The Ultimate Guide to Japanese Resumes

By Norie Matsumoto | April 22, 2021

If you are wanting to live in Japan, an important step is to find a job. There are actually two prime seasons for hiring in Japan, which are at the beginning of spring and the end of summer, however, you can always get a head start on your Japanese resume. The job-hunting process in Japan can be quite a complex and challenging process, especially if Japanese is not your native language, and navigating the work environments can be pretty stressful and confusing. But in this article, you will learn all you need to find the perfect job for you by starting at the most important first step of applying for jobs, resumes. 

Japanese resumes in Japan are pretty different compared to other countries and there are different rules that you must follow.  You may not know what education history, work experience, credentials, qualifications, certificates, personality, or other information to highlight which are needed to get noticed by companies in Japan. Learn all you need to know about the types of resumes, the resume-making process, and important know-how on creating a great resume curated for what kind of company and work you are looking for. Learn the intricacies of traditional Japanese job hunting, including resume making in the Japanese style. This article will have a copy and paste or downloadable template and a guide on what to write and how to write it so you can get hired. Some sections of the resume and CV can become repetitive but every section should be filled and not left blank unless stated otherwise. 

This is part of our extensive series on getting a job in Japan as a foreigner Ultimate Guide to Jobs in Japan for Foreigners

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    How Japanese resumes differ from Western resumes or resumes in English

    Chances are, as a reader you are familiar with western style resume writing and may have made one for yourself before. However, using the same structure as the ones used in say the United States or Europe is not going to work in Japan at a Japanese domestic company. Even if you were to apply for a gaishike or foreign-owned enterprise, chances are you are still going to need both an Western style and Japanese style resume as there are other higher ups within the company that may not be well versed in English and require Japanese to read. Also, it is expected that the Japanese resume is not just a translation of your english one. It must follow a pretty unyielding format.  

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    Handwritten - Possibly the most noticeable difference upfront is that many Japanese companies would prefer that you create a handwritten resume instead of just typed and printed. Writing each resume by hand is something underheard of in the western world, especially when you are most likely applying to a bunch of companies at a time. You can already imagine the hand cramping. This also means that you should be confident in writing in Kanji or willing to look it up.

    But luckily, these days, most of the companies accept typed up resumes. Yet, handwritten shows your dedication and hardwork. It is recommended you first write lightly in pencil in case you make a mistake and finalize by writing in black pen. Avoid white out as it looks messy. You can buy empty resume forms at the conbini (convenience stores) for around ¥20 per sheet or you can get a free template here,

    Download 3 Japanese Resume & CV Templates that you can use to apply for your next job!

    Downloadable CV Templates for Rirekisho and Shokumukeirekisho

    If you make a mistake, you have to restart with a new sheet. Make sure to buy or print extras for when you might need to use another more.

     

    japan resume rirekisho

    Time for a headshot - In Western countries, it is not a requirement to put your face on your resume. There is actually much debate on whether or not there even should be one on it, in the U.S. employers actually can not ask for photos as there is a possibility that applicants can be judged more on looks and less on work qualifications. However, in the case of Japanese resumes, it is a requirement that you can not neglect. 

    Too much information - In most cases, you would not put personal information on Western Resumes such as, age, sex, commuting time, dependents, and birthdate. On the contrary, in Japan it is a must.

    Free for all - In Western style, you are solely responsible for how your resume looks and the design. Yet, in Japan you are going to need to follow the same style and form as everybody else applying. 

    Signed and sealed You must have an inkan (stamp form of signature) for a Japanese Resume, very official. 

    1 vs 2 - Another difference is that usually, Western resumes only need one page, on the other hand Japanese CVs want you to have two, the Rirekisho and Shokumukeirekisho. 

    japan english attire

    Types of Japanese Resumes 

    Now that you are a little bit more familiar with how the Western and Japanese style resume differs, it is time to get into the nitty-gritty. It is time to start making your Japanese resume. As mentioned earlier, the two big sections you need are called the Rirekisho and Shokumukeirekisho. What is that?

    The Japanese Resume: Rirekisho

    Put simply, a Rirekisho is a straight forward rundown of your education and work record. It just presents the fundamental and principal features of yourself such as the companies you have been employed for, how long, graduation year, etc. It is important that it is legible and follows the JIS standard (Japanese Industrial Standards), which is the most frequent type in Japan. There are some businesses that may explicitly ask for a JIS standard. 

    1. Japanese Resume: Personal Information

    Date of submission - At the top, put the date (year / month / day) in which you will submit your resume. Try to keep this one accurate. 

    Full Name - Write your full name where it says 氏名・shimei・しめい. Fill in your name in English or in Katakana. If your name is Chinese or Korean, write it in Kanji. First, put your ‘Last Name’, then a space and enter ‘First Name’. Write your name in Hiragana at the top, where it says ふりがな・furigana.

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    Photo - This is almost as important as the whole rest of the resume. Stick a professional photo of yourself to the top right corner of your resume. The photo should look presentable with the face fully lit and viewable. 

    • Solid background (white or blue is common) 
    • No hair obstructing face (tie long hair back)
    • No glasses
    • Steer away from heavy makeup (colorful eyeshadow, unnatural lipstick, etc.)
    • Wear a business suit (what you would wear to an interview)
    • Solid eye contact to the camera 
    • Conservatism is important 
    • Try not to grin from ear to ear with your teeth showing, just a slight, closed mouth smile.
    • No facial hair
    • No hats
    • Chest up
    • Styled hair (no bedheads!)
    • No crazy accessories (earrings, necklace, etc.)
    • 3cm width x 4cm height
    • taken in the last 3 months (recommended, try not to catfish your employer)
    • in color, with nothing else in the image

    To take the photos, look for photo booths that are along the streets of business areas or near big train stations. It usually fits the criteria stated above and the cheapest option at around 600 yen to 800 yen. Additionally, it is very quick and easy, it can be done in minutes. 

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    Your Nationality

    Where you are from. Put your country of origin (nationality) where it says 国籍・kokuseki・こくせき. 

    Date of Birth and Age

    The section where it says 生年月日(年齢)・seinengappi (nenrei)・せいねんがっぴ(ねんれい), write your birthday. 

    It should be written as (Year) 年/ (Month) 月/(Day)日生.

    Then 満(your current age)歳 

    Example: 1999年1月1日生(満22歳)

    Gender

    Circle male (男) or female (女) where it says 性別 ・seibetsu

    Present Address

    Write your current address where it says 現住所・Genjūsho・げんじゅうしょ.

    Phone Number

    Where it says, 電話 ・denwa・でんわ, write your phone number so that the employer can contact you. 

    Email Address

    Write your contact email where it says メールアドレス 

    *You should have an email that is professional, typically just your name with numbers if necessary, not a middle school joke address like crazygamerchucky88

    Additional Contact Info

    Unless you want to put extra contact information other than what was written before,  just write 同上・ dōjo・どうじょう,  which means same as above meaning it is the same as what was written earlier.

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    2. Japanese Resume: Academic and Work History

    Academic History 

    Write your education in chronological order from earliest to latest.

    Start by writing 学歴・gakureki・がくれき in the middle of the first line.

    Next line: Start from High School, write the year of graduation and month.

    Then write enrollment year and month into university, next is the graduation year and month, and so on. 

    Write the official school name, department, and major.

    Work History 

    Make sure to have a one line gap between academic history and work history.

    Write your employment history in chronological order.

    Start by writing 職歴・Shokureki・しょくれき in the middle of the line

    Next lines:

    Start with your first company you worked with.

    Write:

    Year and month you joined, Company’s official name, Department and position

    Next line: Year and month you left the company and reasons for that

    3. Japanese Resume: License and Qualifications

    In the next section, where it says 免許・資格・Menkyo・shikaku・めんきょ・しかく write any licenses or qualifications that pertains to the company and position you are applying for along with the year and month you obtained it.

    4. Japanese Resume: Special Skills, Self Promotion

    Where it says 特技・自己 or Tokugi・Jiko・とくぎ・じこ This is where you can sell yourself, write your skills that at least somewhat relates to the job or would aid in you being better at the job. The Self PR section can convince the employer why you would be good for the job (draw from previous experiences, etc.)

    5. Japanese Resume: Transportation time

    Write the commute time from home to work unless you do not have a Japan address yet. This is relevant because 86 percent of Japanese companies pay for employees' commuting allowance.  They also want to get a grasp of where you are coming from and may prefer someone living closer to the work location. 


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    6. Japanese Resume: Miscellaneous Information

    Dependents

    In the section 扶養家族(配偶者を除く)Fuyō kazoku (haigūsha o nozoku) ふようかぞく(はいぐうしゃをのぞく the Dependents (not including spouse) section, write how many dependents (someone you support: You give at least half of their total support for the year: clothing, food, and shelter etc.) you have not including spouse. Example: your kids (unless they are making their own income).

    Spouse and Spouse’s Obligation to Support

    配偶者・Haigusha はいぐしゃ section, if you are married with a spouse, check “Yes (有)”. But if you are not married with no spouse, check “No (無)”.

    配偶者の扶養義務・Haigūsha no fuyō gimu はいぐしゃのふようぎむ section, If your spouse is working and he or she is already working for a company that has social insurance, check “No (無)” unless your spouse needs social insurance, in which case check yes. 

    7. Japanese Resume: Space for Personal Request

    This section, 本人希望記入欄・Hon'nin kibō kinyū ran・ほんにんきぼうきにゅうらん

    Write any specific requests (work location, salary, etc.)

    But most people write 貴社規定に従います・Kisha kitei ni shitagaimasu・きしゃきていにしたがいます or I will comply with your company regulations.”

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    Do Japanese resumes need an accompanying CV?  

    Yes - now that you know the first part of a resume, the Rirekisho it is time for the next part. 

    The Shokumukeirekisho is the CV (Curriculum Vitae), a form that connects to past work experience (companies where you were employed, about the job, skills you acquired, etc.)

    1. Date of Submission and Full name

    First, write your full name and the day you will be submitting it in the upper right corner. 

    *It should be the same as your rirekisho

    2. Summary of employment history/work

    Here, write your past employment history. Unlike the resume, Rirekisho, put down all the companies you have been employed at in order of newest in order instead of oldest, then write the dates you were employed and the company’s name.

    5. Summary of Experience and Knowledge

    Area of Experience, Expertise, or Skill. You want to write down what kind of skills or experience you got from your previous companies. If you have any technical skills. Any leadership or management experience? Achievements?

    6. Professional/Work Background and Experience 

    First, write in the detailed information of each of the companies you have worked at. Things such as the background of the company, the size of the business, how many employees, employment period, and what kind of work you did. Order it as earlier by the last company you were enrolled in first and the first company you worked at will be last. 

    Next, write an explanation of what your job was and what kind of activities you did and accomplished while you were there. You should write any projects, works, assignments you did and what you learned from them. Write what kind of assignment it was, how long it took, what you utilized, what was the outcome, and how big it was and your position in it. Unlike western styles, there is more emphasis on explaining about what kind of work and projects you did over the fancy titles.

    7. Skills (Technical)

    This is if it applies to your area of work, here, you should write what capabilities you have and expertise that are pragmatic and related to scientific, mathematical, mechanical, or IT (information technology) skills.

    8. Certifications/Licenses

    Now you should write any licenses or certifications that would be good for the company. If you are reading this article, you probably know English, for Japanese resumes, language significance is emphasized so it would be good to put your TOEIC or other language abilities as this is sought after! 

    Examples would be language, Information Technology, etc. licenses/certificates.

    9. Summary about yourself 

    This may be repetitive as you already wrote it in the rirekisho but it still needs to be done. But again, put down information about your experiences, qualifications, skills that would benefit the company. Why you would be an asset to the company. Compared to the western style, it is recommended to not put recreational activities and instead keep it to strictly business related information.

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    Mistakes you should avoid making on your Japanese resume

    It can be easy to make simple mistakes and you do not want to make careless mistakes that result in you not getting an interview even though you are qualified! Watch out for these common slip-ups:

    • Typos and Grammatical Errors - These are small but noticeable mistakes that make your resume look sloppy and like you did not put time and effort into it. Make sure to double and triple check through your resume.
    • Different set of eyes - If you have been working on your resume for a while, it will be harder and harder for you to really see what it would be like from an outside perspective so have someone else, preferably that knows Japanese and about the resumes to have a look over yours to tell you if there is anything you should fix.
    • Too long or Too short - Try not to go on long tangents in your resume and keep it to a minimum or the most important parts that are relevant to your work. No more than 3 pages or you will lose their interest. On the same note, do not forget to add in something that would be crucial to your job experience and only write a little bit as it will seem like you did not do much.
    • Avoid writing in Hiragana only - this may be obvious but it is important to write like you really do know Japanese, implement kanji to keep a professional appearance, and look them up if you do not know. There are lots of words that sound exactly the same but have different kanjis for different meanings so do not forget to check you are using the right ones. 

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    • Write respectfully - When writing, especially in the sections where you write paragraphs such as Self PR don't forget to use the formal language of Japanese です、ます・desu・masu and not like you are just talking to a friend. 
    • Personalize - Customize each of your applications to accommodate each company. This means you should know about the company and the role you are applying for, it will show that you are dedicated and seem loyal to the company. It just takes a quick google search and set an hour or two for each company. Find out about their history, CEO, what kind of work environment they have, and other roles they have.
    • No need to be fancy - For western resumes, you can get pretty creative with your resume to stand out from the competition, however, you do not want to be putting crazy designs and colors on your Japanese resume, it will not be taken seriously with glitter borders and strange fonts. 

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    Useful words you need to know for your Japanese resume

    When writing your resume, it is important to know some of the basic words that you should become familiar with and you will see throughout. Avoid going in blindly, you should know some Japanese words to be able to recognize them.These are useful nouns, verbs, and characteristics. Here are some you can also apply to your resume:

    Kanji

    Romaji

    Hiragana

    English

    長所

    chousho

    ちょうしょ

    strength/advantages

    短所

    tansho

    たんしょ

    weakness/disadvantages

    努力家

    doryokuka

    どりょくか 

    hardworking person

    健康状態

    kenkou joutai

    けんこうじょうたい

    health condition

    志望動機

    shibou douki

    しぼうどうき

    reason for application

    貴社

    kisha

    きしゃ

    your company 

    他社

    tasha

    たしゃ

    other company(s)

    業界

    gyoukai

    ぎょうかい

    industry

    職種

    shokushu

    しょくしゅ

    profession

    分野

    bunya

    ぶんや

    field

    知識

    chishiki

    ちしき

    knowledge

    能力

    nouryoku

    のうりょく

    ability

    行動力 

    koudou ryoku

    こうどうりょく

    ability to take action

    計画性

    keikakusei

    けいかくせい

    planning ability

    就職活動

    shushoku katsudo

    しゅうしょくかつどう

    job hunting

    If you want to learn some more, check out Business Japanese Vocabulary for your Resume

    Conclusion

    This may have been a lot of information to take in and apply to your own resume, but that you have learned about the different types of Japanese resumes,  Rirekisho and Shokumukeirekisho, you have created a great resume with the right components to apply for the companies and show your best self to your employer. Keep on applying to a lot of different companies, hopefully you will be able to find a place to work that is best fit for you. To find out more about getting a job and working in Japan, check out our website BFF Tokyo. Good luck on your shushoku katsudo!

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