Ultimate Guide to Jobs in Tokyo

Finally, everything you need to know about jobs in Tokyo

The Market Demand for Jobs in Tokyo

2019 has been quite a favorable time for foreign job seekers to find work. The job market in Tokyo is abundant and many companies are looking for both English and non-English speaking foreigners to meet their employment needs for the influx of tourists, increase of foreign residents, and the decrease in the Japanese population.

The challenge to finding a job is doing the right preparation, having the right skills, and knowing where to look and who to talk to. We go into more detail about where to find a full-time job here.

If you want some tips on how to write a cover letter and resume, understand employers, and rock your interview, check out ultimate guide to teaching English in Japan.

Full-time Jobs in Tokyo that Don't Require Japanese

There are tons of jobs in Japan for foreigners in the service industry for tourists, recruitment industry, tech industry, and the language industry. We cover each of the industries in more detail in our lists of Jobs in Japan for foreigners.

Do you need a Japanese resume?

You will need a Japanese resume for any positions that require higher than conversational level of Japanese or if you go the recruiter route.

Do you need to speak Japanese?

Many jobs in Tokyo require Japanese skills, especially if your main customers are Japanese or you will be interacting with Japanese clients.

The main type of positions that do not need Japanese skills are those where your customers are foreigners and you do not need to speak with Japanese clients, very high level positions where you have a Japanese secretary or staff to handle all the interactions in Japanese, or teach English in Japan.

You can learn Japanese through self-studying, taking lessons from a Japanese school part-time or full-time in Tokyo.

English Teaching Positions

Many full-time English teacher positions in Japan require that you have a University degree, but some small mom and pop places are fine without it. You also need to decide if teaching English to adults or an ESL job in Japan teaching children is better for you. Some people just don't have what it takes to teach children and vice-versa.

Can I apply for jobs from overseas?

Searching for a full-time position from overseas is simply saying you will have to spend more than 15x the effort to find a position. You will have to go the same route recommended as for domestic job searching but go through hassle to check to see if they hire from overseas.

Before you start the job search, learn about the Japanese visa requirements to save some time.

The good news is that Jobs in Japan does have a section where you can check for positions that hire from overseas here.

Part-time Jobs in Tokyo

There are tons of part-time jobs in Tokyo for foreigners in the tourism and service industries that do not require Japanese abilities.

What part-time jobs are there for foreigners in Tokyo?

You can find positions as a waiting staff, cook, hotel receptionist, cleaning staff, fast food delivery, convenience store, retail store, modeling and as a travel guide. Some coffee shops and cafes are looking for foreign staff as well like Blue Jam Cafe in Daikanyama. If you can speak some Japanese, you might even be able to get a part-time job in Tokyo at an izakaya or one of the beef bowl places that pay more than $13 or 1400 yen a hour for those who work after 10 PM.

For those with unique skills, you can also find a position in translation, freelancing as a photographer, designer or programmer, or marketing part-time. If you are super lucky, you might be able to find a paid design or marketing internship. Our Caucasian and black male readers here can also get a nice gig as a wedding priest - I am Asian and I have tried my best but I accept I do not match the stereotype.

What part-time jobs in Tokyo pay the most money?

Freelance, translation, and wedding gig jobs normally pay the highest in Japan but require the most previous experience. For people in university or new to the workforce, your best options for high paying part-time jobs are in teaching children. You can find a job teaching adults, but children teaching positions in Japan normally pay more than other types of positions.

What are the limits to doing part-time jobs

Depending on your work visa and company, you may have some limitations to the amount of hours and types of work you can do.

If you are on a student or dependent visa, you are only able to work up to 28 hours and you would need to get work stamp from immigration. If you are married to a Japanese person or are the child of a Japanese, you are able to work any full-time job you would like.

If you have a work visa, you are normally limited to work only in the area your work visa designates you to. If you have a specialist in humanities visa, you have more flexible compared to other types of work visas in Japan.

People on a tourist visa are not allowed to work in Japan.

Where can I find a part-time job in Tokyo

You can check out the lists of job board sites in our jobs in Japan for foreigners post. There are also a ton of Facebook groups for jobs in Tokyo and you can easily find them by searching on Facebook. Here are some of the bigger ones.

Part time jobs in Tokyo Facebook Group

Getting a part-time job in Japan Facebook Group

Interested in Teaching English

In addition to producing awesome content for BFF Tokyo, my company also runs an English school called One Coin English that focuses on teaching adults. We do not pay as much as children teaching jobs in Tokyo, but we do treat our staff really well and our students are great and you would have less stress with us compared to other schools.

Learn more about teaching English at One Coin English.

Teaching English in Tokyo - Conversation School

Teach English Part Time at One Coin English

In addition to awesome articles, we also run an English school with more than 100 teachers and 5000 students in 8 locations in Tokyo.

What Boards do you recommend for jobs in Tokyo?

Did you know that there are more than 30 job boards for foreigners in Tokyo and Japan? I was surprised to find so many after doing some deep research into what is available. 

Many of the sites can be found on google, but do not appear with a simple jobs in Tokyo search approach. You have to get a bit creative.

Lucky for you, our team at BFF Tokyo did the hard work for you and put together a long list of job boards for you and organized it based on what type of position you are looking for.

Here you can find all the jobs boards in Tokyo for foreigners.

On a side note, we highly recommend you check out, we are great friends with them and they are awesome people and you can find jobs from both large companies and small and medium size ones as well.

Networking for Jobs in Tokyo

Networking is like a spider web, the bigger and stronger your web is, the more opportunities and chances that will come your way. That being said, although it takes time to develop a solid networking, knowing the right person can save you several hours to hundreds of hours with one quick phone call.

Most of the best job opportunities can be found through your network if you know the right people. Companies are always looking for talented people and even if the person you met does not have a job opportunity for you in Tokyo, they may know someone who does.

You do not need work experience in the industry to network with others in that industry. It is gonna be harder because people will avoid speaking to you, but if you try hard enough, good things will happen.

We go more into where you can network and other ideas for improving your networking skills in Tokyo and Japan here

English Teaching Jobs in Tokyo

Welcome to Tokyo and the great news is that the most common and plentiful job in Tokyo for foreigners also pays decently as well. English teaching positions and career opportunities should be the first place you start searching for jobs in Tokyo. There are many different types of teaching positions available in this big city and they range from teaching toddlers and children, teaching your average Tanaka and Suzuki, or to even university students and business executives.

Depending on who and the company you teach for, the range in salaries for English teachers differs significantly, so doing proper research on what teaching jobs in Tokyo are out there for can save you from making a huge mistake by accepting a position because the salary is nice, but the working conditions are tough. The more common action is people not knowing about the higher paying positions and not setting themselves up to get those positions one year later.

Some preschools pay more than $3000 dollars monthly?!

For example, there are pre-school positions that pay over 300,000 yen a month, but they usually only want someone who more than 1 year of experience. How do you position yourself and where do you look for these positions? On the other hand, many of the large corporation pay around 230,000 starting for teaching children and doing essentially the same job but slightly less involved.

Choosing the right career path

Understanding the English teaching industry can also help you make the decision on what career path to take. For example, you are moving to Japan with your Japanese spouse and child and your are expected to be the bread winner of the family. You will probably need to consider jumping into the recruitment industry if you do not have a super high in demand position for non-English speakers or business Japanese skills to compliment your medium demand work skills.

The main reason for this is that the teaching positions that pay an amount of salary needed to support a family normally involves teaching at a university or private school or having one of the magical preschool or business positions that pay $3200 dollars or more plus doing private teaching on the side.

Let us help you research the English teaching industry

We dive into your options for teaching jobs in Tokyo in our ultimate guide to teaching jobs in Japan. This article mainly covers full-time teaching positions and you can see how much each position pays and general requirements they have for job applicants here in Japan. After discovering what type of teaching job in Tokyo you want, you can check out our guide on how to get a teaching job in Japan.

This second article focuses more on how to write a cover letter and resume and this leads on to helping you understand what recruiters are looking for and prepare your for the interview. We pretty much got you all set for finding a job in Tokyo teaching English.

I will also take an opportunity to give a shout out to my English school One Coin English which provides part-time jobs in Tokyo teaching adult students. We charge our students less than other schools, so the salaries are slightly lower than average, but the work environment is great and students are very appreciative with having affordable lessons.

Getting a Work Visa to Japan

The types of employment you can do depends heavily on what type of work visa you have. People with a work visa often can only work in one industry and one common example is for people with an instructor job in Tokyo. They cannot teach English outside of the education institute without a special exemption that you would need to obtain from Japanese immigration.

Below is a quick summary of the different work visa types that applies to most foreigners looking for jobs in Tokyo. There are many Japan visa types that are not work related and we go into much more detail about all your visa options to coming to Japan in our article on Japan visas.

Student Visa and Working Holiday

Additionally, did you know that someone on a student visa can only work up to 28 hours a week and a single minute more? This 28 hour rule also applies to a person on a dependent visa. However, if your spouse is a Japanese person, you are able to do whatever job you want and work as long as you want. People on a working holiday visa as well can work full-time, but will often notice that their options for full-time jobs in Tokyo is not as wide as someone on a normal work visa. I also forgot to mention that people on a student visa can work but need to get a stamp from immigration giving you permission to work in Tokyo

University Degree Makes it Easy

People who want to get a visa to Japan often get turned down for one simple reason. They did not graduate from a community college or do not have a university bachelor degree. As long as you have an employer who is willing to sponsor your work visa, you will have no problems with a bachelor degree. If you a 2 year trade or specialty school degree, you can only get a work visa if your specialty matches the industry of the job offer. So for those that have a specialty school degree, you will not likely be able to get a teaching position unless you studied teaching for 2 years.

There are many ways to come to Japan

The good news is that there is one way to get a visa without a university degree, but it involves teaching or working in the industry for 3 years full-time before coming to Japan. This is part of the skilled labor initiative, but you need good documentation to prove and have employers willing to mention and provide documentation. Come learn more about this and other ways to get a Japan visa.

Full Time English Teaching Jobs

Let us help you learn Japanese

In addition to awesome articles, we also provide the most affordable Japanese lessons in Tokyo at our school Japan Switch

recruiters in Tokyo

Can recruiters help you find great jobs in Tokyo?

Recruiters in Japan can help find some really nice jobs in Tokyo, but they cater to two types of work positions. The first type of positions are for those who have 8 to 15 years of experience in a certain field and are specialists in that area.

The second type of people are those who have just graduated University and are looking for entry-level positions. depending on which bracket you are in, the type of recruiter that you will talk to you is different.

Executive recruiters in Tokyo

Executive recruiters in Tokyo focus on hiring for positions four tiers and above. In other words your bosses, bosses, boss and above levels, which are usually vice president and director-level positions for marketing, finance, HR, and other specialized positions. If you are in an executive role in a company, you are already being headhunted and scouted nonstop and it is almost unavoidable because of how much money is involved. if you are not being headhunted or being contacted for these types of position then you are probably not an executive-level employee.

This is the high end and real cutthroat area of recruitment in Japan because the salaries are over 100,000 US dollars and the kickbacks for recruitment companies are often 30% of your first year's salary. Not your monthly but yearly salary which may sound like a lot but recruitment companies have to pay the salaries for training new agents and for nonperforming recruiters who are bringing in less money than is being spent on them.

The salaries for successful executive recruiters often surpass 10,000,000 yen yearly but it is a lot of hard work and takes many years to develop your network to the point that it starts to bring your new candidates through word of mouth. New recruiters may not even make one successful introduction in a whole year.

Just for the readers of BFF Tokyo, I did some investigative journalism and put myself on the job hunting market to do some research for you on what the process is like working with an executive recruiter.

Entry-level recruiters in Tokyo

On the other end of recruitment are recruitment companies who are looking for foreigners to fulfill entry level positions. If you are someone who is just graduating from college and looking for a starting position or if you are an English language teacher who has high Japanese abilities they may be able to find you a position in a Japanese company. Recruiters for entry level positions normally look for people to work at companies that have more than 10 employees. Companies under a million dollars in revenue cannot afford the introduction cost for new employees.

How the system works is that they charge the company for one month of your salary similar to how apartment agents charge you for one month of rent. Since companies have a set budget for salaries it usually comes from your first year salary and not from an outside budget.

These companies often hire foreigners from non-English speaking countries and if you can speak Japanese fluently these agencies are usually the way to go for quick introductions. The only flaw with their system is they get paid when a company hires you as opposed to being paid when finding you the right company, so your goals and their goals are not perfectly aligned.

One large benefit is that these companies often do seminars on job interviewing, job hunting, and working in Japanese companies and sometimes the training is very good because they want you to get hired as soon as and move onto the next person. Be aware that they sometimes charge a lot of money for seminars while others they offer for free. Some provide these training for free.

These companies focus more on quantity and have a wider net since they are targeting entry level positions. Recruiters here definitely make more money but since you net is wide you will not have to go through cold calling hell. If you can handle rejection and doing cold calling you may able to get a recruiter position in the executive end of recruitment. Here are some companies that assist with entry level jobs in Tokyo.

Japanese Website

English Website

Recruiters do not provide introductions for entry-level corporate positions

However, these companies will not introduce you to large Japanese corporation because large corporations usually use job ads to find employees on their own. Companies who use recruiting companies for entry level positions usually have more specific needs than a corporation. corporations often do not know what the division they will introduce you to until months after hiring you and will try to just gather large amounts of people applying to non-specific positions and then assigning people afterwards. Additionally, they already have a team to do recruitment for entry level positions.

Corporations often use recruiters for higher level positions because most executives are not using job boards and are often very comfortable in their position and are not actively seeking a position. Your job as an executive recruiter is to try to sell them the benefits of jumping ship.

Recruitment Industry in Tokyo

We go into more detail about recruitment agencies and the recruitment job market in Tokyo and this may help you in taking the next step in your career by showing you what opportunities you have for jobs in Tokyo through a recruiter.

Finding the Perfect Recruitment Consultant Agency

Now that you understand the difference between an executive and entry level recruiter, the next step is to find the perfect recruitment agency for you. Many people do not realize how equally big the decision of changing their job is compared to other things like buying a home. For this reason, we have noticed that many job seekers who approach recruitment consultants and agencies are completely under prepared for finding a job in Tokyo through a recruiter.

Finding the right recruitment agency involves knowing what type you need their help brekaing into and doing a deep self-evaluation to find out what you want. We discuss about the different type of recruitment consultant agencies in Japan and provide a checklist of self-reflection questions to ask before reaching out to them to help you find jobs in Tokyo.

Finding the Perfect Executive Consultant in Tokyo

Step 2 in using a recruiter for finding a job in Tokyo is to choose the right recruitment consultant. Now that you have done the personal deep dive into what you want for your career using the questions in the article in the previous paragraph, you are now ready to interview recruitment consultants to find the right person who will help you find the right opportunities.

We prepared a list of questions to help you distinguish between a good recruiter and a bad recruiter and another set of questions to determine how knowledgeable they are which you can use to compare recruiters before you decide to choose one. They are more than a few bad apple recruiters in the Tokyo area, and we understand how annoying they can be. However, we request that you treat the recruiters time with respect and you never know, they may help you find a job in Tokyo in your time of need.

Jobs in Tokyo - My Experience with Robert Walters Japan

What I do for the readers here at BFF Tokyo... If I am going to help you find some jobs in Tokyo, I will have to practice what I am preaching.

I had been declining interviews to meet with recruiters from Robert Walters Tokyo for years. They continued to send me job offers throughout the year and received one just as we were preparing our using a recruiter in Tokyo guide. I decided why not and I share my journey meeting a Robert Walter's recruiter in person and some tips on how to prepare for your first meeting with a recruitment consultant.

Why Robert Walters Japan? I have had friends who have worked for them and some friends who have just started working there. They are one of the most famous recruitment agencies in Japan and are well known for their professionalism. You never know, they may recruit me to do their PR with all this promotion.

Doing Proper Research on Companies

You do not like your job because you did not do enough research before you signed the contract

I often meet foreigners who really dislike the position and company they are in. In most cases, they found their job in Tokyo through one of the traditional ways of finding employment such as through an agency, jobs fairs, or through online ads or other platforms where companies need to pay to find people. The most common reason I found for a person not liking their job was because they did not know what type of position they wanted before signing the work contract and was more concerned about finding a position as opposed to finding the right one.

This is a mistake you will make a lot in your 20s because you often do not know exactly what you want yet because you have not experienced enough work environments. After experiencing multiple and hearing from people who had great and bad experiences, you have a clearer idea of what type of boss and company you would like to work for. I discovered that most people who disliked their job did not know or understand the company culture they were getting into before signing the contract.

What ended up happening was that their main goal was to find a company that would sponsor a work visa and in the end they got what they thought they wanted....a work visa. Their main goal was not to find a company that offered interesting or challenging work, so they ended up finding a position that was neither not interesting or challenging unfortunately. Tough love from an older brother here, but you often get what you are looking for.

To summarize, finding the good jobs in Tokyo is first knowing exactly what you want and then thinking backwards to guide your research to focus on things that are relevant for you goal. Portraying one clear message about who you are and what you are looking for in your resume and LinkedIn profile creations and networking. Many companies will say no to you, but when you find one that is a match, your needs and their needs will match more strongly than with other candidates and you will more likely find the position you can grow in and will want to remain in for multiple years.

Finding a workplace that is inspirational is tough

Many Westerners and especially Americans want to work for a workplace that is inspiring. A place that is inspiring is by definition a place that knows exactly who is the lawyer and where they want to be and that excites other people and wanting to join them in the journey. People who are inspirational are not going to want to hire someone who does not know want to see what they want to do because not knowing when you want to do is not inspirational. That is the unfortunate paradox of the work environment where the people who need inspiration are unable to attract the attention of the workplace that is inspirational. I am sharing this information with you because I do not want you to waste months years and maybe decades of your life working for a place that does not bring you joy.

Finding an Internship in Tokyo

Internships are hard to find in Tokyo because they are not actively posted on job boards unless the company is serious about hiring an intern and is willing to pay money to post it on a job board. Most of the internships I discover are those being done by friends or running to random posts on the internet. 

Know What you Want from the Company

I would love for an intern to provide me a clear idea of what they would want to gain from the internship and what areas they would like to work on. This has almost never happened and I have to dig out what they are truly interested in before bringing someone as an intern. Having someone who knows exactly what they want from the internship would make it much easier for the company to choose an assignment or area to improve on.

Why Should I Do an Internship?

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