A giant leap for one man - part 5

The applying process in Japan, with one or two slight exceptions, is pretty similar to that in the West. This post will cover a lot of obvious ground but you may hopefully get some leads out of it.

Job ads
I can't think of any place where job ads for game development jobs are collected as readily as, say,Edge magazine. There are a few recruit-only magazines that cover a wide variety of industries, but these all appear in Japanese.
If you're aiming for companies with an open mind to hiring foreigners Japanese magazines may not be the right place to look. But if you're simply planning to send out masses of resumes, you might as well.
Magazines like B-ing appear twice a month for different industries (make sure you get the right one). Sometimes in the back (i.e. front) of CG Magazine you'll find some job ads. Basically, look for specialist magazines.

The very best way, of course, is to get a friend who already works at a developer keep you up to date on job openings. This is easier said than done, especially if you're new to the country. But as the development community is as incestuously small as everywhere else, you'll have a network in no time flat. You may have to grab any job offer you may get at first, even if it isn't ideal, but it'll definitely help you for your next job.

Certainly your very best bet is to browse the websites of any or all game companies you want to apply to. They almost all have recruit pages and if those are also available in English it at least shows they are interested in foreign talent. But even if not, if only Japanese pages exist, this is probably the best way to apply; job listings are, theoretically, up to date and they often tell you what they expect to see from potential candidates.
An increasingly popular technique seems to be he pre-application application. This is a kind of on-line form you need to fill in, a kind of digital version of a Japanese resume (of which I’ll write more at a later date). If the company likes what they see, then they contact you to send in your real resume and portfolio. The upshot of this, for the company of course, is that they can separate the wheat from the chaff fairly quickly, but also for the candidates it means a quicker response. You will find you are wasting less time waiting for a response this way, and you’ll learn quickly which companies are dead-ends for you in particular.

Probably the laziest way to get a job is to approach a recruitment agency. There are plenty of recruiters around in Tokyo but few of them seem to cater to foreign developers. Most foreign recruitment seems to be aimed at the more expensive jobs, like marketing, finance and all that jazz. The game recruitment agencies appear to have little experience with foreigners and they'll more than likely not really know what to do with you. They certainly know little of the whole Visa conundrum and relocation issues.
Even if you find a suitable recruiter you'll face the same problems as in the West; a lot of them are simply rubbish, more interested in getting you any old position so they can collect on their commission rather than seriously try to find a place suitable to you.
There are a few good ones out there though.

Final note:
The end of school season is one you should avoid when applying. In the March/April period most larger companies actively go on graduate recruitment drives. In this time they hope to pick up a bunch of inexperienced but cheap interns or employees from a pool of hundreds. For the price you will probably ask they could get as many as three or four graduates, and aside from that there is a real chance your resume will get lost in the piles. It is unlikely companies will be hiring for regular, experienced positions at this time but if you are on a massive application initiative it can never hurt to send in your stuff anyway; just don’t expect an answer, positive or negative.

In future posts I’ll address the archaic Japanese resumes and give some insight into the interview procedures.

1 comment:

  1. Really useful info!

    I already visit loads of japan-based blogs, but this one has the added goodness of CG too!

    What company do you work for by the way? What games have you worked on?
    Ive always had a longing to work at a games company in Tokyo, but the killer hours sound very tough compared to the 8 hours a day im used to!