We have been working with Japanese companies for a long time to understand how recruitment here works and what companies expect. Japan has been opening up to hiring foreigners for the past few years. But the Japanese culture is quite different from other countries. For instance, in some countries, staying in a company for too long is considered detrimental to your career prospects, but in Japan, staying longer is appreciated.
Let's take a look at what companies in Japan care about the most when it comes to hiring foreign nationals.
1. Long term commitment
In most places, lifelong employment has become a trend of the past. Japan has also seen this trend on the rise. It has become a more accepted phenomenon that the younger generations switch jobs more often.
But while this is becoming more prevalent, Japanese employers still expect new hires to commit for a long time, or at least a reasonable amount of time. Now what is reasonable - a couple of years, half a decade, or even longer, is open for debate. But get this, almost any project takes at least a couple of years to come to fruition or become profitable.
It is painful for any employer to lose a team member, whether a startup or an established organization, more so for startups or mid-sized businesses. When they lose a team member, lost knowhow, replacement costs etc affect them more.
If you are hoping to be recruited by a Japanese company, a job hopping history on your resume will not help. If you do have such a history, start thinking about how you can convince the employer that you won't abandon the company so easily this time.
2. Adapt to Japanese culture
This is true for any country really, when a foreign national lives in a country for a longer term, they expect them to adapt to the country's culture or at least try. Japan pays emphasis on following the culture and its nuances. If you talk to a foreigner who has been living in Japan for a couple of years, you'd know that they are still not fully adept with the Japanese culture.
The good thing though is that what the Japanese expect you to understand in their culture is mostly about respecting other people, their feelings, and their time. Punctuality (Jikan Genshu) or keeping your word (Yakusoku wo mamoru), small things but which have a great impact on how a Japanese employer would perceive you.
The Japanese culture is not defined by just these two terms. There are a lot of other "rules". But get these two ingrained in your daily life and it will take you a long way.
3. Learning Japanese
Being in Japan and wanting to work here, you have to know the language. Although this rule is not as steadfast as it was till some time back. Employers are opening up their workspace to non-Japanese speakers as well. But still a large percentage of companies hiring in Japan give preference to job seekers with a good command of the language.
Unless the company you are working with operates in multiple countries or has a largely remote staff, there are certain limitations they face if they hire non-Japanese speaking employees
- Limited knowledge of Japanese equals limited tasks. There would be some tasks they won't be able to assign to you - like customer-facing roles
- Difficult for you to work with a team that comprises of mostly Japanese speakers
There will always be some jobs that do not require much interaction between employees or can be taught without the knowledge of Japanese, in a more well-known language like English. But these jobs are fewer in number OR part-time positions.
Some professions do not require much knowledge of Japanese language - like IT professionals (although a lot of IT companies do look for bridge engineers who can speak both English and Japanese)
But overall, the culture and local language of a place you are trying to settle in does matter to a great extent.
If you are looking for a job in Japan, check out some quick tips which will help. Or if you have applied for a job already and waiting for your interview, make sure you get yourself ready for the interview by reading these do's and don'ts. Whether you are a student looking for a job, or a fresh graduate, there are job opportunities for everyone in Japan.