Many people dream of expatriating in Japan in order to work and live there for a long period. But once they get in the country, they find out that it is not so easy to find a job there. Between the language, which is so different and difficult to learn, and the differences regarding ways of life and society, many abort they trip and get back to other country, facing their heavy defeat. Let’s give you some advices to not fall into this category.
Japanese hierarchy struggle to hire foreign workers
First of all, you have to know that Japanese people are very conservative. For instance, it is very hard to go out in bar and pubs at night without being invited by a local at first. The same principle applies for companies. If you have not been recommended by a local worker, you’ll have more difficulties to find a job there.
Indeed, Japanese hierarchy seem to struggle to hire foreign workers. It represents a risk that they find difficult to take. This is mainly due to the fact that Japanese society is so different from ours. In Europe for instance, workers usually have many advantages and liberty that they consider as normal. But in Japan, hierarchy is much stricter than in the rest of the world. Taking initiatives is not something we would recommend, at least until you feel really comfortable with your superiors.
Learning Japanese language in Japan, the key to success
Of course, the main challenge you’ll face while trying to settle in Japan and in a Japanese company is to learn the language. You probably already knew a few works if you decided to move there, but it won’t be enough if you hope to find a good job. Once you get in the country, we recommend you find a Japanese language school in Tokyo, like sng.ac.jp/en, or any other city you plan to live in.
Studying Japanese in Japan is different from learning it in your home country. It will help you to meet local people (many expatriated start their integration thanks to their local Japanese teacher) and learn not only the language, but also the way their society works. Also, you’ll be able to ask your teacher to teach you specific terms and expression you may need in your actual or futur job. If you are an independent trader at home for instance, ask him or her to teach you the vocabulary you’ll need for your job, but also the different commercial techniques used in the country, which are definitely different from ours.
Understanding local society, another « must do »
As we said, learning Japanese language won’t be enough to make the difference. You also need to fully grasp the subtleties of the local society in order to success in your new job. Not only the subtleties of your actual job, but the one of the entire country. For instance, note that in Japan, beyond doing your own job, we firstly need to think « working together for the good of the company ». In these terms, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to mop the floor of clean the desks.
Another example is that you will probably be tested by your hierarchy at first. Your superiors might ask you to do a task that is much below your expertise, like rewriting a file as it would be much simpler to photocopy it. They will do that, not in order to test your skills, but your ability to follow orders. That’s why we mentioned not taking initiatives until you feel totally comfortable with your superiors.
Note also that in Japan, although it might be difficult to find a job, it is also rare to be fired. Indeed, your superiors will rather downgrade you, sometimes down to washing the toilet, than firing you. In this case, it will be your choice to leave if you are not satisfied with it. But always remember that determination is a key point at this stage. It can also be a test to pass before rising again in the company.