Getting a Job in Japan: Why are you here?

In this short and hopefully concise advice series, I will give some tips to help you find work in Japan. The posts I write will be about the education industry in Japan since that’s the one I work in.

I will give some tips to help you find work in the ESL industry, either as an eikaiwa (language school) teacher or as an ALT (Assistant Language teacher) in public/private schools. Some advice will also be about finding jobs in international schools.




Why are you here?

We all have different reasons for wanting to come to Japan to work and live. Some people love Japanese culture and history. Some people are fascinated with the natural and historical beauty of Japan. Others may be fascinated with popular culture, manga, anime and games.

These are all great reasons to like Japan, but when writing a cover letter or having an interview for a teaching position in Japan shouldn’t be things you list as reasons you are applying for the job and hoping to come to Japan.

Your potential future employer is looking to hire a teacher. They want someone who is professional, dedicated and hardworking. They are looking for someone who is serious about education.

It’s all too common for foreign English teachers to come to Japan for a good time, not a long time. Many people who travel here to teach are here to party, have fun, travel and live life to the fullest. Many use teaching as a financial means to do this. This of course means that teaching is secondary at best and many take the job with little seriousness or professionalism. Schools that have dealt with foreigners for any amount of time are wary of this and maybe even suspicious of new hires.

When writing your cover letter, saying something like, “ I am interested in coming to Japan to teach because I have a passion for education and feel I could be a valuable addition to your professional team.” “I am a dedicated and passionate educator who could make a serious difference in the English education of young learners in Japan.”

Those are the kinds of things employers want to read in a cover letter or hear during an interview.

They don’t want to hear, “I want to come to Japan to teach because I love anime and think AKB48 are amazing!” “I want to teach in Japan because I love martial arts and my favorite movie is The Last Samurai.”

Although these may be the actual reasons you fell in love with Japan or Japanese culture, the HR department at a school doesn’t want to hear that!

Employers in Japan want productive and professional teachers on their staff. When applying for a job, make sure you sell yourself as a professional (even if you have little experience).



Kevin O’Shea is the host of the Just Japan Podcast. He is also a professional educator with more than 14 years experience in Korea, Canada and Japan.

Twitter: @jlandkev






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