Cover Letter Guidelines and Sample
A cover letter in Japan should clearly state the applicant’s reasons for writing, what action the writer would like the reader to take, and any connections between the writer and the reader.
When sending a resume in English, a simple one page cover letter in English should be included. The cover letter should be written in clear and simple English to make it easy for the recipient to understand. It should include correct and complete contact details with address, ZIP code, telephone number (including country code) and email. Any company in Japan looking for foreign employees would feel comfortable receiving this.
Resume/CV Guidelines and Samples
In Japan, the official language is Japanese, but English is the primary foreign language and is taught in schools and used in some businesses. However, one should not assume that the recipient of a cover letter and résumé can read fluent English. Keeping the content simple and using short sentences will make it easier for an HR manager to understand and respond to an application. When responding to a job advertisement from an English source, a cover letter and résumé in English would be appropriate, unless the ad is asking for specific languages.
When applying for a position in Japan, the jobseeker has a choice of two acceptable types of résumé/CV (curriculum vitae): the rirekisho and the shokumu-keirekisho. When approaching a Japanese company, the rirekisho, a simple date and location Japanese résumé, should be handwritten by the jobseeker in Japanese if possible. Increasingly, computer-generated rirekisho are accepted, especially if the jobseeker is not claiming to be proficient in Japanese. For applicants who are not fluent in the language, the information must be translated.
Two different types of rirekisho exist; together they present the content of a typical English résumé:
Rirekisho: a Japanese résumé, consisting of two pages with basic information and a brief work history.
Shokumu-keirekisho: work history mainly used by technical professionals.
A majority of Japanese job applicants submit both rirekisho and shokumu-keirekisho.
You'll find more advice and cover letter and resume samples in the complete Japan Guide.