Foreigners living in Japan that do not have a steady flow of income or people that want just an extra source of income might consider taking a part-time job (arubaito) to earn that extra cash.
Finding a part-time job in Japan doesn’t have to be difficult, but there are some points that should be considered while looking for a part-time job. In this article, I will share my personal knowledge obtained after working in multiple types of part-time jobs in Japan for more than 5 years. Please consider the following as advice, and not as the ‘only absolute truth’, because every part-time job is different in nature, and has different requirements.
These websites are a great source of up-to-date information, but it might be a bit bothersome to register multiple times, and to delete the newsletters you might automatically receive after signing up.
In that sense, I prefer the reliable and free-of-charge ‘Townwork’ magazines. You can find them practically everywhere in Japan, they are distributed by small stands that are often near convenient stores, train stations, or groceries stores. Part time opportunities are quite good but highly contested, so you had better act fast when you see something that interests you. Remember to take the magazine with the yellow cover, that is the one you need to look for an arubaito. Townwork also has its own website you should definitely check out.
While you are surfing the net, you can also go to headhunter/recruiter websites for more technical-oriented or clerk-like part-time jobs opportunities. Some good headhunters in my experience are Skillhouse (IT & management), Hays (all round), and Active-Connector (IT, marketing, design).
There are plenty of recruiter sites out there, and each of them specializes in different types of jobs, so you can look for the one that suits your preferences and background. However, once again, these are not the sites to look for your typical ‘burger flipping’ job, for that type of job you are better off with the websites mentioned earlier.
In my experience, there are four major types in which part-time jobs can be divided: manufacturing, front-of-house/counter, back-office clerk, and specialist freelancer. Each type of job has different requirements, perks, and payment ranges. In the next section, I will develop more on each category so that you are able to understand better what each one involves.
This type of baito is your typical work that does not involve interaction with clients or customers, and is physically demanding: for instance cooking at restaurant kitchens, moving parcels in a parcel distribution center, assembling products at a manufacturer’s facilities, etc.
For this kind of job basic to intermediate levels of Japanese are required, and factories and restaurants are often looking for new laborers to help them meet their targets. Usually, for this kind of job, all kinds of backgrounds and nationalities are accepted, and not many special skills are needed.
This type of part-time work is your typical job that requires constant face-to-face interaction with customers and is moderately physically intensive: cashier, counter attendant, receptionist, etc.
For this kind of job, advanced to fluent Japanese language skills are a must, given that you will become ‘the face’ of the company. It also requires you to understand the basics of the ‘omotenashi’ philosophy for a high customer satisfaction: the customer is king! This kind of job is usually available to those that exhibit good language skills, but they might prioritize Japanese nationals over foreigners when both are applying unless (English/Japanese) bi-lingual skills are specifically required.
This type of part-time job is not available that often, given that it usually has low personnel turnover and there are few openings in this line of work in general. Also, this kind of job tends to require constant interaction with coworkers and managers, and moderate interaction with business partners/clients. The typical image of this job would be of an office assistant, secretary, etc.
For this kind of jobs, advanced to near-native language skills are highly recommended. People at an intermediate/advanced level might also be considered, however, due to the nature of this kind of job where Japanese if often the only language spoken, people with a low level of Japanese might have a hard time performing their duties. This kind of job is usually only available to Japanese nationals, mostly because of the language issues foreigners might have, but also, because they are usually available for full-time work, unlike foreigners on a student visa who are limited to a 28-hour maximum of work a week.
This kind of part-time job is fairly common to find on headhunters’ websites, however, given that this kind of jobs usually require specialized technical skills, chances of landing one are low if you don’t possess the skills required for the job. The kind of job given to specialist freelancers often involves activities like programming, designing, marketing, translating, researching, etc.
Once again, this kind of job is open to people with a particular skill, and sometimes years of experience are needed to land the job. These jobs tend to be done on a short-time contract given that they are related to a current issue that needs to be solved or project that needs to be finished. Required language skills vary from job to job but, as always, high levels of Japanese might come in handy.
Working in Japan as part-time worker gives you a great chance to get a glimpse of the working culture in Japan, as well a great opportunity to polish your Japanese skills while making some extra cash. Working part-time here in any type of job will ultimately set the foundations of understanding how to work in Japan. This is extremely valuable for those who plan to look for full-time employment later on, as you will start to understand more and more about Japanese work culture, and reduce the culture shock you might experience at a future worksite.
I have experienced 3 out of the 4 types of arubaito that are mentioned above (except front-of-house/ counter), and to be honest, having the opportunity to perform several very different part-time jobs gave me a deep appreciation and understanding of the contribution of part-time workers’ efforts to a company’s end results, whether they are large, medium-sized, or small.
All that I am gonna say is that Japan is one of the toughest markets in the world, and the first thing to do when you face and want to join this market is to take up the position of part-time worker… Hu-ha!!