How to Write a Japanese Resume

By

October 29, 2014

Like many other affairs, Japan takes a very different approach to resume writing than what we are used to back home. There are two major hiring seasons in Japan in the early spring and the late summer, but it is never too early to start working on your resume.

When creating a Japanese resume, most companies prefer resumes to be handwritten. If you feel your kanji skills are not up to scratch, there are websites that allow you to enter your information and have it printed and emailed.

The Photo

The general rule of thumb when taking a photo for your resume is think of a passport photo. The more professional and presentable you look in the photo, the greater your chances are of being called in for an interview. The photo should be glued to the top right corner (4) of the resume.

job_photo_man job_photo_woman

Men typically wear a dark suit with a conservative tie. There are plenty of photo booths, not unlike the popular purikura, that specialize in taking photos just the right size for resumes and passports. It is even able to remove redness and any blemishes on your skin from the photo without having you do anything extra.

The booths can be found on the streets of business districts or at most major train and subway stations. In fact many machines let you pay with your train pass. To use the booth, step inside, close the curtain, and start to choose your settings. Of course, not every machine is same, but usually you will first be given the option to choose between a black and white photo and a color photo.

photo-booth

Then you will be asked what size photo you would like to print. For resumes, press the “Rirekisho” (履歴書) button. All that is left to do after that is to line yourself up with the camera and look your best. If the seat is too low or too high, it can be adjusted by turning to the right or to the left. There is a limited amount of tries, so it is in your best interest to try to get it right the first time. After you have choses your favorite photo, it takes only less than a minute to print.

The Resume

Japanese_style_resume

The rest of the resume is just as easy if you just follow the template step by step. It starts with basic information under the current date (1) including your name (2), stamp (3), date of birth, sex (5), phone number (7), and address (6). The first line at the top is to write your name (last, first) in furigana. Here you should write your name as it sounds in hiragana. Then in the section below, write your name in Japanese. For foreign names, katakana is acceptable.

resume1

The date of birth can be confusing because it uses the traditional Japanese imperial method of giving age. There will be a few kanji to choose from in the section which represent the emperors eras. Most likely you will be choosing between 昭和 (Showa) which spans the years 1926 – 1988 and 平成 (Heisei), 1989 – present day. For example if you were born in 1991 you would circle 平成 and and write the number 3 because it is the third year of that era. Then to the right, you should also write your age. Below that section is the area where you should put your current phone number and address. Again the template asks you to write the furigana on the line above. Finally for the first section, don’t forget to circle 男 for male and 女 for female.

resume10

The second section on the first page is for education (10) and work history (11). Each school that you attended should be written in chronological order with the dates of entry and graduation. For universities make sure to be specific and not the name of the branch along with any special certificates or awards that you earned while attending that school. The work history is written chronologically just as the school history. Unlike most western resumes, you don’t need to elaborate on the duties and requirements of all your previous jobs or try to explain how it is useful for the job you are seeking. After completing your job history skip and write 以上 showing that you are finished, but if you are still currently working note by writing 現在に至る.

resume12

Next you should write any accomplishments that you have achieved over the years such as licenses or certificates (12). This even includes a driver’s license. In a city like Tokyo many people do not drive, however some “paper drivers” get a license anyway just to appear more impressive on their resume. If you are searching for an English teaching position, this is where you would put any teaching certifications you have earned.

resume13

Next is the section is arguable the most important because it includes the reason why you are applying for the job (13). This is your opportunity to be creative and really appeal to the company by mentioning any special skills (特技) or interests (好きな学科). If you are applying to many companies at once, though, and would like to use the same resume, it is acceptable to write the common phrase for resumes “営業経験を活かして、 [field of work] の仕事にて活躍したい” which basically says that you would like to use your past skills and experience to work in a certain field. The rest of this section is asking for more personal information like commute time (14), number of dependents (15), and marital status (16).

resume18

The final major section is for desires, hopes, and dreams which obviously will include for you to talk about the kind of salary that you want (18). If would rather negotiate the salary face-to-face, you can write “ご相談させて頂きたいと思っております.” Otherwise, feel free to write down what you are worth in this area.

resume19

Finally there is a space for you to write information about your legal guardian if you have one (19), but after that, your resume is complete. The most important thing to remember is to be polite on your resume.

No matter how confident you may be in your Japanese skills, it is always a good idea to run your resume by a close friend who is a native speaker and also has experience writing resumes.

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  • Khanjan says:

    I am looking for Japanese professional terms for investment banking (M&A/PE) sector. It would very helpful if I can get some info on the above.

  • Den Sharma says:

    Some one kind enough to support me to build up my Japanese resume. I would be very grateful! Thank you !

  • Hanten says:

    I haven’t sent resume on paper for years. Doesn’t everyone do it electronically these days?

    Which brings me to my question – when you take a resume photo in the photo booth is there a USB port so I can store the photo electronically? Or at least an option to email the photo to myself?

  • maulinator says:

    This is a good primer. Bear in mind this result is only good for pretty old-fashioned companies. Tech companies, foreign companies and most service oriented companies (legal, consulting etc.) would also like the classic “American-style” resume. For example, I have interviewed hundreds of candidated throughout my career, and I do not even look at the Japanese resumes. They are meaningless. While in Japan information like marital status is considered OK, US companies cannot ask such personal questions like age, marital status, number of dependents etc, so I do not like looking at the Japanese resumes to begin with.
    With companies that are associated with the “new” economy, having a resume in Japanese that is “American-style” is important to get the interview. If you decide to do that, definitely have someone look at your Japanese resume before sending it over.

    • Samantha Cosby says:

      It may gradually be changing, but using the Japanese-style resume is still very much the norm even with foreign companies in Japan. I would assume if they don’t mention the type they want specifically it’s safer to go with the Japanese style.

  • papiGiulio says:

    I really hate filling out the resume, takes a lot of time and I don’t want to make a mistake, if I make one mistake I have write a whole new one otherwise it looks really bad and dirty in my opinion that is. Dont want to use the ‘im a gaijin ‘ excuse.

    But ive used printed out ones and never ever received a positive reply on them, so writing increases your chances by 80% at least.

    • Samantha Cosby says:

      I think only at the really traditional Japanese companies you have to do that. Most of my Japanese friends that are job hunting now don’t hand write their resumes.

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