Finding a full-time gig in Japan while over there, work visa expiring soon?
May 26, 2012 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Looking for work in Japan - Have a work visa that will expire in early August. Details inside.

Hi everyone,

I was an English teacher (ALT) in Japan for two years, and have a Japanese major/English minor. I decided not to stay on for a third year due to some personal/family problems.

Now I will be doing a part-time job over in Japan over in the summer, and after much soul-searching have decided to try for a more permanent position in japan and get my work visa renewed while I am there.

Unfortunately, I do not have much time - The visa will expire on August 2nd. I will be in Japan from June 1st until the visa expiration date, unless I am able to secure another gig. And I know that it takes at least a few weeks to change the visa over.

I have somewhere between JLPT 1-kyuu and 2-kyuu Japanese at the moment (am taking JLPT N1 in July). I can speak, write and read fairly well, in my opinion. If possible I'd like to find a position in which I could use the Japanese I've learned, but I realize that I am running out of time.

I am currently looking on some job sites like careercross, gaijinpot, and a few temp agencies.

Anyone have any experience with anything like this? Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

PS: (I am in the States now, but will be in Japan in a week)
posted by Kamelot123 to Work & Money (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It is hard to answer your question without knowing:

What kind of visa do you currently have?
What kind of job are you looking for?
What is the part time job?
Where are you located in Japan?
posted by Infernarl at 4:54 PM on May 26, 2012

Why not go back to ALT-ing (even if with a different company)? With your previous experience and education, you shouldn't have much trouble finding something. Even if it's low paying and less than ideal, do it for the visa. Get on the shortest contract length you can and then use that window to get your JLPT settled and plan your next move.

If you're planning on living in Japan long-term, there's no rush.
posted by Kevtaro at 6:06 PM on May 26, 2012

Sounds like you're qualified enough and have experience. It shouldn't be hard. I know a few so-so 英会話 / Preschool places that are always looking but I wouldn't really recommend them. I got a guy that is always bragging about his Berlitz. Makes pretty good cash too it seems.
Also check out the local free rags like Kansai Flee Market or Kansai Scene. You might not find the best job, but those come by word of mouth.

For teaching jobs the market picks up a the end of the Japanese school year with the advertisements starting late fall. The outsourced ALT companies typically hire from September to March and will do visas. Good tide over job till you can find something more stable.

Good luck.
posted by sleepytako at 8:23 PM on May 26, 2012

Yeah, your best bet is to get a "survival job" someplace via Gaijin Pot (there seem to be more jobs than in past years, likely because of 3/11) and then try to find something you really want. Most of the jobs want you to be in-country, so you have that going for you.

As for finding a "career" job where you can use your Japanese skills, if you are in Tokyo you should start attending American Chamber of Commerce mixers. If you are not in Tokyo, contact the local American Chamber rep.

Indeed, you may consider trying to get a teaching job in Nagoya - they tend to pay better, and fewer foreigners end up there, so there is less competition - and then work as an in-house translator for one of the auto firms there in future years.

I really like Nagoya myself and would consider living there, although at this stage of my life it is doubtful I would ever get a job there that would support my family.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:21 PM on May 26, 2012

Nthing the idea of getting a job for a visa. You've missed the main hiring period (April is when companies do most of their hiring, both ELT and Japanese companies), and you're a bit early for the September hiring period (usually there's a small demand for ALTs to replace foreigners who, for whatever reason, won't be continuing into the fall term). If you want to stay, bite the bullet, get a job for a visa, and work from there. Bear in mind, too, that the visa rules will be changing from July, but no one is wholly sure of what, exactly the changes will be. They seem to be rolling out a simplified system that will have fewer classifications, and be good for one, three, or even five years, but there's no guarantee you can get a longer visa.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:10 AM on May 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Piggybacking on Ghidorah's post to link to this PDF from the Immigration Bureau of Japan about the new system starting from July.
posted by Kevtaro at 4:53 AM on May 27, 2012

Thanks for the advice, guys! To clarify for the first poster:

1. I am in on an instructor visa.

2. That is open - I don't have any specific skills unfortunately, so something like IT is out (I know that is big for foreigners.) A job in which I could use my Japanese and learn about different industries is ideal.

3. Part time job is English teaching at a friend's Eikaiwa. I have already checked, and know I won't get a visa out of that route. I will have plenty of time to search in the meantime.

4. I will be in Tokyo.

If anyone else has anything to add, feel free. I'll be looking into that Chamber of Commerce thing for sure.
posted by Kamelot123 at 7:00 AM on May 27, 2012

1. Try to get out of teaching ASAP.

2. Get a job where you can acquire skills beyond Japanese, whatever you can get passionate about. Or at least not immediately bored.

3. Perhaps translation might be something for you. That way you can use your Japanese while acquiring additional skills. I consider JLPT 1-kyuu the bare minimum you need to be translating professionally (otherwise you'll be too slow), so you might consider getting a job as a translation checker first. There are tons of translation places in Tokyo that hire checkers/proofreaders. Another option might be patent law firms or similar places that do a lot of translation. The pay will probably be poor at first (but then again, probably not much worse than teaching), but at least you be able to build skills.

4. Once you've decided on a career path, try to meet as many people as you can from that industry.

5. Did I mention that you need to get out of teaching? Now?
posted by sour cream at 3:22 PM on May 27, 2012

Thanks for the advice, all. I will most likely be taking a half year teaching gig (3-days, part-time) which apparently is able to sponsor my visa. I'll be looking for a way out of English-teaching in the meantime. I have a few more job conferences coming up, but time is running out so I am running out of options.

If anyone has any leads, please feel free to let me know!
posted by Kamelot123 at 8:31 PM on July 4, 2012

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