Archive for February, 2009
Getting a Job in Japan: Japanese Speaking Ability – While Not a Requirement, It Has Its Advantages
Okay, well a common question I get when I meet people currently living in Japan as well as traveling through Japan is “do I need to speak Japanese to get a job in Japan?” To answer this question, it really depends on what exactly you mean by a job. Are you looking for something fun that will provide you with a salary and some freedom, or are you looking for something more, such as a career, something that will provide you with a nice salary and potential growth and career advancement?
If the answer to this question was the former, then there are plenty of these jobs, but most involve you teaching English, being a recruiter, or bartending at a bar. These are the most common jobs held by individuals living in Japan that cannot speak Japanese. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, as there are other jobs available, but these are the most common. Now, as with any country, if you possess a skill or trade that very few people can match, there is always a job for you and you will always be sought after; whether you speak Japanese or not.
Let’s say something very specialized, like a scientist that studies and creates new drugs. I’m pretty sure these people have jobs here in Japan and are required to use very little Japanese, if any at all. But if you were one of these people you would already know this. Another example is an amazing American football player. There is an American football league here in Japan and there are several teams here in Japan that have recruited and paid talented American football players to play on their team. They give them an imaginary job at their company (like Toshiba, Panasonic, etc.) with a real desk to sit at and a salary of over 100k USD to play football. Their teammates even learn basic plays and calls in English so that they can communicate on the field, all because he is a valuable asset and can run faster and throw the ball farther. So if you have something to offer that can’t be beaten, the rules that apply to Joe the plumber, don’t apply to you.
Okay, so let’s not get off topic too much. Where are these jobs available and to who? Well, the above list I gave you, the only job that applies to areas outside of Tokyo, Japan are the English teachers. You could easily get a job teaching English anywhere in Japan, or any country for that matter, and it’s pretty much the only job you could get anywhere in Japan without speaking Japanese. But, you are probably reading this article, or at least I hope you are, to find ideas and answers on how to find a rewarding career in Japan in a industry with upward and outward mobility. Hence, you are probably not looking for ways to find an English teaching job in the mountains of Japan, so let’s move on.
Now, that leaves us pretty much with Tokyo as being the only area to really find work in Japan. This is not to say you couldn’t find a job in Osaka, Kobe, or Yokohama, some of the largest cities in Japan outside of Tokyo. But, it would be extremely difficult, as most of the jobs are in Tokyo. It’s the same reason most Japanese relocate to Tokyo for work. For example, rather than you having 300 companies to choose from in Tokyo you will have something more like 2 when outside of Tokyo. Opportunities are just more limited and the number of jobs and the industries outside of Tokyo are simply scarce, especially for the foreign worker. For the most part, everything happens in Tokyo. The Japanese relocate to Tokyo from other prefectures to get a job, because good jobs are far and few between in other cities and unless you want to work in a factory, retail store, restaurant, or sell potatoes out of a street vendor cart, you will need to look towards Tokyo for a job.
If you wish to be a headhunter, there are plenty of opportunities in Tokyo to do this as well. The payout is nice, so I hear, but it’s not really a job that offers you much career growth, and it’s definitely not a job for everyone. You will and should end up being a fantastic sales person and reader of people, but other than that, there is not much to further expand upon. However, this might be a good career path as a jumping point. You can meet many people, network, see what jobs suit your tastes and then at the right time interview out to these companies and start your career.
Another industry in Tokyo often found to be filled with many foreigners that cannot speak Japanese, is the financial industry. There are plenty of people in Tokyo working for the Merrill Lynch’s and Morgan Stanley’s of the world. But of course most of these people come from backgrounds in finance and have been relocated to Japan on expatriate packages, so you are not probably reading this article if you are currently working at one of these companies. However, if you are just starting out your career in the states and you wanted to work in an international setting, this is one career that you can look into, as financial investors are able to work pretty much anywhere in the world that has a market and typically the local language is not really a prerequisite. I would say your best fields of study that will allow you to work in most major cities in the world are Finance, IT, and Sales.
The Typical Industries in Tokyo Catering to Non-Native Japanese Speakers
So I have stated several times that most of the non-Japanese speaking jobs are located in Tokyo, but what are these industries? You can think of Tokyo being the central hub for the following industries, IT, Consulting, Finance, Design, and well, pretty much everything. Tokyo does it all and is it all. The country has concentrated most of it’s business world in the heart of Tokyo with small business centers located outside of Tokyo in Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, and Yokohama, but Tokyo is really the heart that fuels this island.
Yes, you can get a job in any of the following industries, IT, Consulting, Finance, and Design but you will need to be bringing skills to the table to get these jobs. Otherwise, they will just hire the Japanese guy speaking to the left of you in the interview room, regardless how ridiculously unqualified he/she is. To be honest, most Japanese companies prefer to simply hire Japanese people over foreigners. And on that note, I highly recommend you to work for a foreign investment company or a Japanese company that is very western in their thinking (i.e. Rakuten or Uniqlo).
You will most likely be frustrated day in and day out working for a traditional Japanese company, they just aren’t for us. Japanese have grown up their entire life with Japanese culture and thinking they way they do, and that mirrors the culture in Japanese companies, if you think things are strange or difficult now, do you really want to experience that 8 hours a day Monday to Friday as well? They simply think differently and don’t value their employees in the same way YOU would expect a company to.
I have spoken to many headhunters and recruiters in Tokyo, and they have told me that their clients, Japanese companies, will explicitly tell them that “This job requires a Japanese person”. Not a non-Japanese that is fully bilingual in Japanese, not a person that was born in Japan and went to Japanese school from the age of 4 to 21 and speaks fluent Japanese, but a JAPANESE PERSON. That’s a requirement and not just a request in a candidate search. So once you have fully understood this simple fact, then you can proceed with looking for a job with a Japanese company.
But I would only recommend working for a Japanese company if you wish to have the experience to help you understand how the Japanese think and act so that you can compete with them in a future company. But for a long-term career, I recommend to look towards the foreign investment companies for a job, they will understand your needs and goals better and should result in a overall better quality of life. But whether you are looking for a Japanese company or foreign one in these industries, a conversational level or above in Japanese will most likely be required.
To go back to English teachers briefly, this is their main struggle with getting out of a teaching job in Japan. Most of them have no work experience or any tested skill or trade outside of English teaching and a college diploma (some don’t even have this). But they want to change jobs and have a more rewarding job/career. Most of these English teachers came to Japan immediately after college and haven’t gained any real world work experience, which also hinders them. Usually their limited work experience and lack of a technical or specific skill hinders them from ever leaving the English teaching industry. For those of you reading this before graduating, I highly recommend you get a part time job to gain experience before coming to Japan if you plan to come here via teaching English. This will allow you to have more options and set you apart from your peers.
So given this bit of information, we must focus on getting a job that we will be adding value and be a valuable asset to our employer. Given that you have experience, it is possible to get hired as an Engineer by an IT firm or as a designer by a Design company. But the challenge you will now face is your ability to speak Japanese. This is where having the Japanese ability can make or break getting the job. I can’t express how important it is to speak Japanese, at least at a comfortable conversational level. Business level isn’t really a requirement, as long as you can get through the interview and convince the hiring person that you will be an asset to the company.
You have to think about what your potential employer makes his/her decisions based on. Not all people think like me, but when I am interviewing for my staff I give percentages to categories I have predefined.
These categories depend on the job I am interviewing for, but here is one for example:
1. Customer Service skill/ability
2. IT knowledge
3. Japanese language ability
4. Eagerness to advance and grow
5. Initiative and ability to handle tasks with little to no supervision.
Now, for a staff that will take on an engineer role 100% of the time, I would be most concerned with his IT knowledge, ability to handle tasks with little to no supervision, and then his Japanese language ability. However, if I have two candidates I am interviewing and one of them has a much better speaking ability in Japanese but a little behind in the technical skill than the other candidate I would probably go with the less skilled technical person. The reason being, he should be able to easily and quickly pick up the IT skills he is lacking and at the same time be able to use Japanese with his clients and make them feel more relaxed and comfortable.
Remember, it’s always about making the other person happy and comfortable, number one rule to customer service. A good engineer can make a mistake but since he cannot explain himself in Japanese, the customer is left upset and feeling he/she has received bad service. Whereas, a less experienced engineer can screw up several times on very basic things but because he can speak Japanese, apologize and make the customer feel cared for, the customer walks away feeling confident that the engineer thoroughly cares about them and he/she is trying his/her hardest. And in Japan, customer service and the amount of effort you give is 10x more important than the actual ability of the person to do the job.
So in conclusion, yes, you can in fact get a job here in Japan without speaking Japanese, but if you’re looking for a job that you can enjoy and grow with career-wise, you will want to invest in a Japanese language book if you have not already done so. Start reading, studying, and interacting with the local Japanese, you will only benefit from doing this and enjoy your Japanese experience only that much more.
Good luck on your career and job search! All the best! Ganbatte kudasai!
Written by Josh R Bellendir, Consultant
For more articles, stories, tutorials, and reviews like these, please check out http://www.jbellendir.com.
About the Author
Come on! Just hard is it to learn Portuguese anyway?
Good Question! Many people tell me how much they would love to learn Portuguese but they keep hearing how darn and downright difficult it is. Well the truth be told learning Portuguese is no more or less difficult than learning any other language in fact much easier than Chinese or Arabic because Portuguese uses Latin characters just like English does.
In order to make things easier for you let me give you a little background in Portuguese and some tips in learning another language. Portuguese is a member of the Romance family of languages which includes it’s more famous cousin French (which for many English speakers is the first foreign language they attempt to learn at school) and it`s very close cousin Spanish.
Others relatives include Italian and Romanian (yes really!)- They are all descended from Pig Latin which is a rather impolite way of saying from the common Latin spoken by Roman soldiers who usually occupied the country in ancient times.
So I hear you ask how does make it easier for me to learn Portuguese?
Be patient as I am getting to that. If you already have Spanish or Italian as a second language then learning Portuguese is going to be a breeze for you. Portugal and Spain are neighbours on the Iberian Peninsula so if you can speak one language then you more or less understand the other. Don’t make the mistake the Brazilians do and think just because you speak Portuguese you can automatically speak Spanish or vice versa, no you will still need a few months to learn it, but only a few months and not certainly not much longer.
How hard is it for to learn Portuguese for English speakers if you do not speak any other Romance languages? That depends on how motivated you are, how good your teachers are, your reasons for learning the language and also how much contact you have with the language.
The fastest way to learn a language is to live in a country where it is spoken. For Portuguese that is Brazil, Portugal, Angola or any of the other Portuguese speaking countries of Africa. If you have the time then spending a month in a home stay in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and studying Portuguese during the day need not be so expensive.
If that is not an option for you then you can study online with native speakers who are trained teachers. This combined with carefully chosen course material will make it much easier for you to learn Portuguese and at a much faster rate.
Please contact http://portuguesephrases.net/ for further information.
About the Author
Carlos Spencer has worked as a beauty photographer for a number of years in the fashion industry. He has a lot of experience in working with top make up artists which is where he gets his tips on skin care. He currently live in Brazil.
is math required if i’m planning to become a history teacher?
i’m not exactly the brightest when it comes to math. however besides from math, my other grades are pretty decent. for grade 12…i took 3 english (writer’s craft, literature study, grade 12 english) , a history course, gym, economics and world politics. i’m not planning to take advance functions…is this a bad decision? will this stop me from reaching my goal as a history teacher?
History teachers don’t need anything past addition and subtraction, you will be fine.
I would suggest taking calculus at least just to see what it is though.
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University Of Wollongong: An Epitome Of Educational Excellence
University of Wollongong (UOW) has forged a distinctive identity among Australian and international universities, standing apart from sector categories. An enterprising institution with a personalized style, UOW is confidently building an international reputation for quality research and education. The University was founded in 1951 when a Division of the then New South Wales University of Technology was established in Wollongong. After ten years this division was known as Wollongong University College.
In 1975, the University of Wollongong was incorporated by the New South Wales Parliament as an independent institution of higher learning. In 1982, the University amalgamated with the Wollongong Institute of Education, which, in 1962, had originated as the Wollongong Teachers’ College. The merger formed the basis of the contemporary university.
It is a University of international standing with an enviable record of achievement in teaching and research. It is also located in one of the most beautiful settings in Australia, just an hour’s drive south of Australia’s largest city, Sydney.
In 1993, UOW opened what was to become the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) in the United Arab Emirates. Initially called the Institute of Australian Studies (IAS), this centre made UOW the first foreign university to open a campus in the UAE, and the first Australian tertiary institution represented in the Persian Gulf. IAS initially offered English language programs, before becoming a ‘feeder college’ by 1995, where students completed part of a degree in Business or IT in Dubai before coming to Australia to complete their studies. You will find a number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, research programs, student services, educational policies and practice, our strategic plan, corporate partnerships and UOW campuses in Wollongong, the South Coast, and Southern Highlands and in Sydney and Dubai.
IDP Education Pty Ltd (IDP) is a global company offering student placement and English language testing services. It places students into all sectors of the Australian education system and including higher education institutes including university of Wollongong vocational education and training (VET), English language intensive courses for overseas students (ELICOS) and schools.
About the Author
Good & useful resources for learning Mandarin Chinese?
I’m interested in learning Mandarin Chinese. I don’t think I have time for a class/tutor, though. Other than those, what other options are there to learn Chinese? (Such as CDs, CD-ROM software, books, etc.)
If you’ve taken a class or have had a tutor, you can comment on what you think as well.
Chinese is considered a hard-to-learn language and it is best to hbe in an actual class with an actual teacher. It takes alot to learn Chinese and just CD-ROM won’t get you far enough for you to speak and write at an elementary school kid’s level. I’ve been attending Chinese Saturday class’s since preschool and now I am still taking class’s for highschool level. You may want to find a friend that speaks and write Chinese fluently to help you if you really are going to depend on CD-ROM.
Official windows XP sp2 ENGLISH wanted!?
I will NOT go for vista for another 5 years at least. I have Window XP english, but the CD is now unreadable. I also have win XP in Portuguese… but my Portuguese is not that good in technical terms!
Can someone tell me WHERE I can buy an OFFICIAL copy of win XP sp 2 in english? (They are no more in the shops!)
I am buying a new laptop, and it comes, of course, with Vista…
Computer stores in YOUR country, maybe, but not here, in the Portugal Algarve!
I still sell XP home & pro in SP2, oem or retail.
Email me, I’ll post you a copy of whichever OS you want.
Study Overseas Canada – Useful Information
Canada, the second largest country in the world, is both a geographically vast and an ethnically diverse country in which to study. Canada’ natural environment offers many recreational opportunities as well as a high standard of living in cosmopolitan and multicultural cities. Canadians are known for being a peaceful and friendly people. They also are inhabitants of a multicultural and bilingual country which welcomes students from all religions and nationalities. Thousands of students opt to study overseas in Canada every year and even more come to Canada to learn English or French bring a rich culture to the Canadian classrooms. The large urban centres of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are particularly well-known for their multicultural way of life. This rich cultural variety can be seen in the many languages spoken on the street, or the cuisines served through open restaurant windows or many cultural celebrations throughout the year.
University/College – Decision Making
To decide which institution to apply to and to ascertain your eligibility, one should contact the college or university directly or better still ask an expert study overseas Canada counselor for seeking advice on the same. The study overseas Canada counselor will be able to guide you on the basis of your academic record, extra curricular activities, your performance in various tests like the GRE, TOEFL, your financial background etc. Once you have chosen a place to study you will need to apply to that school, college or university.
Every school has different requirements to apply. Make sure you apply early for your chosen course of study. Do keep certain things in mind before applying for them ie the cost of application, tuition fees, health insurance, rent/living cost and various entrance tests. Moreover, the government of Canada does not pay for the medical costs of foreign students, so you will need to take that into consideration. Once the student receives his/her letter of acceptance from the educational institution, he/she will need to apply for the student permit. The time needed to process an application to study overseas in Canada may be different at various visa offices. One does not need a study permit if you plan to take a course or programme in Canada that lasts six months or less. You must complete the course or programme within the period authorised for your stay in Canada.
If you are considering to study overseas in Canada, here’s what you will need:
– Letter of admission from the chosen institute.
– IELTS/ TOEFL score (generally 6-6.5 bands in IELTS and 70+ score on TOEFL; iBT is considered sufficient).
– Proof of sufficient funds for the whole duration of the course.
The visa fee is Rs 5,080. Cost of studying and living in Canada
Study Overseas in Canada is very affordable when compared to other western countries. The overall cost for an international student to study in Canada depends on the student’s own needs and ‘lifestyle’.
Each university has a different tuition level and each city has different living costs. Generally, though, it is estimated that students from abroad would need between CDN $10,000 to CDN $15,000, depending on their school and course.
About working while studying students studying overseas in canada can work in Canada during their studies, and even after they graduate. In most cases, they will need to apply for one of the student-related work permits, which are required if you want to work in a co-op/internship placement, off campus, or after graduating from your studies (Post-Graduation Work Permit Programme). Ideally, any person who is studying overseas in canada as a full-time student is allowed to work for 20 hours per week on campus when the session is on and full-time during the scheduled breaks, including summer or winter holidays and reading weeks.
So any of the work-permits beyond the on-campus would require certain conditions to be fulfilled by the student ie the study programme requirements and the conditions of both the work permit and study permit. Moreover, such a work permit is generally valid for the same period as the study permit. To qualify for any such permit, the student must already hold a valid study permit, and must have been a full-time student at a participating institution for at least six of the last 12 months before applying.
About the Author
Shailesh Smith is a writer, who have written so many articles about different topics like Study Overseas NewZealand, New Zealand Colleges and Canada Universities, along with great knowlege on different domains like MBA, Education & Teaching, Engineering & Technical and related studies.