Tuesday, December 23, 2014

履歴書 – Japanese Résumés


Japanese résumés, unlike American résumés (and I assume other Western
résumés), follow a rigid format. They sell special résumé paper here
that is gridded into different categories. Applicants fill them out by
hand in their prettiest handwriting and stick on a photograph of

If you have confidence in your kanji skills and a ton of free time, you
might consider filling yours out by hand – that would have to be really
impressive to anyone looking to hire. I myself couldn’t be asked, so I
created a résumé in Word using tables. It covers all of the basic
categories and was relatively easy to edit. I’ve edited it into a mock
résumé for Lupin III and uploaded it
Feel free to download it and adapt it for your own uses. I originally
created the file in Word but have been editing it in Open Office, so I
apologize if the formatting is a little finicky. If it comes in handy
for you, send me your success story.

A couple of interesting differences with an American résumé:

- Japanese use photos on their résumés. You will go far if you are tall, dark, and handsome with striking sideburns.

- Japanese put their date of birth, age and sex on résumés. Too many X chromosomes, and you may be serving tea.

- A lot of people list their hometown and parents. I was encouraged to
do this by a teacher I was working with. This could be especially
effective for foreigners because katakana may help with the
pronunciation of difficult city names.

- There is a lot of what they call 自己PR (literally “self public
relations”) that goes on with résumés and also job hunting in general.
It reminds me of the pep rallies at the junior high school where I
taught. The teams lined up individually and the kids had to give a
self-introduction. They go down the line one by one and say a little
sentence about themselves: “Hello, I’m Taisuke in the second year. I
will do my best at the tournament and run as fast as possible.” The kids
all vary their statements slightly (“I will give my best effort.” “I
won’t ever give up.” etc.), and I always felt bad for the last guy
because all the good words had been taken! 自己PR is kind of like this,
but you have to say what your strong points are. I always felt like it
was a load of crap. To give you an idea, here’s what I use on my actual
Basically I have a short attention span and am good at extemporaneous
bullshitting. And remember, those words are
mine – you’re next in line, so get your own!

- While the document is two pages, Japanese résumés are double-sided, so
this is actually a one-page résumé. Always print them on one page.


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