How To Find Tech Jobs in Japan

I often get asked how to find Software Engineering or related jobs in Japan and, to avoid repeating myself, thought I’d collate my advice here.

As with most places around the world, Software Engineers and ancillary roles (Product Design/Management etc.) are in high demand in Japan. Even if you don’t speak Japanese you can find a job here although the better your language skills, the more options you will have.

Getting started

Unless you are sent here by your existing company, finding a job remotely is going to be hard. Your chances will rise significantly if you are on the ground and able to meet people face-to-face. There are multiple ways to do this:

  • Visit as a tourist for a few weeks – the simplest approach although does limit the amount of time you can spend here and you can’t work while searching for your job.
  • Enrol in a Japanese language school – this will give you a visa to study and optionally work part-time while you search for a full-time job. Once you find a company to sponsor you, your student visa can be converted to a work visa.
  • Get a working holiday visa – available for young people under 30 from many countries (excluding the USA) and provides a year where you can travel and work part-time while you search for a full-time job.

Bear in mind that to get a job in Japan you are going to need a recognised university degree or over 10 years experience in a skilled field. 

There is no way to “self-sponsor” yourself for a visa directly but if you have money, a lot of patience, and someone Japanese to help you, it is possible to start a company in Japan which in turn can employ you.

Finding a job

Once you’re on the ground in Japan, there are a few routes to finding a job:

  • Tech job sitesTokyoDev and JapanDev maintain lists of “foreigner friendly” software developer positions with lots of other useful advice. Definitely a good place to start.
  • Networking – probably the most effective way of finding interesting jobs is through meeting people at events. There are plenty going on each week and here are a few ways of finding them:
    • Canvas – this community site is aimed at creative professionals in Tokyo but they have a good events section.
    • Doorkeeper – lists many upcoming events. For tech folks, it’s worth checking out Hacker News and UX Talk Tokyo.
    • Meetup – good for both professional and interest-based events.
  • Use a recruiter – there are many recruitment companies who will help skilled foreigners with job hunting in Japan but they will often try to place you at large companies where the cultural differences might not make for a very happy work life (think long hours and inflexible hierarchies). Wahl and Case seem to be better than most.
  • General job sitesLinkedIn, Wantedly, Justa and list plenty of jobs in major cities which you can apply for directly. Your mileage may vary but it’s worth having an updated profile on those sites.

When it comes to resumes and interviews, I don’t have much advice to offer but for tech jobs things are not much different to anywhere else. Be prepared for a lower salary than you would expect in places like San Francisco or London but that’s the trade-off you get for living somewhere awesome. Good luck!