The Truth About Working at Japanese Companies (Part III)

The Truth About Working at Japanese Companies (Part III)

How should you handle working in a Japanese company, or applying for a job in one? Well, our friends have sound advice for those starting their journey in the corporate world of the Japanese! Read on for rare insider tips, straight from the horse’s mouth…

If you haven’t already, check out the first and second part of this interview series for more important tips on what to expect in the Japanese working world!

Our wonderful interviewees: (Read more about them in Part 1 and Part 2!)

Tomomi at Raffles Place with her colleagues.

Katheryn after completing a 23km cycling marathon.

Nicodemus feeding rabbits in Ookunoshima, Japan.

Concluding Thoughts…

Qn: Any advice for people planning to start a job in Japanese companies?

Japanese language skills are a big advantage. To work in a Japanese company, an understanding of Japanese culture and business manners are important. When I talk to my boss in Japan, I have to be very polite. I have to speak a particular form of Japanese, otherwise I would be considered disrespectful.

Having better language stills will also help you to develop your career because you can communicate with more people. In Japanese companies, the mentality is to cooperate with each other to reach goals together, and grow as a company as well as an individual. You will have the chance to learn how to work as a team!

So keep on trying to communicate with your colleagues, and build good relationships with them, so that the company performance is not affected. The company looks more at a team’s results, seeing it as more important than an individual’s results.

Also, be prepared for a more stressful working environment in Japan. Most of my friends working in Japan are very stressed!

My Japanese colleagues can be very different from each other. Different companies have different cultures, and individuals have different characters as well.

So, if you are new to a company, you need to make your own judgements and decide how best to assimilate into their culture. You can do this by learning through observation. Take initiative if there’s a need, but try to observe first. You’ll give a good impression if you’re ready to learn.

Ultimately, it really depends on the individual, boiling down to your own situation and approach. Don’t just listen to others’ opinions – make your own observations and objective judgements. To be fair to the people you interact with, you should also consider your own actions, such as your words and body language.

Like everywhere else in the world, the Japanese are a mixed bag. Some are more or less friendly than others, and I think what’s important is to believe in yourself, your peers, and the company. You’ll have nothing to lose but everything to gain if you keep a positive outlook.

In Japanese companies, they are prepared to groom their employees, so you should be receptive to training. Even their education system is geared towards equality and unity, so seek to learn, not to compete.

Knowing their language will definitely help you to fit into the workplace. Just like Singaporeans, most of them are quite reserved at work, and you may experience segregation if you can’t speak or read Japanese. Usually, the Japanese are not very good at English… It’s really important is that you take the initiative to reach out and communicate. If you don’t get to know them better, they won’t be able know you either.

For interviews, prepare a Japanese resume if you can, it helps! You can start by following standard templates. I also consulted my teachers at Bunka, and they were very supportive in giving their opinions and correcting mistakes in my resume.

When discussing your goals in work, you should be customer-oriented. Especially for interviews, the best approach you can take is to express a desire to serve the client. Focus on giving back to society, rather than fulfilling personal goals. Ideally, you should put the client first, and yourself last; Client > Company > Individual.


Missed out on the earlier instalments of this series? Want to know if what you’ve heard are myths or facts? Then don’t miss the inside stories of these employees of Japanese companies in Part I and Part II!