A resume is a very different job application than the rirekisho or the more detailed shokumukeirekisho, and there’s a very different mentality behind it.
Think of the resume as an advertisement. If the hiring managers like what they see, they’ll invest in the product: you.
The mandatory inclusions
A resume is broken down into sub-sections. While there is no single template that all applicants use, there are certain sections which must be included.
The first thing to include on your document is a title: your name. This is typically done either aligned centre or aligned left, in bold, and in a far larger font size than the rest of the document.
Underneath, in a more standard sized font, include your contact details so recruiters can get in touch if they’d like to learn more about you. Often, Japanese job applications will require your home address, but this is usually not necessary in anglophone companies; include at a minimum your phone number and email address.
Career objective statement
The first section of your resume is a short summary of the objectives for your career. Based on where it typically appears on a resume - the very first subsection - it should give you an idea of the importance hiring managers give to this information.
Hiring managers want to see how this job would fit in with your overarching career goals. They want to know if (and how) this job makes sense for your skills, ambitions, and experience, and how you would add value to the company and team you are applying for.
Keep it concise. You shouldn’t need more than a few sentences. Try to include:
- Keywords specific to the job you’re applying for: get these from the job description and the skills or experience listed
- What you have to bring to the role/company
- Why you are best qualified for the role
This section is where you’ll demonstrate to the hiring team that you’ve got the experience and the skills needed to successfully undertake the role you’re applying for.
For each position you’ve undertaken, include:
- The job title
- Department, company, and location
- Start and end date (month and year is the standard accepted format)
- Achievements and responsibilities
When it comes to writing your responsibilities, keep in mind that while these are good to have, it’s better to frame them as achievements. For example, was it your responsibility to send out email newsletters? That’s helpful for the recruitment staff to know, particularly if its a requirement for the role. But in order to stand out from other applicants who are also experienced in email newsletters, it would be better to list it as an achievement if you managed to increase the percentage of opens or click-throughs.
If you’ve got the skills needed for the job you’re applying for, demonstrated in the above professional experience section, why does an education section matter?
Because an academic qualification shows hard work, intelligence, and dedication, as well as in-depth knowledge about a particular subject area. And because continuing education - short courses, MOOCs, other licences or certifications - show intellectual curiosity, a desire to succeed, the ability to learn, and motivation.
These are all signs of a person who can, and likely will, succeed.
This section should include the following:
- Academic qualifications: name of university/college, degree, department or faculty, and location. If you have a particularly impressive GPA, include it here.
- Awards, scholarships, and/or honours
- Professional or educational license or certifications
Optional (relevant) extras
If you have other relevant information that doesn’t neatly fit into the above sections, but is still relevant to your job application, list them here.
If you’re applying for a role that requires (or at least would benefit from) any technical skills, include them here. These could include software learned, programming languages, or other niche skills learned.
If you’ve got experience that you learned from volunteering for your community, list them here in the same format as professional experience.
To be included only if they are relevant to the role. They may add skills or experience, for example, or show knowledge of a subject that you may not have been able to highlight in other sections.
Any languages that you can speak should be listed in its own section. Include your level of fluency.
When writing your own resume, it’s important to remember that many companies use automated software that filters out applications that aren’t likely to be a match. And if you make it past the software, recruiters typically scan applications for a few seconds before they decide if it’s worth keeping or discarding. That’s why each sentence you write must be there for a reason, and each resume tailored to a specific job ad.
So keep it concise. Make sure all the information included is relevant. And once you’ve rounded out your resume with any optional extras, you can click send with confidence.