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Getting a job in Japan is hard. The visa issue makes it fundamentally difficult for foreigners, but so do misconceptions about the way to go about getting a job. The first thing to realize is that gengo nōryoku (言語能力, language skills) alone are unlikely to land you the position you want: The whole country is full of folks who speak Japanese at least as well as you do. Having other marketable skills is critical — but so is knowing Japanese job-hunting culture.

One of the most interesting aspects of Japanese job-hunting is jiko PR (自己PR, literally, “self-public relations”), one of the few times when Japanese — stereotypically known for their circumspection and humility — are forced to boldly brag and loudly proclaim about their abilities and accomplishments. Getting a job means mastering jiko PR, and mastering jiko PR means understanding its origins.

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