all 50 comments

[–]thejoyofwatches 77 points78 points  (2 children)

What do you want to do?

[–]indiebryan 30 points31 points  (0 children)

Live in Japan

[–]Zuppan関東・東京都 54 points55 points  (4 children)

I've been an ALT, then I went on to recruiting, and eventually left that all behind in a career change. I was able to pivot the recruiting experience into sales. My Japanese was thankfully on point already, so I was able to find a job doing global sales for a Japanese company, then as my Japanese (keigo) improved further I moved onto domestic sales.

After... a few miserable years at a black Japanese company, I was able to garner enough experience to work for Gaishike companies in various client facing roles. My exact title and position has changed quite a bit over the years, but I'll lead meetings in Japanese, introduce new products, create decks, run training sessions etc.

A big factor to my success has been my language skills. No way I could be where I am without it.

edit: Spelling

[–]BikkuriMK近畿・大阪府 6 points7 points  (1 child)

That's awesome ! Did you come with any Japanese at all, or study all here?

[–]Zuppan関東・東京都 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I studied before getting here.

[–]kagamiis97 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Okay my Japanese is good but it’s not great and I’m now motivated to take lessons again and brush up on it. I don’t want to be stuck.

[–]Nami_Swan_ 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Couldn’t agree more. Whatever career you choose will be limited by your communication skills.

[–]dottoysm 50 points51 points  (4 children)

(Looks like that other guy created a monster...)

The upshot is that you need to find what you want to do and study/work for it. (And/or, not treat your job as the be all and end all.)

This is how people "fall into" these kinds of jobs. They don't have any real career goals or ambitions outside a general "move up in the world". Without any particular skills to specialise in they drift aimlessly and don't really go anywhere in their career because they don't have a way to go.

Now, as someone who did go from teaching to careers other than recruiting, I can tell you Japanese ability can be a great asset and there are jobs that would hire you for your bilingual abilities. I have had a few jobs like this and yet I still left them to pursue other things. Now I am a translator as I find translation fulfilling. If you like languages you should definitely consider that as there are high-paying translation jobs out there, and if you have the grit to go freelance you can make a decent living on it.

However, that hasn't solved all my career problems. Every career will have challenges and any career you take can risk having dead ends. And I would be remiss if I didn't tell you I am actually studying something completely different because I have found it interesting and I want to try a new career. My advice to you is to study Japanese, think about what kind of career you would really like to do (maybe you could look at the industries you help recruit for), study that too, then fight like hell to enter the industry. Once you have a specialisation, you will be better able to find a career you really like.

Just know that it may not solve all your problems and jobs won't all of a sudden become better once you enter X industry. Also know that while Reddit loves to snub "unambitious" English teachers (and there are definitely some sorry cases out there), a lot of them don't really care what we say because they have a hobby or a family that brings them enough joy in their lives.

Is this the reason why so many gaijin get depressed and ultimately return to their home countries?

Side rant here, but people say this as if the goal of life is to live in Japan and you are a failure if you go back home. One thing is that we (Westerners who frequent Reddit) are privileged to emigrate from countries which are around Japan's standard of living, so going back isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of reasons why people go back and their careers is only one reason.

[–]jpn_prof[🍰] 7 points8 points  (0 children)

This is excellent

[–]hoybruha[S] 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Your comment is definitely one of the most helpful and honest, and I feel like you described me to a T. I’m honestly still trying to figure out what I actually want to do in life, as I feel like I lost a big chunk of myself while doing recruiting.

[–]donarudotorampu69関東・東京都 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Very well put. What is the new career you are planning? Is it a complete departure from translation?

[–]dottoysm 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Data analytics. Quite a departure but I’ve used it a lot in previous jobs and my current job so I feel it might be good to try!

[–]Gizmotech-mobile 44 points45 points  (0 children)

What's your actual skill set? What job were you planning to do before you came to Japan?

[–]emperor_toby 18 points19 points  (2 children)

I am a career professional in Japan and have worked many different corporate jobs and I can honestly, gods truth, say that the most personally fulfilling job I ever had was teaching English at an Eikaiwa when I was in my early 20s.

[–]Breakin_yo_ankles 2 points3 points  (0 children)


No deadlines, no overtime, no staring at a screen for untold hours

The things you do for money...

[–]crowkeep関東・茨城県 16 points17 points  (1 child)

How old are you?

Most importantly, why are you here in Japan?

What are you interested in? Passions? Pursuits?

I didn't go down either of the cited paths. Having been involved in IT/Design/Coding since I first moved here in 2006.

But I burnt out rather significantly earlier this year, and as a result have gone freelance/independent/sabbatical. Much to the benefit of my own sanity.

But I think, as to why many foreigners ultimately, and eventually return to their countries of origin is simply that they eventually find themselves unmoored in the midst of a very unfamiliar culture.

Burdened by a realization that they really have no significant reasons to remain and nothing substantive to hold onto here, whatever that might be.

The same reason that anyone might uproot themselves from really anywhere in the world.

[–]hoybruha[S] 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I’m 28. I came to Japan from a small town thinking that I’d have access to better opportunities simply by being around more people who are already successful. Naive, I know.

I can’t help but feel like I wasted the better half of my 20s trying to made things that other people said I’d be good at work.

I have a lot to think about, as I’ve lost sight of what my passions are by trying to be like everyone else

[–]MossySendai 13 points14 points  (0 children)

You need to stop thinking "jobs for gaijin in Japan". What do you enjoy doing. What do you want to do apart from just be in Japan. What would you do if you were in your home country?

If you just want better money/conditions you can of course get into tech/finance/sales but that will take some consistent study, a genuine interest in the field and perhaps a specific qualification.

I retrained to go into tech. I was able to spend 9-10 hours in front of computer solving programming related problems quite happily, so I knew it was ok for me. That's probably the best advice I can give.

[–]delldelldell123 12 points13 points  (1 child)

What about your current job do you dislike? Is it the job itself, or the people?

What level of Japanese do you have?

Truth is; you can escape a career, but you can't escape yourself.

[–]kyotofc 1 point2 points  (0 children)

You're right. Reminds me of Bob Marley "You can't run away from yourself".

[–]dougwray 9 points10 points  (1 child)

Who, besides people who've quit doing it, looks down on teachers? They don't become rich, but it's entirely possible to make a career of it and you're doing something that helps others make their own lives better. In most circles (save those who judge worth mainly by wealth), teachers are respected.

As for advice for you, I'll echo u/thejoyofwatches and urge you to get training (more than likely from some form of teacher) that allows you to make whatever you decide your next step will be.

[–]iikun 5 points6 points  (0 children)

In my experience, a lot of people in that path end up recruiting themselves into a client’s organization. That is to say that a number of recruiters who contacted me later updated their LinkedIn profile to show they’re now working at companies they tried to recruit me into.

[–]jpn_prof[🍰] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I would love to know what it truly feels like to be in a job I don’t hate. And to be seen as a respectable, productive members of society, in an industry that isn’t largely looked down on.

Hey, you hate your job - you're normal! This is all down to you however. Liking or disliking something is not a product of your outer surrounding, but rather it comes from within. Happiness is a choice. Your job does not define your happiness and drive, YOU do. You can choose to wake up and say today is going to be a shitty day, or you can wake up and prepare for a great day. Be the best you in everything you do and the rest will fall in place.

As for being seen as respectable and not looked down upon, I think you are being way too hard on yourself. The sooner you learn to like who YOU are, the more you wont give a crap what anyone else thinks of you. Stop comparing yourself to others.

There comes an impasse for almost all ALT/Eikaiwa workers here. To navigate this fork in the road you have 3 choices: 1. get your MA in Education, publish as many manuscripts as you can (or perish), and work on building your schedule with part time university gigs until you get a full time job. 2. Go to Japanese school. A good one (Meguro Language Center used to be a good one back in the day - not sure about these days). Being fluent in Japanese will open doors for you in the Japanese business workplace. Dont underestimate Japanese language ability in getting jobs in Japanese business. 3. Leave Japan and go back home. I know it is the last thing you want to hear, and I hesitated putting it as a option but it is the last option for many. You can always come back after you re-brand yourself back home.

Good luck!!

[–]Joyous_Jisatsu 4 points5 points  (0 children)

A beautiful butterfly

[–]taivpgw 4 points5 points  (0 children)

You shouldn’t contemplate what others do but what YOU wanna do and ask how to realize it.

As you said you took most basic path, it’s no use caring about others.Being Gaijin doesn’t matter at this point.

But don’t be negative. This is just the way almost everyone is going through, even Japanese in Japan.

I recommend you remember what was your anxiety when came to Japan or when you felt exited and rewarding most in your career. It will help you figure out what you wanna do.

[–]Nagi828 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Went in to a black Japanese company at first before moving to a gaishikei. It's more challenging but I'm definitely in my space and motivated so it's life changing (also they pay are generally higher than domestic Japanese).

One pattern I see with colleagues/friends who are in recruitment, they usually shift to HR related. Maybe you can try the same if that's something you think you'd enjoy.

[–]ScandyScandy東北・秋田県 2 points3 points  (0 children)

What is a black Japanese company?

[–]Which_Bed 1 point2 points  (3 children)

Do we really need a thread on this every twelve hours?

[–]FreeganSlayer 11 points12 points  (1 child)

Would you rather have another visa, divorce, banking or mental health thread instead?

[–]Which_Bed 2 points3 points  (0 children)

We might need to have a new discussion on banking, because holy shit is banking going down the fucking tubes

[–]bussies 0 points1 point  (0 children)

I think yes, unfortunately

[–]Tannerleaf関東・神奈川県 2 points3 points  (0 children)

You should state your mad skills.

Surely as a recruiter, you’re in an ideal position to recruit yourself?

Exercise the mad skills that you’ve developed while recruiting top talent.

Yes, it’s probably unethical, but so is playing two convenience stores against each other.

[–]NPB_Picks関東・神奈川県 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Ask your sugar daddy to hook you up...

[–]neptunenotdead 1 point2 points  (0 children)

Happened the same to me, but here in China. After 12 years of pretty much the same (but learned Chinese already) I just dropped it and started my own business. It's going well.

Make sure you learn the language. Dedicate a good amount of time to that.

Then find people's problems that you can (and like to) solve and turn them into a business.

[–]box_it_out 1 point2 points  (0 children)


[–][deleted]  (1 child)


    [–]bulldogdiver[M] 1 point2 points  (0 children)

    You need to create a new ID, you're shadow banned.

    [–]tky_phoenix 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    What do you want to do and what are you good at?

    As someone else pointed out as a recruiter you are not an HR professional but a solution/service sales professional. So pivoting into another sales role is an option. But if you don't enjoy being in a sales position that won't work for you either.

    Comes down to your skills and what you want to do. If you stayed in your home country, what field of work would you be in? What brought you to Japan in the first place?

    [–]Suncitylover 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    The question is how can you get a job back in your home country with these skills?

    [–]Either-Bake401 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    Leave, learn something valuable to Japan or a Japanese company, return.

    [–]nickcan 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    That's not a career path. That's a list of jobs that would hire you. As many people said already: what do you want to do?

    [–]_wil_関東・東京都 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    You might be interested in becoming a famous タレント??

    [–]ProfessionalPin3 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    What skills do you have to bring to the table? Think like a recruiter: what would you hire you for?

    [–]japanese_work 0 points1 point  (0 children)


    My usual: not a full gaijin, a halfie, but my nationality isn't Japanese.

    I taught for around 10 months, switched to a recruiting/hotel job. Now I've applied to a start-up company that import goods. They seem to be a good match and I'm excited to see what the workplace would be like. Tbf, I'm really fluent in Japanese as I've attended uni here. I think Japanese skill is really important to get out of that place.

    [–]EmergencyChampion525 0 points1 point  (1 child)

    do you mind sharing how you went to recruiting?

    [–]hoybruha[S] 0 points1 point  (0 children)

    I actually got my foot in as a referral from a friend. But if you don’t know anyone in recruiting, you can easily apply through job boards like gaijinpot. Turnover is extremely high across the industry, so a lot of agencies are always hiring.

    [–]computerbeam -2 points-1 points  (0 children)

    Teach your self to code, you’ll be set for a good while.