User Interview vol.8 ~I found a way to live happily in Japan as a foreigner~


This time, we interviewed Mr. Aleksandr Ikonnikov, who successfully completed job hunting in Japan.

He is from Russia and he has been working in his native country since he graduated school. Struggling with language barriers and the cultural difference, he managed to complete his job hunting in Japan by having a close contact with his agent. 

We will discover the key to successful job hunting in Japan.


1. Japan is the place that I really wanted to live someday

Connect Job: First of all, could you please give a brief self introduction?

My name is Alexander. I'm from Russia. I'm studying Japanese at a language school in Japan.

In Russia, I studied at the university for a master degree in thematic and mechatronic systems. It was more about hardware than software.

But after I graduated school, I started working as a software developer in a few companies. After coming to Japan, I started working as a freelance developer and after a few months I got a part-time job in a little Russian company as a developer. Now I'm working there until I get the new visa for my new job.

Connect Job: After you had some work experiences in your country, why did you decide to come to Japan

I like this country and it was my dream to be here. I like the culture, the history and the philosophy in Japan. My wife and I share this dream and we wanted to make it come true.


2. Everything of job hunting in Japan was different and tough

Connect Job: What was the job hunting in Japan like?

A year ago, we started preparing our documents to get visas to prepare for school to study here. At this time I started trying to find a job in Japan.

I used LinkedIn as a resource and I sent my CV to a lot of companies but none of them offered me a job.

I think it's because I was not living in Japan at that moment and my phone number was not Japanese.

So I tried to find a job on LinkedIn without any service from an agency.

I found some companies which were trying to find a job for Russians and Ukrainians in Japan, but they wanted specialists who have more than five years of experience. And some of the companies in Japan don’t give us a chance who don’t have enough experience in Japan or who don’t speak Japanese very well. There was nothing I could do.

When I came to Japan it was just like that. The only thing that I could do was a little work as a freelancer. And after some months I found a part-time job. The part time job was good to me because I could work using Russian, and gain new skills at the same time.

After I came to Japan, I created new LinkedIn accounts using Japanese phone number. The idea worked well and a lot of agents started to contact me with job offers. I started finding a job with a former agent, but the jobs the agent offered were not what I was capable of. After having 10 or more interviews, I was so sad because none of the companies offered me a job.

Then Connect Job and new agent came to me and she introduced a great job for me. It was so good to have a chance to meet her.

Connect Job : So can we also ask about the difference between how to find a job in your country and in Japan? It's quite different right?

It is totally different.

First, companies in Russia have HR, human resources employers who try to find workers, and companies look for employees all by themselves. However in Japan, there are a lot of consulting agents to connect with companies.

Second, in Russia we have to answer the job offer from the company in less than two weeks. It's very quick. This is why after I accept the role and send my CV, I only have two weeks or a month until I start working. Some of the big companies have some tests for the big roles but it's not a long time.

I hear in Japan that this process can be so long, around five months or more.

Furthermore, preparing a visa requires them to prepare longer. The process of getting a job takes a very long time.

The culture of job hunting is different too.

Some of the IT companies in Russia, the interview was only about my experience and it was formal.

But the company I had an interview with in Japan made me talk casually about the job and the experience. My agent told me that in Japan the interview is more official and I need to hear more from the directors and not to speak too much and give them brief and important information, but it went differently in my interview. 20 minutes after we started speaking with them, I felt a very casual atmosphere because they were the type of people who are calm and so friendly to people, and it was comfortable to me.

Furthermore, it was a whole different process for me to do job hunting in Japan, because the process of doing Job interview in Japanese was different from doing it in my native language. Keigo was also one of the things that made the process difficult.


3. I achieved my dream with a help by Connect Job

Connect Job: Thank you. So your job hunting in Japan was so difficult. How did you get an offer from that situation?

The new agent - the consultant from Connect Job was really great to me.

She started by believing in my skills and she believed that I could get a job offer. That gave me a lot of power.

And after she found and sent me some positions and the description of the role, she helped me get prepared  for an interview to work with the company.

She understood that I know nothing about the company's culture in Japan because it's so different from a company in another country.

And before the first interview I had a test talk and she sent me some feedback and asked me how I felt.

I think I did it for two days and sent my CV to the company on Monday and got the answer on Thursday. It was so quick. Then we had the first interview.

Before the interview, the agent gave me an interview practice. And after the interviews she gave me some advice on how I should speak in the job interview and gave me a description of the company, the directors, bosses of the company and what kind of people they are.

Then we talked about the company and learned about the company. We learned a lot about the company from the website and media.

And it was literally great because it's so hard for me to get information in Japanese by myself. And after she sent the website of some companies to me, I could get information about the company by translating it with ChatGPT.

After this practice, she gave me some advice. How I need to introduce myself how it would be correct to answer the questions. For example, the answer must be short with a brief description. This advice was literally so useful for me.

It made me so calm because I knew everything I needed. Also, knowing about the company made them very interested in me because it seemed I am also interested in the company and not just in a job itself.

And I tried to tell them that I want to work with them not just because of salary but also because I share a mission with the company, which I truly do, and the project is interesting. I think it was an important thing to get a job offer from the company.

Connect Job :  Do you have Any skills that helped you find a job more smoothly?

The feedback from the company that chose me was that they are so happy to work or to talk with me who shares their interests.

I think job hunting in Japan is not just about skills, but also it's about preparation.

And thanks to the practice it was easy to prepare and learn about the history or other things about this company.

I think my personality also helped a lot because it helped me get over difficulties caused by language barriers. I tried very hard to explain everything with easy phrases to make them understand what I am saying

Technical skill is surely important for companies, but it depends on what position you are applying for.

I think the important skill that I had is engineering education, I mean the master degree because engineers' way of solving the tasks requires more than just experience.

Second thing that helped me to get this position is my love of clear architecture and clear codes. I told the company and their bosses that I love refactoring the code just to make it beautiful, to make it useful and to make it have a good structure. I think it was a good point too. My skill of creating this clear and beautiful codes, styles, etc did a great job in getting a job offer.


4. The company and I had a lot of things in common 

Connect Job: what were your deciding factors for you to join that company?

It was the first company that I tried to find a job in Japan.

So it was something special to me. After researching the company, I understand that they share my ideas about how I could work as an employee, especially the ideas of remote work was that I could share. My agent sent me a video of the interview which is about employees who are both fathers and how remote work helps them work while being fathers.

And after this I started thinking not only that there is a good chance to have experience by working in companies but also started thinking about the culture of the families living in Japan and actually got some advice from them.

And after researching this point I understand the mission of their idea to create something good for people. I think it's important for society to get good products and useful products. I think I choose this company because it would help me with many aspects of my life in Japan for the first time and it gives me a chance to do good things for society and increase skills and make the company rise as well.


5. I want to enhance my career in Japan

Connect Job : What kind of carrier are you thinking about in the future after you joined the company?

I want to be the team leader of a big company.

But only if it's possible and I have grown up as a developer and as a manager enough. It will be so hard to be a manager in Japan with my current level of Japanese.

I am planning to study management skills to achieve this.

Also, I'm planning to live in Japan forever so I am thinking that I need to study Japanese harder. I am not thinking of finishing the practice of learning Japanese.


Connect Job: Thank you very much. Could you give some advice to those who are planning to find job in Japan?

I would say they must learn Japanese.

It's important. It's hard to live in Japan and read something without language skills or knowledge of Japanese. I think it is one of the skills that is necessary to live in Japan. They should study as well as possible.

▶Find a job in Japan with Connect Job

We have 2 types of services based on Visa. If you are interested in working in Japan, don’t hesitate to get our support. All the support is free of charge.

Connect Job

Connect Job is a job-hunting support service dedicated to international students.Career consultants who are specialized in supporting international students will not only give information about job positions but fully support your job hunting from preparation to getting a job offer.

Working visa type : EHI (技術・人文知識・国際業務)

Connect Job WORKERS

Connect Job WORKERS is an app that helps foreigners to find jobs with SSW (tokutei-ginou) visa in Japan with support. You can choose various jobs in different industries such as restaurants, hotels, nursing care, construction, etc. across Japan based on your backgrounds.

Working visa type : SSW (特定技能/とくていぎのう)