Finding Jobs Outside Tokyo

Finding Jobs Outside Tokyo

If you're outside Tokyo, hearing of all the job opportunities available for foreigners here in the capital must be a bit frustrating. Today we have a question from a reader in Shizuoka lamenting the lack of choice in other prefectures.

VF: I'd like to ask for your help in finding an IT job here in Shizuoka-ken. I am Brazilian, have been living in Japan since 1990, speak reasonable Japanese and can read/write about 1,000 Kanji. I have done programming for Japanese companies and have used Japanese OSs, although I prefer to program in English. Can DaiJob help me out down here?

TL's response: DaiJob was created to help people find bilingual jobs. Mainly we focus on foreign companies, because they're the ones that most need bilinguals, and mostly these companies are concentrated here in Tokyo, with a smattering in Osaka, Kobe, and Nagoya. The fact is that if you live outside these areas, your ability to get a job in a foreign company, and thus a job in which you can work in English is EXTREMELY limited.

This is really a simple fact of life - there are virtually no gaishikei jobs outside of the main centers, with a few exceptions such as factories and leisure properties (hotels, amusement parks, etc.). Therefore, if you decide to settle down with a Japanese loved one in their hometown, you are probably going to have to either become an English teacher, an employee in your father-in-law's company, an employee in a traditional Japanese company, or go out and do something on your own.

Of these choices, let's consider two. First, getting a job with a traditional Japanese company. Outside the main cities, my advice is to target smaller companies that are likely to be more flexible and needy about bringing on foreign employees. In the case of VF above, my advice would be for him to start calling all the software development companies in his area, and at least try to get an appointment with each one. I find that Japanese CEOs are tough to get in to see, but once you're in they quickly show interest and are willing to open up one more seat to let you show your stuff. What you'll be doing is not job finding, but rather job creating. Leveraging newly found human relationships works, it just takes time and perseverance - don't be put off by the first couple of rejections.

The second choice is to go out on your own. It's still a tight economy right now, but developers are always in demand, especially if you can under-price your competitors. The path here is clear - again, contact all those software companies (for the second time? This time they'll remember you!), and ask them if they will contract any development work to you. If you make your price absurdly low to begin with, they won't be able to resist at least giving you a try out. Once you show what you can do, gain their confidence and get deeper into some of their long-term projects, you can then start negotiating new salary terms. If you've embedded yourself deep enough into their team, you'll get what you want eventually. Also, being in one or more companies as a contractor, you'll start to hear of opportunities going around and sooner or later will find the niche that you've been looking for.

Yes, it's tougher outside Tokyo than in. All I can say is that if staying where you are is that important to you, given that you already uprooted yourself from your own country, putting yourself through the path mentioned above shouldn't be that difficult.

As always, my contact details are simply: terrie.lloyd@daijob.com. Looking forward to getting some enquiries...

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