Japan takes a very different approach to resume writing compared to many other countries. For example, Japan actually has two types of resume; “Rirekisho (履歴書)” which includes your general information and “Shokumu-keirekisho (職務経歴書)” which describes your work experience in details.
This often causes some confusion for foreigners in Japan who are used to writing one resume and CV, so we’ve decided to show you how to write these two types of Japanese resume – rirekisho and shokumu-keirekisho, and provide you with a template to download so you can get started straight away!
You can also take a look at our top tips to help you optimise your resume before you get started on your application for a job in Japan.
Two types of Japanese resumes – Rirekisho (履歴書) and Shokumukeirekisho (職務経歴書)
You generally need two documents to apply for jobs in Japan:
- Japanese resume① Rirekisho (履歴書): shows your general information (name, date of birth, address, etc.) and background (education and work experience)
- Japanese Resume② Shokumu-keirekisho (職務経歴書): describes your past work experience and skills in detail
Companies in Japan may ask you to submit both your rirekisho and your shokumu-keirekisho. In this case, the former will likely be used as a document that will be checked during the screening and interview process, while the latter will be used as a personnel document to state your professional background. This is the reason why shokumu-keirekisho is expected to show more in-depth achievements from your work history.
If a company only requires your rirekisho, you will need to ensure you’ve listed all necessary information and work experience. Make sure you’ve not misspelled anything, left out any information, or hand-written anything which might give the company a negative impression of you. If you are handwriting your rirekisho, make sure your handwriting is neat and legible.
How to write a Japanese resume Rirekisho (履歴書)?
In rirekisho, there are usually five elements you need to include.
- Basic Personal Information (date, name, address, etc.)
- Academic and Work History
- License and Qualification
- Commuting Time, Spouse, Health Conditions
- How to write your Hobbies, Special Skills, and Motivations
- Personal Preferences
Let’s take a look at these five elements in greater detail especially for foreigners in Japan.
1. How to fill in your Basic Personal Information (date, name, address, etc.) in Rirekisho
You can use either the Western calendar (e.g. 2019) or the Japanese calendar (e.g. 令和 1) for dates on your CV. The year should be consistent with the year used in other sections of your CV, such as the education section. Do not abbreviate the year; for example, by using "R" for "Reiwa", but write it formally in kanji. The date in the top right-hand corner should be the day of the interview if you are bringing the form with you, or the date you are going to post it if you are sending it by post or email.
Name and Furigana ― 氏名・フリガナ
Furigana refers to explanation about the pronunciation of a word that is written in either hiragana or katakana. Your name should be written either in hiragana or katakana depending on the furigana. Your name should be written with a space between your first and last name.
Address ― 住所
Start with the prefecture. Write the name of the town or building (e.g. flat) excluding any numeric digits. Unit numbers are not required.
The maximum photo size is generally 4cm (H) x 3cm (W) and should be taken within the last three months. It should be taken from a frontal angle, from the chest up and with your face clearly visible without any obstruction from your hair.
Men should wear a white shirt and tie. Women should wear a jacket and a white or light-coloured shirt or blouse. Make sure your hair is well-groomed and that you have a natural smile.
If you are highly motivated to join the company you are applying for, consider having your photo taken by a professional photographer so that you can make a good impression. It's also useful to have a file of your own photos in digital format, as more companies are asking to receive your CV digitally.
Additionally, don’t forget to write your name on the back of the photo before attaching it so that it’s unlikely to be missed or mixed up.
Contact Details (address, phone and email) ― 連絡先
For the address section, the contact information is usually the same as the current address. As such, you can write “同上” which means “same as above”. For the Telephone number section, don’t forget to include the country code if you are using an overseas number.
Stamp ― 印鑑
If there is a space for a seal, make sure it is not crooked, blurred or empty. If there isn’t space for a seal, it is therefore not necessary to affix a seal unless the hiring manager requests it. In general, use a red-flesh type seal, not a checkered or inked seal.
2. How to write your Academic and Work History in Rirekisho
The education and work experience sections are often similar, in the order of education first before your work experience. Start by writing "Education" in the first line, before writing more information on your education before. Continue on the next line with "Employment history" before writing more information on your work experience. After you have completed both segments, don't forget to write the words 'the end (以上)' at the end.
Academic Background ― 学歴
List your education history in order from oldest to most recent. If your most recent education is in high school for instance, you can start with "Graduated from XX High School". Don’t forget to change out “XX” to your respective school name. Do not abbreviate the name of the school and instead use their official name. You should also write down your department, campus, course, major, etc. accurately.
If you had dropped out of school, write “drop out (中退)”. If you are currently still in school, write “expected graduation (卒業見込み)”.
Work History ― 職歴
Enter your employment history in order from the most recent being on top, using the company name in full. Any transfers, promotions, secondments, etc. should also be included. If you are currently employed, you can also write "to date" or "currently employed (現職)". Generally, you should include all your past employment history, but if you are submitting a shokumu-keirekisho, you can be more concise in this part. If you don’t need to submit a shokumu-keirekisho, you may wish to include your employment status, the nature of your employer's business, the number of employees, your department, and the nature of your duties.
3. How to write your License and Qualification section in Rirekisho ― 免許・資格
You can write your qualifications in order from oldest to newest. You may however write your licenses in any order though it is best to write them in order of their relevance to the company and job you are applying to.
4. How to write your Commuting Time, Spouse, Health Conditions section in Rirekisho
CommutingTime ― 通勤時間
Enter the minimum door-to-door commuting time in 5-minute increments, or in brackets if you have more than one office. For example, if your commute is longer than one hour, write “1 hour 10 minutes”. If it is less than one hour, write “0 hours 50 minutes”. If you plan to move and know where you will be moving to, write the commute time from where your new location will be to the office.
Spouse and Spouse Obligation ― 配偶者・配偶者の扶養義務
If you are married and have a spouse, circle “yes (有)” and if not, circle “no (無)”. If you are planning to support your spouse with your income, circle “yes (有)” and if your spouse is working, circle “no (無)”.
Health Conditions ― 健康状態
If your health condition does not affect your ability to do your job, write "good (良好)". If it does not affect your ability to work, but you are receiving medical treatment and may need to go to the hospital on commuting days, write something like "It does not affect my ability to work, but I need to have regular check-ups once a month due to a medical condition”. You do not need to provide a detailed medical history.
5. How to write your Hobbies, Special Skills, and Motivations
Most resumes should not only have a personal statement section, but also a “special skills, motivation etc.” section. This can be an important topic of the conversation in your interview, so don’t leave it blank.
In the motivation section, you should include the reasons you chose the company for or the job you are applying to, linking this to your work experience and skills. You can also add some examples of your achievements and stories to your work experience and skills you want to showcase.
For your hobbies or other special skills, make sure you don’t write anything that can give rise to a negative impression such as gambling.
6. How to write your Personal Preferences section in Rirekisho ― 本人希望欄
If you have no particular preference, please write "in accordance with your company's regulations (貴社の規定に従います)" and do not leave this field blank. If you have any non-negotiable requirements for working at the company you are applying for (eg. holidays, working hours, etc.), or if there is more than one position available, write down your preferred position to make the interview easier and clearer.
How to write a Japanese resume Shokumu-keirekisho (職務経歴書)?
Shokumu-keirekisho is a work history document that you need to create in addition to a rirekisho in Japan. First, here are the three points you should keep in mind when you write a shokumu-keirekisho:
- Clear points of appeal - make sure to write in a way that appeals to the company you are applying for. For instance, if you are applying for an engineering position but you only have strong marketing experience, it may be a better idea to talk about your technical skills that are relevant to IT rather than your good communication skills.
- Emphasis on readability – use an A4 format and keep the number of sheets up to two or three at its longest. Change the company, industry-specific and technical in-house terms to general terms for ease of understanding.
- Unify fonts – the standard fonts used in Japan are Mincho and Gothic. Make sure you use either of them throughout the whole document.
In shokumu-keirekisho, there are nine elements you need to include.
- Date, Name and Age
- Work summary and overview
- Areas of expertise and skills
- Work experience
- Summary of previous company history (business description, capital, number of employees etc.)
- Job descriptions
- Technical Skills
- Qualifications and language skills
- Other relevant skills or experience that can help you
Next, let’s look at these nine elements in detail.
1 Date, Name and Age in Shokumu-keirekisho
Enter your name and the date you wrote your CV in the upper right corner. Ensure this is also the date in which you will submit your resume. Companies want your most up-to-date information, so make sure to update to a new date each time you apply for a new job in Japan. If the date is more than three months old, please change it to a newer date.
2. Work summary and overview in Shokumu-keirekisho
Summarise your past professional experiences in approximately 3 to 5 lines. The first thing that HR checks is the professional summary and this section will help them to visualise your past work experience.
3. Areas of expertise and skills in Shokumu-keirekisho
Pick about 3～4 of your skills or experience that are relevant to the position you are applying for and write them down in bullet points.
4. Work experience in Shokumu-keirekisho
Write a brief summary of each of your work experience from the latest company at the top, and include the employment dates as well as type of employment: 正社員 (full-time), 契約社員 (contract), 派遣 (temp) etc. If you’re currently working for the company, write “〇年〇月〇日～現在 (〇/〇/〇～present)”.
5. Summary of previous company history in Shokumu-keirekisho (business description, capital, number of employees etc.)
Refer to the latest corporate profile of each company and summarise the business outline in one sentence. Include capital, stock, and the number of employees (if unknown, you can omit them).
6. Job description in Shokumu-keirekisho
Focus on the operational experience that are appropriate for the position or industry that you are applying for. Include details about your clients and the industries that you were working with/in. Also, if you have any specific results that can be shown in numbers, it’s always a good idea to include them (e.g sales results). If you have an experience that you want to highlight, be specific by including the number of years too.
7. Technical Skills in Shokumu-keirekisho
If you are an IT engineer, you need to clearly state how much practical work experience you have such as systems, frameworks, language, middleware, and tools. Be sure to mention the working level to convey your skills to the companies that you are applying for. You could also include skills that you have no experience with or have learned on your own by labeling them as “self-learning”.
Other examples of PC skills include:
- Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Power Point)
- Others (SAP, Access, Kanjo Bugyo, etc.)
8. Qualifications and language skills in Shokumu-keirekisho
Enter all official qualifications that might be relevant to the role you are applying for. In addition, write down the acquired languages, levels, and practical experiences if any. For example, you can write down your test scores (IELTS, TOEIC, TOEFL etc.) and state the level you’re at (eg. Business Level).
9. Other relevant skills and experience you want to highlight in Shokumu-keirekisho
Select one or two points (skills, experience etc.) that you want emphasis on. If you are highly motivated to join the company you are applying for, it may be a good idea to fill in the reasons why you wish to join the company and your motivations.
Download free Japanese Resume Template (in Japanese and English)
To help you, we’ve prepared free Japanese and English resume templates for you to help you showcase your strengths and specialisation. Please find the following free templates below for your use.
With the above tips on how to write your resume either in rirekisho (履歴書) or shokumukeirekisho (職務経歴書), we hope that it will help you score an interview. Below are some bonus tips to take note of before you go for your interview.
How do I state my salary expectations?
Some job vacancies may state a salary range like “250,000 yen to 400,000 yen per month”, while others may just say "negotiable" and not give any further details. However, if you have a minimum salary that you would like, you can ask for a range for those with similar experience to yours during the interview. If it is far from what you expect, you can choose not to be considered.
You may also include this within the “Personal Preference” section in your rirekisho which is quite common for applicants to do so.
You may also be asked about your salary expectations at the end of the interview so ensure you’ve calculated and thought about your expectations – both monthly and annually. Finally, it is important to confirm the conditions before accepting the job offer.
To what extent do you need to include conditions that may affect your work (eg. holidays, working hours)?
If there are unavoidable constraints on your work, such as health reasons, childcare or nursing care, you should include a brief explanation. To decide if you should include this will depend on whether it is a situation that regularly affects your working hours, such as regular visits to the hospital or returning home after childcare. For example, requests for irregular time off due to a child's illness should not be included on your CV but should be confirmed at interview if this is necessary.
Likewise, you may also include this within the “Personal Preference” section in your rirekisho.
Need support to apply for a job in Japan?
At Computer Futures, our consultants are here to help you through every step of your job search. We put our expertise to use to find the perfect job for you and make sure you’re well prepared to impress at every step of the application process. To find out more about what partnering with Computer Futures really means for your career, get in touch with us. You may also view our latest job vacancies by clicking the button below.