There are plenty of foreigners schlepping tables in restaurants and manning the register of the neighborhood convenience store. The days when you could just fly to Japan and go door-to-door looking for jobs are over. On a resume, that becomes “Instructed EFL classes for international students studying abroad.” Teach your three year-old niece how to count to five in Japanese. Shows how much you know about “English.” In Japan, that word actually means, “Do what you’re told.” So that’s kind of the opposite.
The way I figure it, jobs in Japan fall into seven categories: 1. These jobs are generally not available from overseas, and most of the people who do them seem to wear faded suits and sweat profusely. If you’re doing a Skype interview, at least wear a suit from the waist up, and hope that nobody asks you to stand and do a demo lesson.
It’s just like the swanky corporate job, only with less money and more time hunched over a computer screen. Textbook sales is another variation on this theme, as is importing used cars to Okinawa and selling Chinese Rolexes on the street.
But when I looked at the cost of language school, it was like paying money to come to Japan, rather than making money. So while those two things are actually enough, let me give you five more you might want to think about: 3. Get something on your resume that every other foreigner doesn’t already have. Take a real class, an almost-real online class, or make something up yourself. Just saying “I watch a lot of anime” probably isn’t going to cut it. Then late on Friday afternoon, when you’re planning to fly to Korea for the weekend, your boss will say, “We need you to work this Sunday.” See, that’s where the flexibility comes in.
This isn’t really a “how to” item, but it’s certainly important to keep in mind. Yeah okay, I know I’m not exactly the best person to give advice on this. Anyway, think about what you’re going to do after teaching English. There may also be a nominal requirement to actually display some English ability in the interview.
For my first interview, I wore a red tie and sat in this giant videoconference room in L. Nobody wants you to put the coffee scoop into the tea pot. I never really considered this option, since in the past I’d been a programmer in the States, and I knew what that entailed. This is what you do when you’re done teaching English. “Training” may also be part of the job, which is where you take a group of jet-lagged college grads whose last job was scooping ice cream and explain to them the intricacies of teaching English in a day and a half. Recruiters may also fill other positions, working on commission.