Nov 7 2017 The importance of a Japanese resume (even if you don’t speak Japanese!)

One way to increase your chances to be called for interview by Japanese companies is to make your resume in Japanese (even if you don’t speak it)

  • Fixed standard template for Japanese resumes
  • Following the standard format makes it easier for Japanese companies to understand your background making them pay more attention to you
  • Having a Japanese resume will demonstrate your appreciation and understanding of Japanese culture.


Did you know that in Japan, there is a standardized format for a Japanese resume? It’s called a Rirekisho in Japanese. You can even get the set template at your nearest convenience store or 100yen store. Everyone uses the same format when applying to for jobs in Japan. For non-Japanese, this can be surprising as the restrictive format may make it difficult to point out your strengths and uniqueness.

That said, as an expected part of any application it is always advantageous to have a Japanese resume – even if you don’t speak or write Japanese. In this article, we will explore the typical resume format, and how it can benefit your job hunting process.

What is the standard Japanese resume format?

The standard format of a Japanese resume known as a ‘Rirekisho’ is usually two A4 pages (A3 in size). The resume is split into two parts with a solid line separating the two.

Traditionally, you are supposed to hand write your Rirekisho. Companies believe they are able to discern a candidate’s personality and match for a position based on your handwriting.

Nowadays, a good number of companies (especially those with a progressive mindset) accept Rirekisho made in Word/Excel. This saves a lot of headaches!

Though the format is fixed, if you are using word/excel to make your Japanese resume, you are allowed to add additional columns and sections as long in addition to the original format, but you cannot alter the latter. You can find various styles that you can test out on the internet where you can tailor your design to suit your needs. (Just be sure to keep the overall format the same)

Japanese companies will look at your Japanese resume!

For many of the Japanese companies, they are very used to seeing the Japanese resume format. They know where to look if they want to check specific details such as your academic history or specific skill sets etc.

Though there is a consensus for the typical layout of an English resume. Apart from specifics such as name, contact details ,and references. The resume is open to your creativity and your uniqueness makes you stand out from the rest.

This can cause difficulties when Japanese companies are screening your resume. Often times they don’t understand the information presented and are unable to make an informed decision. For this reason, the standardized Japanese resume works as an effective document to allow Japanese Companies to clearly understand your experience and skills.

It shows that you can be a potential fit for the Japanese corporate culture

Having your own Japanese resume will show that you understand or are motivated to learn more about Japanese business culture. We highly regard the value of English resume which you can really express yourself better and show your creativity. However, having a Japanese resume will show that at least you know basic Japanese job-hunting practices and willingness to adopt this method.

Even if the companies are trying to be global and the companies are willing to have more diversity etc. They appreciate that you took the time to understand and adapt their traditions. This suggests mutual respect between both parties.

In one case, we had an HR manager describe his feeling toward foreign applicants who didn’t have a strong command of the Japanese language did their best to present a Japanese resume. For the HR manager, this suggested they had a strong network of Japanese friends or colleagues that helped them with their resume. If a company does not have a high proportion of international employees yet it helps HR managers imagine employees being able to get along with Japanese coworkers.

We know making a resume in an entirely foreign language is no easy feat. We particularly share the feeling that this standard fixed format does not allow for as much individual expression or creativity – that said, we always recommend preparing one in addition to an English resume so you are not limited to this.

Given that having a Japanese resume will help increase your chances to be called for an interview, it’s worth giving it a try. To take a look at what your resume could look like, try using Active Connector’s resume generator function!

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