Job Hunting in Japan – FULL GUIDE to Foreign Student Recruiters, When and When Not To Use Them

This post was originally featured on MEXT Scholars Association. The article was written by me and because the information displayed is also important for people outside MSA to read I am posting it here as well (as well as a piece of my writing).

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Top photo by ijmaki.

You may have heard of foreign student recruiters – particularly when thinking about working in Japan. But what do they do? Why should you work with them?

There is a huge lack of information about recruiters on the internet right now and so we decided to make this article to advise foreign students about the value they can give – but also what to watch out for when dealing with recruiters.

What Are Foreign Student Recruiters

Foreign student recruiters – very basically – are companies (or individuals) who help companies find foreign students they want to hire. Included in this process is finding the students firstly, initial screening and interview preparation.

Recruiters are usually only paid when a student accepts a job position. This means that unless you actually sign the work contract, they get zero money for their work. It is therefore in their interest to ensure you accept a job.

Why Use Them

Image by: Danymena88

So, why use them? After all, right now they don’t seem to offer anything to the students themselves.

In here we list out 4 points for how why you may consider using recruiters:

Wasting less time with companies who do not hire foreign students

Anyone who has been through job-hunting will know of many companies who say they accept everyone who is 優秀(excellent) … but actually don’t. Especially if you are a foreign student.

Recruiters know which companies hire foreign students and which do not. And therefore any company they recommend is guaranteed to accept foreign student applicants – stopping you from barking up the wrong tree and wasting valuable time.


Because recruiters want to have you get the job, they will often spend a lot of time with you preparing you for both how to write your Entry Sheet (or job application form) and interview skills.

This can be very valuable if you find yourself lost on how to write your entry sheet or the proper mannerisms in a Japanese interview.

Skipping steps, lowering difficulty

The recommendation of a recruiter can be very powerful. If the company trusts the recruiter and his/her recommendation for you, you can possibly skip steps (thus wasting less time) or even have difficulty lowered for tests and interviews.

These are some (anonymous but true) example cases that we are aware of where recruiters have helped:
・Lowering the Japanese N2 requirement to an N3 for a very skilled student.
・Skipping the SPI (or online test) and heading straight to interview stage.
・Lowering the SPI passing mark by 30 points for a foreign student.

There are even cases of foreign students being sent straight to final interview with a strong recommendation – though of course not for every case.

So Why Isn’t Everyone Using Them Already?

Image by Sean Madden

Because there are some drawbacks to take note of! We advise anyone who is approaching a recruiter to be aware of the following.

They all have their specialities

All recruiters have their own specialities – some cater more to STEM graduates, some more to ASEAN foreign students, some provide services in English etc.

Depending on your profile, the best recruiter for you will change and if you approach the wrong recruiter you may be wasting your time.

Therefore, do your research first before approaching a recruiter to see what their strengths are.

They largely only serve their client companies

Naturally, recruiters get the money from the companies they serve. This means that most of the time, you will only get information about this limited set of companies.

Naturally, most recruiters will choose the best match within their companies for you, but do not expect them to go out of their way to search for the best company for you outside their network – especially since they are unlikely to get money.

IMPORTANT: Be wary of unethical recruiters

When dealing with recruiters be wary that you are the customer – but also the product.

There are therefore some unscrupulous recruiters which may push you to a “black company” so that they can make a quick buck.

Also, generally the advice is that if a company asks you to pay for their services – run away. It is also illegal by Japanese law to charge the candidate (or student in this case) for recruitment services in most cases.

The recruitment partners of MSA are companies which have had at least years of experience doing recruitment and come recommended from the people we know and so we can vouch for them. Please do your homework for other recruitment companies.

Featured Recruiter: Sociarise

We want to end by introducing a recruiter which MSA strongly recommends.

Sociarise is a company which offers both recruiter services as well as general career counseling. They support foreign students throughout the whole of Japan by pinpointing the best companies for you, application support (including resume and interview preparation) and with the following visa application.

They have an 80% interview pass rate for supported students as well as a 100% visa approval rate for visa applications they support and provide services for foreign students at universities such as the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

The easiest way to contact them is directly through their Facebook page – just access it and send them a message (in English or Japanese) about your current situation. It can be anything such as not being sure what companies to apply for or concerns about how to approach interviews.

Help is always around!

We would like to remind you that there are many avenues for support in your job search – recruiters are one key source for which you can get a lot of help. Nonetheless, please be wary to choose good recruiters and avoid bad sheep.

All the best for your job hunting!

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