The Uninvited Guest - Part One

The Uninvited Guest - Part One

You've been in Japan for a little while and you realize that getting
a decent job isn't going to be easy. Maybe you are teaching English
part time or working in a bar to make ends meet - but how do you
get to the next step? Especially if you're outside Tokyo and don't
know anyone? Well, this is when it comes time for you to get
creative - you need to create an "uninvited guest" strategy, look for
several target firms and find ways to create a position for

Let's look at how to get in to a Japanese company uninvited. First
of all, you need to remember that almost all unplanned recruiting
in Japan is done through personal relationships. In smaller
companies you have to somehow target the CEO and hope he/she
takes a shine to you, while in larger companies you need to target
business managers and engineers - NOT the HR people - who
generally only follow orders and are not interested in making
unplanned hires. In all cases, if you are trying to crack open the
bamboo curtain....., you need research and patience.

Focus your initial efforts on finding target companies that could
actually justify bringing in a foreigner. In this current economy,
although slowly recovering, you need to find a point of value.
Hopefully you have some prior skill set, either language, work
experience, or personal network, so you should start there. Pick a
group of 20-30 local firms to study. If they're larger firms, go look
at their web sites, review quarterly and annual reports (most
larger firms have English-language materials), watch the news,
and talk to your friends/new family. What you are looking for is
some new piece of business that may match your skill set. Once you
find something that looks appropriate, you're ready to look for a
way in.

For larger companies, find a business or technology manager with
an international need - and who, after getting to know you, will be
willing to put your name up for a project team inside the company.
Getting a "sponsor" who is well placed and above the "hamster
wheel" divisions of the company is key to your successful uninvited
landing. While the project may only be temporary, once you're in,
you have a chance to consolidate your position and find out what
else needs doing. In large companies, there is always something for
the enterprising soul to do - especially since many others are
trying to do as little as possible!

The way to meet these initial sponsors/managers is to attend
international symposia and forums (you can find out which, by
going to the JETRO web site and looking at trade fairs). Move
around the room and try to find companies doing stuff that you are
interested in and can help with.

One tip about how to get into the more expensive forums - which
are often the best and have the best quality audiences - is to
become an unpaid freelance reporter for your favorite overseas
industry website or magazine. I don't know many editors who will
say "no" to unique but relevant and free editorial! Ask the editor for
a name card and credentials appointing you as a journalist for the
publication (and you will need copies of the publication every
month). Armed with this documentation, you will gain access to
most events you want to attend. Indeed, you will be treated with
special care, giving you access to not only the fellow audience
members, but probably the key note speakers as well! Do you need
guts to execute such a brazen strategy? Absolutely, but remember,
no one else in Japan, apart from your spouse or partner, has any
reason to help you out - so you have to rely on your own efforts.

If you've found your manager, but they hesitate to bring you in to
the company, take advantage of your relationship to meet them at
least once a month (stay on their radar screen). At the meetings,
try to help them do their job better by making suggestions about
how to improve their success in foreign-related issues. I have a
friend who cultivated a board member of a TSE 1 listed company
for about 18 months, before he was finally offered a chance to get
in on a project. His input to the board member allowed that person
to make major political gains in the company and put him next to
the CEO in terms of popularity. This approach is slow and laborious,
but in the country of personal relationships, it works.

Terrie Lloyd is the founder of DaiJob, Inc. He also writes a weekly
newsletter for entrepreneurs and business people about business
and political opportunities in Japan. You can find the newsletter at
For further contact with Terrie, email him at