Stand out during your application process through networking in Japan
Leverage the power of networking to boost your chances of success in the Japanese job market

The Value of Networking in Japan

In Japan, networking plays a pivotal role in the job search process, as building strong relationships with professionals in your field can significantly improve your chances of securing your desired position. With the Japanese job market becoming increasingly competitive, standing out from the crowd is essential to landing your dream job. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the importance of networking in Japan and provide practical strategies to help you leverage the power of connections and make a lasting impression on potential employers.

1. Understanding the Japanese Job Market

Before diving into networking strategies, it’s crucial to understand the unique aspects of the Japanese job market. Some key points to consider are:

● A high premium on loyalty and long-term commitment to one company: In Japan, it is common for employees to remain with a single company throughout their entire career. This tradition, called “shushin koyo” (終身雇用 – lifetime employment), has been changing in recent years but still influences the way companies value and invest in their employees.

● The importance of the “shokumukeireki” (職務経歴) – employment history) in job applications: Japanese employers place great importance on an applicant’s employment history. This history, which includes details about your past roles, accomplishments, and promotions, helps potential employers understand your experience and evaluate your potential fit within their organization.

● The significance of traditional values, such as respect, harmony, and modesty, in Japanese corporate culture: Japanese work culture is rooted in traditional values like group harmony, respect for authority, and humility. Demonstrating these qualities during networking events and interviews can help you make a positive impression on potential employers.

● Job-hunting season and recruitment practices: Japanese companies typically have a specific job-hunting season for new graduates, which runs from March to April. During this period, companies hold recruitment events and interviews to select their new hires. Understanding the timeline and practices associated with this process can help you plan your job search more effectively.

● The role of “keiretsu” (系列 – corporate groups) in the Japanese job market: Many Japanese companies are part of “keiretsu,” or interconnected corporate groups. These groups often share resources, employees, and business opportunities, which can provide additional networking opportunities for job seekers.

2. Building Your Network in Japan

Once you’ve grasped the fundamentals of the Japanese job market, the next step is to create and expand your professional network. Here are various avenues for making connections and forming meaningful relationships within the Japanese business landscape:

Attend Industry Events and Seminars

● Seek out events relevant to your target industry

● Join seminars and conferences to meet like-minded professionals

● Volunteer to speak or present at events to showcase your expertise


Join Networking Groups and Associations

● Participate in industry-specific groups (e.g., JAMA for automotive professionals) [5]

● Explore expat networking organizations (e.g., FEW Japan, JET Alumni Association)


Utilize Social Media Platforms

● Use LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your target industry

● Follow and engage with industry influencers on Twitter

● Join relevant Facebook groups and participate in discussions


Tap into University Alumni Networks

● Attend alumni events and reunions

● Connect with alumni on social media platforms

● Utilize your university’s career services for networking opportunities

3. Navigating the Cultural Landscape of Networking in Japan

It is no less essential to understand the cultural nuances and social etiquette that govern networking in Japan. These are some of the main nuances of Japanese business interactions and guidance that will help you excel in networking activities.

Master the Japanese Business Card Exchange

● Bring plenty of “meishi” (名刺 – business cards) to networking events

● Present and receive cards with both hands and a slight bow

● Treat the cards with respect and avoid writing on them

Adopt a Humble and Respectful Attitude

● Show genuine interest in others by asking open-ended questions

● Listen attentively and maintain eye contact

● Avoid dominating the conversation or excessively promoting your achievements


Learn Basic Japanese Etiquette

● Bow when greeting and departing from others

● Use polite language and honorifics when addressing others

● Refrain from interrupting or contradicting others in conversation


Dress for Success

● Dress conservatively and professionally for networking events

● Opt for dark-colored suits and minimal accessories

● Ensure your appearance is neat and well-groomed

4. Unlocking the Potential of Personal Connections in Japan

As you become more adept at networking in Japan, it’s important to recognize the impact of personal connections and how they can set you apart from other job seekers.

1. The Role of “Nemawashi” (Informal Consensus-Building)

“Nemawashi” plays a crucial role in building trust, rapport, and strong relationships within the Japanese business culture. By engaging in informal discussions and consultations, you can demonstrate respect for others’ opinions, gather valuable insights, and establish a foundation for collaboration. This process helps create a more harmonious professional environment and strengthens connections, which can be beneficial for job seekers and professionals looking to expand their network in Japan.

Therefore make sure to:

● Engage in informal conversations with potential employers before submitting an application

● Ask for advice and feedback to demonstrate your willingness to learn

2. Utilize the “Gaijin Card” to Your Advantage

Did you realize that you might have advantage because you are not Japanese? This advantage, so-called “Gaijin Card,” stems from the curiosity, interest, and value that some Japanese people may place on the unique perspectives, skills, and experiences that foreigners bring to the table.

By embracing your unique background, you can offer fresh perspectives and ideas that can be appealing to potential employers and professional contacts. It can also serve as a conversation starter, helping you to build rapport and forge connections with others in the Japanese business community.

How do you play it?

● Emphasize your unique skills and experiences as a foreign job seeker [9]

● Demonstrate your adaptability and willingness to integrate into Japanese corporate culture

3. Focus on Relationship Building

In Japanese business culture, relationship building is paramount. Focusing on cultivating genuine connections can lead to greater trust and mutual respect, opening doors to valuable opportunities. Consider the following tips when seeking to strengthen your professional relationships in Japan:

● Foster long-term connections rather than seeking immediate job opportunities

● Keep in touch with your network

● Regularly update your contacts on your professional progress and achievements

5. Leveraging Networking Opportunities for Job Applications

Now that you have built a substantial network and delved into the depths of Japanese business culture, it’s time to utilize your connections to support your job application process. Here is pragmatic advice on how to make the most of your network and improve your chances of landing your dream job.

Seek Referrals and Recommendations

● Request introductions to potential employers from your network

● Ask for personal recommendations to strengthen your application

Gain Insider Information

● Use your network to gather information on job openings and company culture

● Gain insights into the hiring process and preferences of potential employers


Showcase Your Soft Skills

● Demonstrate your communication, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities during networking events

● Highlight your adaptability and willingness to learn from others


Personal Branding and Following Up

● While not the primary focus, personal branding is still essential in showcasing your value to potential employers (Find out more about it in our Personal Branding Tips to Stand Out During the Application Process )

● Maintain a consistent and professional online presence

● Follow up with contacts after networking events to solidify relationships and express gratitude


 Networking is a powerful tool that can significantly increase your chances of success in the Japanese job market. By understanding the unique aspects of Japanese corporate culture and employing the strategies outlined in this guide, you can build a strong network of professional connections and stand out during your application process. Remember, investing time and effort in networking will not only benefit your job search but also your long-term career growth in Japan.


Good luck with your networking in Japan!