Getting a Teaching Job in Japan (Part 2: More Resume/Intro Tips)

I see a lot of people coming to Japan trying to bask in all the anime, wacky game shows, and bondage. As HR/Recruiting director for a company in Japan I get lot of resumes coming my way. Most of them fail horribly.

It’s my hope that in writing some tips about getting a job here I will a) make the process less difficult (although slightly less hilarious) for me, b) increase the odds of you getting a job here, and c) help your overall skills in writing resumes/interviewing for a job.

(Part 1 can be found here)

So let’s continue with Part 2:

Stupid Email Name = Fail

I know I said we're equal opportunities, but anthropomorpic is a bit beyond what we're looking for..

I know I said we're equal opportunities, but anthropomorphic is a bit beyond what we're looking for..

We’re all adults here in this land of getting jobs, so the other day, when “Bob the Duck” sent me an email, I was confused.

Mr. Duck, sir, am I to assume you’re an anthropomorphic man-duck creature? If so, congratulations, you’ll fit in extremely well in Japan and probably be our most popular employee among our clients. We may even be able to finally land some of those poultry clients. Kawaii!!!

In all seriousness, pick a name/email for your professional life and use it. For my friends, I have a Scandalous@ address. I’m not going to use Scandalous@ to apply anywhere at any point unless I decide to get into politics.

I dunno, something about it just seems to send the wrong message.

This gets even more important in the realm of the modern email clients that tend to name you via your profile info. In the past, I might not notice you were pornqueen69@ until I’d already settled on your resume and liked it, but now I get emails literally from “Bob the Duck.”

Think about it. Would you accept a job from a guy emailing you as “Scandalous McDouchebag?” It probably wouldn’t sound very appealing.

Spelling Name Wrong = Fail

When you spell an Irishman's name wrong, he gets all pissy and angry and starts going on about potatos

When you spell an Irishman's name wrong, he gets all pissy and angry and starts going on about potatoes

I usually spell out my name in the email. I’m sure most job recruiters do this. We want you to be able to contact us via a name. We prefer when you use our actual name.

Let me tell you a story…

My last name is Scanlan. Apparently we were the less successful of the O’Scanal-named people who fled shitty potatoes to come live in America. As such, there aren’t many people with the -an end to their name. There are mostly Scanlons over in America. They’ve been successful enough there that everyone assumes my name is spelled with an -on. This means that throughout my entire life, everything I’ve ever received, from trophies to diplomas to driver’s licences has been spelled wrong.

What a wonderful world Japan has been, where my name is totally alien and new and they’re anal about getting it right, but anyway…

Even though my personal hatred for this is probably beyond the norm, I can only imagine others getting miffed when you blow their name. It’s a personal slight, but you’re not interviewing with robots. You’re dealing with people that also have emotions. You don’t want to piss them off. They sometimes make irrational decisions based on biases. Shitting on their name may not throw them into intense rage, but it’s not a good start and good starts are half the battle.

Also, try and figure out if they’re a man or a woman. It’s not a mistake you have to make. I get a lot of resumes from places where I have no idea if the name is a woman or a man. If they didn’t send a picture, I google image their name and see what turns up. If you see about 75% of the pictures  as one sex, I’d roll the dice on it.

Send a Billion Emails/Giant Attachments = Fail

Sweet Yard Sale, but I can't even find your resume in all this...

Sweet Yard Sale, but I can't even find your resume in all this...

I’m not sure about all companies, but my company prides itself on its technological prowess. We update our teacher files via our iphones, keep in contact via video conferencing, sms each other for drinking opportunities, etc, etc. As such, if you send me a yard sale of multiple emails each containing one file, I’m going to assume you have no idea how to use a computer.

The simple fact is that we now live in the 21st century. A lot of companies are doing things on computers. While this can be taught to (most) anyone, if you’re sending along a package of materials that looks scattered and unprofessional, it can worry a potential employer, especially in Japan, a country that basically exists in the 22nd century (unless you’re banking, then drop back to the 19th century).

If you send a yard sale of files that add up to over a megabyte, most people are not going to DL it all. At my office, we post the resumes to a database and they are often passed among the  recruiting staff. I get things that are 30megs sometimes. This makes in damn near impossible to easily mail around.

Keep it under a meg, it’s not hard. Most companies just need a simple picture, and a resume/CV. The rest can come when they actually like you.

I’ll talk about diploma scans at the end of this section.

We want to see your computer ability, but keep it simple stupid!

Obscure Formats = Fail

Nice format...Let me just haul out my Rosetta Stone

Nice format...Let me just haul out my Rosetta Stone

It’s a sad fact that the entire business world uses Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat. If you’re sending things in .doc or .pdf, kudos to you. Don’t send it in anything else.

In my office, we actually produce a lot of stuff in Pages. At the office, we have Macs, so the program is handy and nice. Still, whenever we share that material with clients, we convert it into .pdf. Why do we do this?

Because no one uses Pages.

I do a lot of work from home on a PC, so Pages even becomes junk for me unless I convert it.

Don’t send things in anything but the most standard forms that everyone can read. I don’t want to see Pages, I don’t want to see .wps, and if you’re sending in .txt I’m going to assume you live in 1993 and have a really cool time machine for warping space and time.

Also, for the record, when using word, make sure you don’t have that wonky word where they tried to re-standardize the format. It saves everything in .docx. No one can read it, it’s career suicide.

No Degree = Fail (In Japan)

If this was not your lifestyle from age 18-22(Ok, 24), Japan doesn't want you!

If this was not your lifestyle from age 18-22(Ok, 24), Japan doesn't want you! (Courtesy of Wes Frazer)

This last one is very Japan-centric, and it’s not something the companies impose. Japanese immigration likes to see smart teachers are coming into their country to teach their people. As such, they usually require a degree to get a Visa. It’s not something we need, it’s something they do.

Please don’t get all angry with me for asking for one. I’m not going to steal it, or burn it, or copy it and sell in Vladivostok. I don’t want it at all, but the powers that be don’t want to give you a Visa unless you have one. Sorry!

That being said, there are highly skilled English teachers in Japan without degrees. It’s possible to come in here on a tourist Visa and work your way into a job, so all hope is not lost. But in general, you will not be pre-approved for a Visa in this line of work from your outside country without that handy little degree…and you’re gonna have to part with it for a bit. They want the actual thing in their hands.

So for me, don’t bother sending pictures of your degree. The Jammigration do that part of the job for me. I trust them to route out you impostors!

(That’s it for the week. Tune in next time where I talk a bit about interview and beyond. I have at least 2 more columns in me)

(Part 1)(Part 3)(Part 4)(Part 5)(Part 6)

9 responses to “Getting a Teaching Job in Japan (Part 2: More Resume/Intro Tips)

  1. As a Wolter whose name has been changed to Walter or Wolters all my life, I can sympathize with this.
    Are you hiring Bob the Duck?

  2. Only if he’s really a duck…otherwise, he’s lying

  3. Pingback: Getting a Teaching Job in Japan (Part 1: Resumes, etc) « Smashed and Sinking!!!

  4. Pingback: Getting a Teaching Job in Japan (Part 3: The Interview) « Smashed and Sinking!!!

  5. Pingback: The Week in Review (6/21/09) « Smashed and Sinking!!!

  6. Pingback: Getting a Teaching Job in Japan (Part 4: More Interview Stuff) « Smashed and Sinking!!!

  7. Pingback: Getting a Teaching Job in Japan (Part 5: Preparations and Arrival) « Smashed and Sinking!!!

  8. Pingback: Maintaining a Teaching Job in Japan « Smashed and Sinking!!!

  9. i have been reading your blog for a bit now, just wanted to say thanks for this. and i have am subscribed to your RSS feed. look forward to reading more from you

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