company websites have a section called 採用情報 (recruiting information), where you can apply for work. Look for at the top of bottom of a company’s website. You can often apply right on the website, or it will tell you where to email your information.

Direct application is good when you know exactly where you want to work, it shows the company your level of interest and gets your application in front of their HR department right away. However, there are some downsides to direct application. 

  1. What if you get rejected? This should be obvious. If you’re unemployed, focus on one company and get rejected you’re going to be in trouble. You’ll still need to find work before 3 months are up or leave Japan.
  2. You might be missing out on other opportunities. Unless you are very knowledgable about the industry you probably don’t know all the companies in that space. Even if the company you are interested in rejects your application there might be similar companies hiring for similar positions.
  3. You might be selling yourself short. It is hard to know exactly what jobs you are suited for when looking for work in Japan. Some people make the mistake of selling themselves short and taking any job to save their visa. Of course you should take the job if you want it. However, sometimes it is a good idea to also get other offers and gauge your value in the job market.

転職 Sites – Japan Job Hunting Sites

Job hunting sites are great if you are looking for work and your Japanese is very strong. You have probably heard of MyNavi and Recruit, or seen their advertisements on trains, TVs or billboards. They offer a huge range of jobs and often show you companies similar to the ones you apply to. They post jobs that are looking for candidates, so you never have to worry about applying to a company that isn’t hiring. That said there are a couple of difficulties when it comes to using these sites.

  1. Almost all of the information is in Japanese. These sites are almost always intended for Japanese users, so there usually isn’t information on them in other languages. Some of them do offer multilingual information, but they are still new and sometimes don’t have many of jobs available. To really use these sites to their fullest you will need a very high level of Japanese proficiency.
  2. The jobs aren’t really geared towards foreigners. This one is connected to point 1, but you’re unlikely to find companies actively looking for foreigners. Because of the language barrier, you won’t find many companies looking for people who don’t speak Japanese fluently.
  3. There isn’t much support on most sites.  This depends on the site–I had a great agent at Recruit a few years ago–but many don’t provide much support. If you don’t know what kind of jobs you’re suited for these sites are not going to help you find them.

crobo Recruiting – Foreigner Recruiting Companies

If you’re looking for work in Japan your best shot might be a recruiting agency specialized in finding work for foreigners. As I have explained in a previous article you need to be careful of scammers, but a reputable agent can be a big help. We here at crobo offer recruiting services for foreigners who want to work in Japan.

  1. The jobs are specifically searching for foreigners. This is pretty obvious, but we here at crobo work with companies looking for foreigners to work in their companies. You don’t need to worry about a company not wanting to hire you because of your nationality. For our clients that is a plus!
  2. You get personalized support. Many of these companies will support your application process and also introduce you to jobs that match your skills. We here at crobo work directly with you from paperwork to interview prep so you get the job you want.
  3. Service is 100% free. This depends on the company, but we here at crobo will introduce you to jobs 100% free. You won’t have to pay us anything to be introduced to jobs if we think you’re a good candidate.
  4. Focused job introductions. While other services have huge libraries of jobs, we here at crobo specialize in jobs in inbound industries. Whether it is hotel front jobs, travel company jobs, web media positions or IT sales, our clients want candidates who can bridge Japan and the world.


So that’s it, a basic guide on changing jobs and looking for new work in Japan! I hope you learned something from this and have a better idea on how to land your dream job in Japan.

If you’re looking for new work here in Japan or thinking about a career change feel free to contact us here at crobo for a free consultation or advice regarding your job change.

You can reach us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or via our contact page (although it is only in Japanese).