My Plan for finding work in Japan - some questions

Hello. I am currently working fulltime for a big European software company as a full stack developer.
Right now, I have a six months sabbatical planned for 2023 in Japan. I intent to spend the time mostly in Tokyo. I have been learning Japanese for the last 3 years and can hold a basic conversation.
My idea is to search for work during that time so I can meet up with potential employers and hopefully find a job that will issue me a work visa. This way, if I don’t find anything, I can just continue my current job.

  1. Is that a good way to go job hunting in Japan? Obviously, if I find a job, I will have to return to Germany for some days to cancel my apartment contract, sell my car and all the other stuff.
    Would that be a problem for a potential employer? Of course, when I get a job, I will move to Tokyo.

  2. I am not too sure what kind of company I should focus on. I am fluent in English, but have been learning Japanese for about 3 years now, and I am finally starting to understand and hold simple conversations. I intend to improve my Japanese and get fluent when going to Japan. But as a workplace I would need something mainly in English. Should I try Japanese companies with English job offers or stick to international companies?

  3. Unfortunately, I don’t have a university degree, instead I have a recognized IT education from the IHK in Germany (it’s called: IT Specialist for Software Development), it’s considered a good education in my country and a real alternative to a degree, but there is no real equivalent outside of the EU. I am very confident in my skill set, but I know that some companies might see that as a problem. Right now, I have about 10 years of work experience, and got promoted to the position of Principal Developer. Over here I get many serious and good job offers. Do you think my lack of degree is an issue in Japan and how would I work around that?

  4. It has been some time since I last applied for a job. Where could I read up on how to write my application, my CV and what to put in when applying specifically in Japan?

Maybe my skillset helps with answering:

Languages: Java, C#, Javascript, SQL, TypeScript
Libraries: .NET, jQuery, node.js
Others: HTML, CSS, Linux/Ubuntu

Also involved in a lot of Projects creating interfaces, frameworks, training junior employees, working in core development but also in project teams for customer specific implementations.

Thanks in advance.

Being a resident of Japan gives you a significant advantage over being abroad, but looking for a job on a tourist visa will only give you a slight one. Most internationally-minded companies in Japan have moved to an online interview process, and many offline events haven’t been happening since COVID. That being said, some companies will prefer people who have already had experience living in Japan, and even temporarily residing here will help with that.

The culture of the company is only somewhat correlated to whether it is headquartered in Japan or not. There are Japanese companies with an international culture, and international ones with a domestic one. So I think you can look at companies regardless of this.

Not having a degree will make it slightly harder to get a working visa. As you have 10 years of experience plus your IT education, you should still be eligible for it, But you’ll need to get documentation for everything. There’s no set format, so just whatever you can get, such as old contracts, bank statements, or letters confirming you were employed for that time.

Apart from the visa issue, most companies don’t care much if you have a degree or not once you’re past the start of your career.

If you’re applying for jobs in English, I wouldn’t do anything Japan specific for your applications, apart from highlighting that you speak Japanese and any other connection to the country you might have. Some general resources for improving your application are:

Thank you for your reply.

Obviously, those documents would in German, is that a Problem? Or do i need to get them translated. I do have enough documentation to prove i was employed for over 10 years.

What might that be? I’ve been to Japan for 4 weeks in 2019. I have some friends in Tokyo, one of them is japanese and a freelance developer, I often ask him about working in Tokyo. He would do what he can to help me out, but isn’t sure what he can do. But no hard connection like familiy in Japan.
Is that worth mentioning?

I don’t think you can get a clear answer on this until you apply. If you’re going through the German embassy, I suppose it’s possible that they would be able to handle this without translations. Regardless, as long as you have the source documentation, I wouldn’t worry about translation.

You could mention that you’ve been here as part of an application. E.g. “Since visiting Japan for four weeks in 2019 I’ve been looking for an opportunity to come to the country more permanently…” That at least establishes you won’t totally freak out on arrival.

ok, thanks for the infos. Just another follow up question. I know that i will be seeking a new job starting Mai or June of 2023. When would be a good time to start applying for open positions?

2 or 3 Months in advance? Or more?

When companies are hiring, they typically want you to start ASAP. A typical company’s hiring process takes a couple of weeks to a month, and processing a visa takes a couple of weeks to a couple of months. So in a typical case, you’re looking at two to three months from when you apply to when you’re in Japan, but potentially it’ll take longer. Some companies will let you start working remotely in your own country while you wait for a visa to be processed.

I see. So a few months ahead is a good timeframe.
Another questions for the jobs listed on your site. In your experince, how much of a deal beaker are the listed job requirements? Some jobs have a rather long list of required skills but from my experince in my countries market, it’s usually enough when you have an 60% to 80% overlap and can show that you will be able to pick up the remaining skills on the fly. Would you say it’s the same with the jobs posted here?

It really depends on the company. I encourage them to only list hard requirements, but some want to list the kitchen sink. A good heuristic is the longer the list, the less important any given one requirement is.