Email Cover Letters: Tips For Getting Your Application Read
By Daragh Walsh
If you find a position you like in Japan and wish to apply for it, a lot of the time you have to send the company an application email. This can be tough for a lot of people. It’s very hard to know what to write when sending an email into the human resources void.
So, how do you do this? Here are some tips to get your foot in the door.
Show that you would fit and be comfortable in the role working for a Japanese company
The biggest concern employers have when considering a foreign employee is: “Will you be able to comfortably adjust and fit in?” They’re looking for someone who will not only fill the role but also will be happy in the position within the organization as a whole.
Remember that you’re going to be working in a foreign country, potentially for the first time. On top of the stress of starting a new job, you’ll also be making new friends, adjusting to a new diet, battling homesickness and learning the lingo. For the company, this an HR minefield (especially if it’s supporting your relocation) and the risk of an applicant deciding to go back home out of the blue weighs heavily in their minds.
If you can quell this concern from the get go, the process from there on should be smoother, and more direct.
This can be somewhat difficult as you have to walk the line between selling yourself as capable without coming off as arrogant. Simplicity is key: briefly mentioning one or two relative points is much more preferable to copying out your entire resume in the hope that something grabs their attention.
Most initial positions in Japan are not as specialized as in the West and on-the-job training is usually expected. Do not give the impression that you expect to know everything as soon as you sit down on your first day. The emphasis should show not only that you are experienced, but also that you enjoy participating in teams to learn new things. Examples from past positions are a big help here.
Most initial positions in Japan are not as specialized as in the West, and on-the-job training is usually expected.
Show that you understand the position
For a company to consider you, you need to be able to show a general understanding of the position. You can relate it to previous experience, or state you are looking forward to learning XYZ.
Express that your interest in the company extends past: “It’s in Japan!”. Ask yourself questions like:
- What about the position makes me interested in applying?
- Will the company’s business trajectory be able to incorporate in my career plans?
- What has the company done recently and how might this be related to the role?
A little prior research on the company goes a long way.
If you come across as under- or over-qualified for the job, or not able to show interest in the specific company enough to persuade them otherwise, this will go against you. How can you contribute to the company and make it better? Many applications can come across as self-centered, full of details of how experienced an applicant is — but with no explanation of how they plan to bring that to the job itself.
Show that you’d be a nice person to work with
You could be the most talented person on the planet but if an employer doesn’t like you then it’s highly unlikely that they’ll pick you to be a part of their team. When deciding whether to hire someone, recruiters nearly always consider the dynamic of their current employees and whether a new person can become a part of that. Basically: how well you work and how well you work with others are equally important.
Read your email out loud to get an idea of paragraph length. Generally speaking, if you can’t read a paragraph in under 15 seconds, you might be over explaining.
Subject: Application for the Position of Explorer, British Royal Navy
To whom it may concern,
My name is Mr. James Cook, and I wish to apply for the position of explorer that was posted on GaijinPot Jobs.
What interests me about the position is that your company appears to be expanding into the Australian market. Being an explorer would put me at the forefront of this expansion, allowing me to put my skills of diplomacy and topography to practical use as part of a team to ensure the success of your endeavour.
I have some familiarity with the expectations of the position. Previous work experience required overseas travel to the Americas, where, as a cartographer, we successfully mapped the coast of Newfoundland. I enjoyed the experience and hope that in this different environment I can improve upon my abilities and through training learn more so that in time I may take on roles of increasing responsibility.
Attached is a copy of my resume. I would appreciate you taking the time to review my application. If you wish to contact me, I can be reached easiest through this email address, or by phone at 012 345 6789.
Another thing to note is that this email, like everything else you send to the company, could be on the desk at your final interview. So please make sure that it’s both polite and formal, and like your CV —truthful. (Or at least don’t let us find out!)
Hopefully, these tips will help get your thoughts in order before applying for that dream job in Japan. The rest is up to you.