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If you would like to apply for a position in a Japanese company, first visit the company website. If they indicate they are always accepting applications, then they may be willing to hire you. However, not all company's Human Resources Departments are very adept at English. Application letters or CVs written in English may be immediately deleted or scrapped. Therefore, submitting your application in Japanese will give you a better chance of being noticed. You could submit a Japanese translation of your original CV, but there is also a Japanese resume format that has been used here for many years. In the following, we will explain how to write a conventional Japanese resume.

For those visitors of our website planning to apply to jobs in Japan, we have prepared a sample rirekisho (履歴書, or Japanese resume) as well as a downloadable template in Microsoft Word format at the end of this guideline page.

While the most recommended way of filling out a rirekisho is to write it out by hand (especially if your character handwriting is good), nowadays even some Japanese people will submit typed rirekishos, so this is not entirely necessary.
A rirekisho alone should suffice for recent university graduates or those without working experience, but those with working experience will commonly prepare both a rirekisho and shokumu keirekisho (職務経歴書, a CV indicating work experience). The rirekisho also has space for writing work experience, but writing your work experience in detail will give you a better chance to appeal yourself. There are set rules for writing rirekishos, but the shokumu keirekisho has no set format.

As standard rirekisho forms will come divided into a left and right page, we will explain the process in the same order here as well. Click the image to zoom in on the picture. Circled blue numbers are given in this example to guide you through the parts of the document, but the downloadable template is left blank without the numbers.

Now that you had a look at what a rirekisho looks like when completed, we will go through each section in detail.


(1) K INYUBI (記入日) = Date of application
Please note that dates on rirekishos are normally given according to the Japanese calendar system, with years indicated according to the reign of the emperor. Please use the conversion table at the end of this page to convert years into their Japanese equivalent. In Section ①, indicated with現在 (genzai, or current date), you must indicate the date when the actual rirekisho was filled out. As you can see, the date in our example is 平成24年6月15日, or June 15, 2012.

(2) SHIMEI (氏名) = Name
The name section (氏名, or shimei) is pretty straightforward. In this particular example, the name of the applicant is Michael Johnson, which in katakana becomes マイケル・ジョンソン. It is not advised to put your name in hiragana, which in this case would be  まいけるじょんそん.

(3) IN (印) = Stamp
Here you will stamp your inkan (印鑑), or personal name stamp. If you have a personal stamp, you can save time by scanning it and attaching a scanned image of it to the Word template. Otherwise, you can just leave this this section blank. In Japan, personal stamps are considered to be more official than a handwritten signature.

(4) SHASHIN (写真) = Personal photo.

In Japan, it is a standard practice to attach your photo into the rirekisho. The photo should be taken in photograph studio or photo ID machine. The following rules apply for rirekisho photos:
・Size: (height x width) 36-40mm x 24-30mm
・Business attire

(5) SEINENGAPPI (生年月日) = Birth date, age and gender.
As you can see, Michael Johnson's seinengappi shows 昭和55年5月9日生(満33歳), which means that Mr. Johnson is a 33-year-old male (男) born on the 9th of May, 1980. A female applicant is indicated with 女 for female. To circle the respective kanji using MS Word, you can use the drawing function in the Word toolbar and change the fill color of the circle to “No Color” in the shape properties to make the inside of the circle transparent or turn transparency up to 100%, at least in MS Office 2007.

(6) GENJUSHO (現住所) = Current address
Write your address in the center of the cell as seen above. If you are applying from overseas, indicate your mailing address here in katakana. The postal code for Japanese addresses is written after the 〒 symbol. Michael is indicating his Japanese address here as he resides in Japan.

(7) DENWA (電話) = Current phone numbe r
Indicate your phone number and your mobile phone number here. For foreign phone numbers, add a '+' and your country code before the number.

(8) RENRAKUSAKI (連絡先) = Contact information
If you are applying from overseas and you have a contact person in Japan (close friend, in-laws, etc.), place their address here. Otherwise, leave it blank. The 方at the bottom corner, which means "in the house of", stays as-is. If the contact address is the same as current address, like in this case, write 同上, or "same as the above".

(9) DENWA (電話) = (Contact) phone number
If this is the same number written in 7, no number needs to be written here. If your home telephone number is in 7 but you are often out and moving, indicate your cell phone number in 9.

  (10) GAKUREKI (学歴) = School history
Japanese companies tend to place importance on education in the hiring process, so we recommend you write your school history in as much detail as possible.
Here you are supposed to list, in chronological order (from oldest to newest), all the schools you've attended from elementary school on. Date of admission (入学, or nyugaku) is only required for high school. Graduation date (卒業, or sotsugyo) alone is sufficient for elementary and middle school entries. It is standard to use the Japanese calendar system here, but this is not obligatory. You can also use western years.

If you studied abroad during your studies in university, write "country (国), ---university (大学), ---faculty or department (学部), and study abroad (留学)", followed by "Returned to ---university, ---faculty--- division".
If during your education you earned certificates or diplomas you can indicate them here. Here you can also indicate the name of your thesis or research topic if applicable.

If you attended university classes but did not graduate, indicate - university, - undergraduate level and - your department. It is also better to write the reason for discontinuing your education, for example personal reasons (自己都合) or a change of career paths(キャリアの変更). If it is discovered that you have presented false information about your graduation when you did not actually graduate, you may be forced to resign due to academic fraud. As such, be very accurate with your academic entries.

Useful Terms: Faculty / Colledge (学部)
法学部 Law, 経済学部 Economics, 商学部 Commerce, 教育学部, Education, 文学部 Literature, 外国語学部 Foreign Languages, 社会学部 Sociology, 教養学部 Liberal Arts, 芸術学部 Art, 国際関係学部 International Relations, 理学部 Science, 工学部 Engineering, 医学部 Medicine, 獣医学部 Veterinary Medicine, 歯学部 Dentistry, 薬学部 Pharmaceutical Science, 農学部 Agriculture 

(11) SHOKUREKI (職歴) = Employment history
As with the school history, jobs should be listed in chronological order. When filling out these cells after you enter a company name, put 入社 (nyusha), which indicates when you entered the company.
After completing your school history, leave two spaces before starting your employment history.

One reason for leaving a company is retirement, in which case you can indicate 退職 (taishoku). Additionally, you can use involuntary retirement due to company restructuring (リストラ) or lay-off (解雇). Optionally, when leaving the company, you can make use of the phrase一身上の都合により退社, which means “Left the company for personal reasons.”

Note 1: Write with either a black or blue pen, not a pencil. 2. When writing by hand, be sure to print everything clearly in a readable way.

If you happen to be currently employed at the time of application, you may indicate as such with 現在に至る, which means "up to the present". The Kanji combination 以上, which is located three lines down means "finished", indicating that your education and employment history is complete

Useful Terms: Department Names (部署名)
総務部 General Affairs Department
人事部 Human Resources Department
経理部 Accounting Department
営業部 Sales Department
調達部 Procurement Department
研究開発部 Research & Development Department
技術部 Engineering Department
製造部 Manufacturing Department
輸出部 Export Department
広報部 Public Relations Department
法務部 Legal Department
企画部 Planning Department
販売促進部 Sales Promotion Department
企画開発部 Project Planning & Development Department
秘書室 Secretary Section (Secretariat)
社長室 Office of the President

Titles (役職名)
会長 Chairman
副会長 Vice Chairman
社長 President
副社長 Executive Vice President
代表取締役 Representative Director
取締役/役員 Director
専務取締役 Senior Managing Director
常務取締役 Managing Director
監査役 Company Auditor
相談役 Advisor
社外取締役 Outside Director
部長 General Manager
副部長 Deputy General Manager
課長 Manager
係長 Chief
工場長 Plant Manager
秘書 Secretary
支店長 Branch Manager
最高経営責任者(CEO) Chief Executive Officer
最高執行責任者(COO) Chief Operating Officer
執行役員 Corporate Officer
最高技術責任者(CTO) Chief Technology Officer
最高情報責任者(CIO) Chief Information Officer

(12) MENKYO & SHIKAKU (免許・資格) = Licenses and certificate s
As seen above, the very first accomplishment listed in this field is that the applicant received (取得) a Category 1, or "normal" (第一種) driver's license. Depending on a company, holding a driver’s license might be either a requirement or an advantage over other applicants, so you might consider indicating if you have one. It is necessary also to note that depending on your nationality you can either use your international driver`s permit inside Japan or convert your national one to a Japanese one.

Besides a driver's license, the next thing you see is the place indicating a Japanese Language Proficiency Test Certificate, 日本語能力試験1級 合格. Unless you have other marketable skills (lawyer, engineer, financial advisor, etc.) and are on an expat package, then it just offers you a distinct advantage over other applicants. Next, we see a certificate (資格) for TEFL, or Teaching English as a Foreign Language (外国語としての英語教育). Additionally, Michael passed (合格) a German Language Proficiency Test

(13) MOTIVATION, SKILL, FAVORITE SUBJECT, ETC. (志望の動機特技、好きな学科など) = Motivation, skill, favorite subject, etc.
Despite the small size for this section, it is important to present your reasons for applying to another company. From your past work experience, your employers may immediately understand your reasons for application. In addition, the recruiters will read the content written in this field, such as hobbies and special skills. This usually helps determine whether the applicant will fit well within the company or not. In this case, Michael is applying for the positions of translator or business development manager with multi-language abilities.
Ex.: 翻訳や通訳などの営業をしたい。また得意の多言語能力も活かせればと思っています。

Next is special skills (特技). Here you can indicate what you actually can do and are capable of. Michael additionally notes that he possesses expertise in technological, construction and medical fields and is good at using both Macintosh as well as Windows systems.

Following special skills you can indicate your subjects of interest (好きな学科). After that you can write your hobbies (趣味). Though it might sound standard and not necessarily underline you individuality, it is still good to indicate hobbies such as reading books, watching movies or listening to music. If you indicate some particular aspect, it may serve as a good conversation starter, such as "old Japanese movies" or "reading business books" etc.

(14) TSUKIN JIKAN (通勤時間) = Commute time
If the applicant is applying from outside Japan this place can be left blank. If you reside within Japan, following web services such as Yahoo Japan, Google transit, or Ekitan will help you see how much time it requires for you to get to the company and the respective price of transportation. Station names can be typed in Japanese or Romaji.

(15) FUYOKAZOKUSU (扶養家族数) = Number of dependents (excluding spouse).
Indicate the number of dependents to the left of 人. If none, insert "0".

(16) HAIGUUSHA (配偶者) = Spouse

If married circle 有, if not 無.

(17) HAIGUUSHA NO HUYOUGIMU (配偶者の扶養義務) = Spousal support
Circle 有 if you support your spouse, or 無 if you don't.

(18) HONNINKIBOUKINYUURAN (本人希望記入欄)(特に給料・職種・勤務時間・勤務地・その他についての希望があれば記入)= Request to the company (especially salary, occupation, working hours, office, etc.)
The Japanese title here states: "If you have any particular requests in terms of salary, type of work, work hours or work location, list them here". As we can see, Michael indicated that he would like to work in the department (勤務部署) for Europe and CIS. If you don't have any specific preference where in the company you want to be, just delete the 勤務部署. The 勤務地 indicates work location. Since some companies have multiple branch offices across the country, you can indicate your preferred work location here.

(19) HOGOSHA (保護者) = It is less likely that you'll be filling out this field, as it's only filled in for minors (those under 20 in accordance with Japanese law). Here you might be expected to fill in your name, address and phone number.
That is it.

Now that we have gone through each section of the rirekisho step-by-step, you know how to fill one out.
Try to make your CV in this Japanese style according to the explanation here above using the template provided here. Japanese CVs should also be accompanied by a good cover letter which echoes your motivation for applying as written in the CV. (If you have work experience, it is recommended to attach a CV with detailed work experiences: syokumu keirekisyo). If you have access to a native speaking Japanese friend, it is strongly recommended to have them check your CV. As your first impression is important, be sure to use a clear picture and be careful not to make any typos.

Here are two MS Word documents to help you write your own:

Blank rirekisho template and The example explained above.

Good luck with your application! We hope this helps you make an effective and attractive CV and get a good job !

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171-0031 Japan
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