Tips for writing a better resume for a job in Japan
Here are some pointers based on many years experience in Japan - as both CV writer and CV assessor - tips for writing a better resume for a job in Japan.
Keep it Concise
Keep your English CV short and to the point - a page of A4 or two pages at the most. Techniques such as bullet pointing and sub-titles highlighted in bold help you to compress a lot of information into a small space. Make your CV stand out, and you will be picked out.
Essential Information for Japan job vacancies
Include all the essential information that the person reading your resume needs. This includes your full name, date of birth, nationality, address and telephone number. Qualifications and experience for the job you are applying for must be included, anything not relevant can be omitted. If the job requires knowledge of the Japanese language include any qualifications you may hold such as your grade on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) and an honest assessment of your written and spoken levels of proficiency.
An up-to-date passport size photograph is essential, not a CV where the photo has simply been photocopied leaving an ugly black smudge in the top corner.
Japanese 履歴書 (rerekisho) in general ask for more information than an English-language resume. The standard B5 two page form can be purchased from stationers in sets of 3 or 5. The essential information includes name, date of birth, gender, address and telephone number. Your name and address should be written in Japanese kanji and furigana. Your education details need to be entered from elementary school to the present! Similarly with your job experience -- everything must be entered on the form, not just the details relevant to the particular job you are applying for.
There is further space for qualifications, your motive for applying for the job, hobbies, special skills and the name of a guarantor.
Japanese CV forms require a photograph to be attached to the top right hand corner of the sheet. Height of the photo should be 36-40mm and the width 24-30mm.
Japanese universities usually have their own rerekisho forms with similar amounts of information necessary. Get a Japanese friend to help you.
Check your English
Run a spell check on your CV and don't correct or update in pen. Print out a new resume. Pass it by a friend to see their reaction. Make sure your resume is up-to-date as far as the post you are applying for. Include action words in your resume such as designed, developed, organized, planned etc.
List Your Skills
Include a section where you list your basic skill sets: communication, team work, computers and software knowledge and for teaching jobs specialized skills such as CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning), knowledge of language labs or testing.
The Japan Experience
Many universities or language school employers may be looking for someone specific not just a native speaker. Age and gender discrimination is often a given so though you may be the best candidate on paper, you may be considered too old, the wrong sex or nationality. Don't despair, carry on to the next application.
Tips For Success At Japan Job Interviews
When applying for a teaching post at Japanese universities whether as a full-time professor or part-time lecturer, try to include a cover letter written in Japanese with your English CV. This would include your name, age and nationality as well as your qualifications and experience in brief written in Japanese. Again ask a Japanese friend or a professional translation service to help you with this, if you are uncertain of your language skills, but have it checked by a native speaker in any case. This is a giant step in getting you to the interview.
Publications are very important especially if you are looking for a tenured, full-time position at a Japanese university or college. Find organizations that will publish your work and be sympathetic to Japanese colleagues who may wish you to write a paper for them in return for having your name and theirs listed as co-authors. A minimum of three publications is the minimum to be considered for any multi-year contract at academic institutions in Japan.
Though you may not get the job on the first application a good CV always stands out and will be picked out later. Your competitor who got the job may drop out, find a better job or leave the country. Universities usually begin the hiring process for both full- and part-time staff in the autumn, but often in March a frantic game of musical chairs occurs, with personnel departments searching for available staff to teach classes. Make sure your CV is next in line by following the hints above.
Referees For Japan Job Applications
For a Japan-based CV application two referees is the norm. If these are Japanese citizens so much the better. For an academic application, the referees should be active in academia.
Consider Using a Professional CV Company
No matter how good you become at writing resumes, you are never going to be as good as someone who does it professionally. A small amount invested in a professionally written CV could lead you to getting that dream job you want.