Tutorial: How to write a Japanese resume to land that dream job!

Everyone has their own way of writing their resume. In my country, we usually follow whatever format is taught to us by our schools and universities. I’m sure it differs per country as well, but working in a recruitment company, and going to a ton of resumes a day, I realized that all resumes are the same but is all made differently. They are the same in the sense that we are writing them for one purpose– and that is to get hired by a company. But at the same time, it is also different, perhaps because of a country’s culture and our own personal preferences.

I’ve seen resumes that are all text only, and I’ve seen resumes with tables and graphs. I’ve seen resumes that are more of a profile page, and have seen resumes that are made with timelines. I’ve seen really plain and straightforward ones, and I’ve seen super creative ones.

Truth be told, there not might be a right way to write a resume. But as long as it gets the message across, that should good enough right? Let the experience speak for itself!

Nope. Not in the country that has a right way of doing things for EVERYTHING.
Japan takes their resume (履歴書) writing seriously. Every Japanese who is working or has attempted to look for work in Japan knows this for a fact. It is the only country in the world wherein you can buy printouts of a resume template in your neighborhood convenient store.

So I want to talk about how to properly write a resume. I will cover the first page of a resume for now and update the rest in the following weeks.

Now resumes that new graduates use is slightly different than that of mid-career ones. Since we are a recruiting company that focuses on mid-career recruitment, I’m going to focus on the latter.

Before I proceed to the tutorial, I would want to stress the importance of writing resumes properly. Before a company will agree to meet with you they will look at your resume first and foremost. A resume can say a lot about a person’s personality and it is the first step to getting the attention of a company.

In Japan, there is a ready made template so it’s really hard to get your personality to show in a piece of document. But as foreigners looking for work in Japan, it is the best way to get ahead of those who may be qualified but are submitting their format free non-researched resumes.

SO. On to the tutorial!

The sample above isn’t the exact one that’s being sold on the convenient store, but rest assured, everything you need to know is on here.
① NAME. Best written from your last name. If possible, write it exactly as your residence card/passport. Once you enter a company, they might use it for registering you in different documents.
② Name in Japanese Katakana. This is important ESPECIALLY for foreigners because most Japanese can’t pronounce English names. Taking an effort to learn how to write your name and writing your name in Katakana would be a very respectful thing to do!
③ Date of birth from Year/Date/Day
④ Age
⑤ Gender
⑥ Date today. When updating an old resume, never forget to change the date. Another point to remember is: in Japan, they have a different way of writing dates(西暦&和暦). Of course, you can choose to write it in either one, but always be consistent. If you’re using the Japanese way, stick to it until the end.
⑦ Address. If you aren’t used to writing your address in Japanese, writing it in English letters is fine.
⑧ Address in Furigana
⑨ House number
⑩ Mobile number
⑪ E-mail address

⑫ Photo. If you want to take it to the next level, there are actual services that can help you take the perfect resume photo. Though that’s not really necessary, and this applies to any country, resume photos aren’t Facebook profile pictures. Keep it professional.

Basic information. Easy peasy, right? Here’s where it gets a bit troublesome.

Before I start, the main difference between Japanese resumes and resumes we foreigners are used to write is that when we write resumes, we try to put as much information we can about the company and what we did there. In Japan, that’s done in a completely different form. A resume is used to see the overall history of what a candidate has been doing, meaning, a timeline of sorts.

⑬ 学歴 meaning educational background. You don’t have to write from all the way from preschool. This would be your last 2-3 educational backgrounds.
For example, after I graduated college, I came to Japan to learn English. So I can write from when I graduated high School, then College, then my Japanese language school.
Unless, of course, you graduated from a really well known school and you want to emphasize on that.
⑭ This is where you write your school.
⑮ Beside your school, you will mostly only write one of the 3: Year enrolled(入学), Graduated(卒業) or Completion(修了).
⑯ For university, you can include your degree and
⑰ Your major
⑱ Date & Month of when you Enrolled/Graduated, etc
⑲ After listing everything down, write 以上 like so on the right hand side of the next line to let them know you’re done.
⑳ 職歴 meaning work background. Using the same format as your educational background list, here you will write every company you’ve had experience working at.
㉑ Company name
㉒ Similar to 入学, for work you will use 入社 which is directly translated as entering a company.
㉓ Here you will write the type of contract you have with a certain company. In the sample above, there is 正社員, which is a regular employee, and a 契約社員, which is a contract employee.
㉔ 同社 just means same company as above, so you don’t have to write the entire thing twice.
㉕ This is where you put your reason for leaving. It’s not going to be a long description of what happened and why you left, this is merely to determine whose decision it was.
If the company let you go for their own reasons, you will put 会社都合により退職. If you quit for personal reasons, you will put 自己都合により退職.

㉖ Similar with ⑲, when you’re done, just put 以上on the end of the page.

And that’s basically it for the first page of your resume.
For part 2, click here!