By Marta / Lifestyle, Work / 2020-04-21

With the COVID19 situation getting out of hand, finding a job in Japan can be a challenge. If you need a helping hand, a visit at your local Hello Work (ハローワーク) office is a good place to start. Apart from browsing current job offers, you can get job counselling and learn new skills through various training courses. Read on for a short introduction to this service.

What is Hello Work?

Hello Work is a public institution in Japan providing support with job searches. It also manages unemployment insurance benefits. These services are offered both to Japanese citizens and foreigners.

How can Hello Work help you find a job?

Hello Work gathers current job offers from employers all over Japan and helps match those offers to job-seekers’ qualifications. The offices also provide consultation services and offer vocational training courses. The staff can also recommend free or cheap Japanese language courses organized by volunteers or NPOs. In some of the offices you can receive information and advice regarding immigration-related issues.

Job-seeker support in English

While this institution is geared mainly towards the Japanese, some Hello Work offices have English-speaking staff or translators on hand to help foreign residents. In many cases an appointment is necessary, so it’s best to call ahead if you are planning a visit. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare prepared a list of offices that have foreign language interpreters available. Depending on the office, you may find interpreting services in English, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

Offices specializing in support for foreigners

Shinjuku Foreigners’ Employment Assistance and Guidance Center – is mainly devoted to supporting foreigners who don’t have job restrictions (spouse or child of Japanese national, long term resident, permanent resident), as well as working holiday, student and dependent  visa holders.

■ Tokyo Employment Service Center for Foreigners – specializes in counseling and placement for foreigners who have visas permitting work in specific fields (such as engineer / specialist in humanities / international services visa, skilled labor visa or instructor visa).

■ Nagoya Employment Service Center for Foreigners

■ Osaka Employment Service Center for Foreigners

Special services for new graduates and 'youth'

If you are a recent graduate (graduated within the last 3 years) or a person under 35 years old, Hello Work can offer you specialized career guidance, interview training, consultation with a psychologist, etc. Most of the services are in Japanese.

How to use Hello Work to find a job

In order to start using Hello Work services you first need to go to an office to register. You can also pre-register you data at home through the HelloWork Internet Service and complete your registration at a physical office within 14 days.

Apart from your personal data (name, address, phone number, etc.) you will have to fill out fields about your desired type of employment, period you want to work and desired working yours. There is also a space to write your desired job type, salary and other conditions. You can also do some PR by describing your academic background, certificates and job experience. Similar to a regular CV, there is also room for listing up your strong points, interests and hobbies.

You can also choose whether you want to accept requests only from Hello Work or also from other organizations (municipal employment security offices, private HR recruiters, etc.

There are two ways of filling out the application: using a computer at the Hello Work office (or your home) and a paper-based form. Both are written in Japanese and you will be required to write in Japanese as well. Don’t worry! The staff prepared a pdf walk-through in several languages and will be on hand to help if you have trouble.

When you finish with the application form, the staff will check if everything is filled out correctly and confirm your visa status. If you opted to fill out the form online through the Internet Service, you will still have to visit an office in person to complete the registration.

Remember to bring your residence card and passport with you to the Hello Work office when you go to finish your registration!

After a successful registration, the staff will give you a registration certificate (ハローワーク受付票, hello work uketsuke-hyo). This contains your job-seeker number and will allow you to use any of the offices in Japan. 

Job offers are in Japanese, so if you feel you need help it’s best to go to an office with English support. If you are confident in your Japanese, try browsing the postings through the HelloWork Internet Service.

There is also a pdf overview of a typical job posting available in English and several other languages to help you get used to the Japanese terms.

Once you come across a promising job offer, Hello Work staff will contact the employer on your behalf and confirm the appropriate application procedure. Some companies want to get your CV and cover letter in Japanese, other would be fine with an English version. Some employers prefer receiving a hard copy while others may want to get your application documents via email. 

If your documents pass the first screening, you will be asked by your prospective employer to a job interview (or several). Again, this will vary, but you can expect a phone interview and one or more in-person interviews.

Usually the employer will contact you directly and let you know the results of your job application. If they are late in getting back to you, you can ask Hello Work to call the company and find out for you.

Hello Work service on the internet

A couple of years ago, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare started to offer some of its job-seeker support services online through a special portal called HelloWork Internet Service. Unfortunately, this is only available in Japanese.

Homepage of Hello Work Internet Service
Home page of Hello Work Internet Service

As a job-seeker you will be interested in the blue part of the website (the orange one is for employers). Here you can find links to various parts of the portal:

■ the login page (ログイン) – for those who have registered for the service and have an account.

■ job offer search (求人情報検索) – if you don’t have an account, you can still search the database.

training courses search (ハロートレーニングコース情報検索) – you can search a database of all courses offered through Hello Work

pre-register your information (求職申込み(仮登録))- register to use Hello Work services (you will still need to go in person after completing the registration online)

What is your Hello Work story?

Have you had a chance to visit Hello Work? Do you have any tips/advice?
Please share in the comments!

MARTA TAKAHASHI
Photographer and explorer with 10 years of experience leaving and working in Japan

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