Most people want to know what it takes to move to Japan, and live in Tokyo without having to teach English to young kids. You talk about moving to Japan and living there, but really if you are honest with yourself, the dream is to live in Tokyo.
If you’re an American like me, it’s going to be hard for you. It is something that you will need to work on and lay the groundwork for prior to coming. (Americans can only stay in Japan on a 3 month tourist visa per trip, and without a residence card, you cannot apply for a bank account, contract a cell phone, or do anything aside from spend your own money!!!!)
One thing that I cannot suggest enough is to LEVERAGE LINKEDIN!!!! Linked in is a great way to build contacts and socially proof yourself.
Put yourself in the shoes a potential employer…. who would you rather hire? The guy who has no common connections, or the guy who has 500000 common connections in your industry. Build your linked in profile!!!! If you are not already doing this, you should be slapped.
Here was the point A-B process for me getting hired in Japan.
2012 – Exchange Semester in Shanghai China – First time overseas, learned basic Mandarin, was exposed to the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur. Tried to Stay, was going to quit school in order to intern, couldn’t find a legal way to stay. The chinese have a saying or chengyu… 破釜沉舟， which means smash the cauldrons and burn the boats, or cut off all angles of retreat. I went back to chicago feeling a bit defeated, but resolved.
2013 – Slogged through one last semester in Chicago while cold calling Comapnies in Shanghai, hated being in an environment where no one knew the possibilities of economic growth in Asia, it was like jumping in a time machine and going to the roaring twenties for 5 minutes and then being dumped into the middle of the great depression. All during this last semester I was emailing companies with resumes, finding their ceos and emailing them.
(ALWAYS…. ALWAYS!!!! Email the person in charge. The leader of a company will not be insecure and perceive you as a threat, they will also be impressed that you have the balls to email them directly. Successful response rate may be much lower, but if they do respond, chances are, you’re coming into that interview with a whole lot of clout in your corner. Who wants to tell the CEO that the candidate they recommended for an interview was an idiot? … but I digress.)
Received an email from the coo of http://www.italki.com, they have a position – one catch, can’t sponsor visa. I figure out a way to quasi-legally work by self sponsoring my own business visa. (Many other foreigners did this, the category has since been neutered.) I sell all of my things and buy a one way ticket to Shanghai.
2013 – Shanghai – I slog it out for 9 months on Low-Pay, meet awesome people at an awesome church community, and end up meeting my now wife. In this time I was able to take a trip to Tokyo with friends and experience Japan for the first time. I was also able to travel in China, learn Chinese and be exposed to many different cultures, foods, opinions, and attitudes.
Meet my now wife; She is only in town for a few months. I quit my job and move to Hong Kong because that’s where she’s going back to.
I show up in Hong Kong with no solid plan and no prospects. I cold call every english speaking sales position available, after four weeks I have two offers. I take a position as a Surveyor for an upscale moving company servicing hyper-wealth individuals. I meet many REAAAALLLY rich people. Some are nice, most are not. Almost all of them have maids. I need to get out of Hong Kong.
After one year, we decide to take action. I quit my job and we book tickets to Japan. Before coming, I reach out to several different companies through linked in. One of which I’m familiar with and I have used their products. I tell them that I have already booked my tickets and that I will be in town from x to x. (IF YOU WANT TO COME TO JAPAN It is always a good idea to commit to your outcome and give the employer the knowledge that you will already be there. It gives them the ability to not be concerned with your well being. It is not their fault if it does not work out for you, and it absolves their responsibility.)
I get hired. – I work hard.
If you do get hired, make sure you don’t act like a ponce, running around and partying. Show up to work on time and do your best to give your new employer the knowledge that you are serious and that you want to continue working there.
Getting a job in Japan is something that you need to work towards consistently, and build your skillset towards. If you are not fluent in Japanese that’s okay, but you need to be able to justify to the Japanese Government, why you are valuable.
Learning Japanese Helps.
If you want to learn Japanese and get a heads up over other people, I recommend lessons from this website: http://www.japanesepod101.com/member/go.php?r=1129126&i=b27
So as you can see, my moving to Japan was a long time coming with a resume that aided me, and a commitment and risk that allowed me to show that I was serious.
Know your outcome and achieve it!