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Software Architect in Tokyo


I am a software architect working in Toronto currently interested in moving to Japan for a while. I have 7+ years of work experience mostly in Java but recently been getting into more Cloud technology. I have also been managing people for around a year. My experience has mostly been in Tech consultancies with exception of one financial institution and another startup.

I contacted a recruiter from Indeed Tokyo, as I know they pay well and have no Japanese language requirement, but they said that they look for more large enterprise experience in resume (which is weird tbh).

I was wondering what kind of companies I can go for in Tokyo area, which have a good work culture, work life balance and also good salary (10 mil and above). I also enjoy doing consulting work, but I am guessing that won’t be possible unless I am at a N1 or N2 level of Japanese.

Thanks a lot, Sorry if some of these questions are very basic :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m afraid you cannot expect to make this much. Have you checked out the job board yet? Not all of the positions list salary, but here’s one that maxes out at 5 million and here’s another one which is about the same. For whatever reason, salary for mid-career developers can be quite limited in Japan compared to North America.

It’s a bummer, I know. If you’ve already got an established career in North America, you’ll probably be losing money to come to Japan. But it’s plenty enough to live in modest comfort, and some of us are just hooked on that expat lifestyle.

I’ve noticed that often companies that pay well don’t list a salary.

As a mid-career developer, if you can land a job at a moderately large, internationally minded tech company (e.g. PayPay, SmartNews, Line, and Mercari), I think 10 million plus is probably within the realm of possibility.

Companies like these tend to take a lot of inspiration from FAANG with their recruiting process, so if you think you could get hired at somewhere like Google, you can probably get a position there (and it’s even more likely if you are already working for a company like that).

That being said, a lot of the opportunities I’m listing are at startups, where I think it is much easier to get hired. As these companies don’t have as big a hiring pipeline, and with a bit of effort creating a customized application for the company, it’s easy to stand out and get their attention. Working at one of those companies, your salary is more likely to top out at around ¥8 million.

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@pwim Thanks for your reply and funny you mention FAANG. I know indeed pays well in Japan, so I contacted one of the recruiters for a Sr Dev position. She said that they look for people who have “web app development(especially in recent roles) including coding for large-scale system”, and said that she is not sure how most of my roles being in client based scenarios will be useful. I think she is looking for an Amazon or similar company on the resume.

I will look at the companies mentioned above. In your experience, for the positions mentioned above, is it a level playing field when it comes to interviewing as a foreigner? Or do I have to perform above and beyond for them to consider me vs someone local?

Also, I am curios to what do the above mentioned companies value? Is it mostly all about technical or they value things like leadership/client facing/managerial potential etc a well?

Thanks a lot for the reply and this website. It’s really helpful :slight_smile:

Okay, so you just contacted one of Indeed’s recruiters directly on LinkedIn or something? If that’s the case, I could see them saying that you might not be able to get a position with them, even if you do have a chance. So I think it’d be worth your time formally applying via their careers site or whatever. That gives you a chance to make your case why you’re a good fit, and it’s my understanding that multiple recruiters will review your application, and another one may have a different opinion than the recruiter you talked to.

The companies I’m mentioned (and really any I’m listing on the job board) are specifically looking to hire non-Japanese developers. So from that perspective, I don’t think foreigner vs Japanese makes a difference. If anything, I think they’re more enthusiastic about non-Japanese developers, as while they have a huge brand within the domestic market, and thus naturally get Japanese candidates that way, most people outside of Japan have never heard about them.

However, they do prefer candidates already in Japan. Obviously COVID-19 has made it a lot more challenging to hire someone from overseas. But even that not withstanding, it’s still going to be higher cost and risk to relocate someone from overseas. Now those companies have big budgets for hiring, and so I’m not sure how much of a difference it would make it normal times, but certainly right now I’ve had some of them tell me they’re only considering truly exceptional matches.

As I think is standard, most larger internationally-minded tech companies have both a IC and managerial track for developers. They are normally wanting to hire people who are highly technical, but non-technical skills on top of that are valued too.

@pwim Thanks a lot for that reply. Makes sense. My timeline for this is next year beginning anyways, so hopefully the world would be back to normal by that point. I have been a Java developer for most of my career, but at my current job, I am getting to learn a lot of cloud and devops tech at the client while managing developers at my own consultancy. So that way I am widening my tech knowledge and also getting managerial experience at the same time. I will keep an eye open on the website for a good match in the meantime :slight_smile: