There are interesting new opportunities for international talent to work in Japan.

If you are now assuming that the big corporations became more open and flexible, I’ll have to disappoint you.

I am talking about getting on board of one of the fast-growing Japanese tech startups.

Startups are the future of Japan.

Having said that, I have bad news and I have good news.

The bad news: There are not enough startups and there is not enough talent willing to create a fast-growth company in Japan, yet.

The good news: The few who do have the courage and the stamina to make it happen are on the way to success. Competition is relatively little.

Startups in Japan offer change from the status quo of Japanese companies. And one of the biggest changes is in hiring practice.

The hiring approach of black-suited “Japan Inc” has been and still is to hire a whole bunch of graduates freshly from university and then train them collectively, without regard to individual skill levels. You might not even be able to choose your department yourself, but rather will get staffed where the company wants you. Plus, traditional employers may not give new recruits much responsibility.

The one-size-fits-all approach no longer works.

Startups in contrast cannot afford long training periods. They simply need professionals who get shit done. They need to hire globally competitive engineers, designers and sales hustler from around the world.

Many of the new Japanese startups think globally from the start, knowing that there is more than just a shrinking home market to go for.


Now it is natural that you might have some worries (Similar worries as I had btw):

Worry 1:I don’t speak enough Japanese.”

Well, learn it. It will enrich your personal and professional life in Japan tremendously.

When it comes to work it is not really an issue if you fluently speak CSS & JavaScript instead. It’s also not an issue if you sign up for a company who’s future and customers lie out of Japan.

Worry 2:I don’t know anybody.”

Personal relationships and trust are very important when doing business in Japan. You might think it is difficult for non-Japanese to become part of the local startup community. But like in any other country the the venture scene is all about networking and is extremely approachable. But of course…

…trust will remain something that you’ll have to earn.

Here are four tips on how to find your job in a Japanese startup:

1. Join (some) events
The scene is relatively small but all about connecting. There are plenty of networking events happening in Tokyo each week. The easiest way to find out about these meetups is to sign up for the StartupDigest Tokyo mailing list.

2. Stay informed
Over the past 2 years StartupDating Japan has become the number one source for information on the Japanese startup ecosystem. One important part of this ecosystem is accelerator Open Network Lab. Onlab has a strong portfolio of startups with operations overseas which are also constantly growing.

3. Connect
Tech companies are looking increasingly for engineer and design talent through new social recruiting services like Wantedly. It is a very applicant-friendly platform where you can kind of invite yourself for visiting an office of the company you want to work for.
These conversations often happen to be very fruitful and can lead to you being hired. In the worst case you’ll make “just” a new connection.

Social recruiting service Wantedly

4. Be pro-active and deliver
But this is something that applies in Japan just as anywhere else.


Also our company Goodpatch Inc is always looking for the best engineers and designers. We are happy to hear from you.