How to Format Your Authentic Japanese Resume
Written by Sarah Edwards, Author • Last updated on May 15, 2024

How to write a Japanese resume

Applying for jobs anywhere in the world can be daunting. However, crafting a resume for a job application in Japan can be especially challenging for someone who hails from North America. The expectations for Japanese resumes are quite different than they are in the West, including a strict format that is rarely tampered with. Learn the basics of creating a well-structured resume for the Japanese job market and the key professional and cultural differences to watch out for.

Cultural differences

Japanese resumes include much of the same information about education, work history, and skills. However, there are some critical cultural differences that any Westerner applying for a job in Japan needs to know about. 

First, creative resumes are rarely seen in Japan. This is because resumes, referred to as “rirekisho” (1) in Japan, follow a strict resume template. There are lines, boxes, and structural expectations for every section, so you’ll never have to guess about what information you should include or where it belongs on the page.

A formal Japanese resume should also include a photograph and information about the applicant’s age and family structure. (2) This is generally a no-go in the United States, where applicants and organizations alike often worry about navigating issues of age and racial discrimination.

Another difference between a North American and a Japanese resume is that the latter is not as concerned with conciseness. Job seekers in the Western world often worry about putting too many details on their resume. Those in Japan must include lots of personal information. In some cases, they must include a more detailed CV along with their resume. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for Japanese resumes to be more than one page.

Although some have indicated that a Japanese resume must be handwritten to be accepted, this is not the case anymore. However, while many North American companies would think it strange to receive a handwritten resume, Japanese companies look favorably upon this practice. (3)

Expert Tip:

When crafting your application, consider starting with a Japanese resume example or template. This will help you adhere to the strict format for Japanese resumes and ensure that you include all the necessary information your target employer wants to see.

Format and structure of a Japanese resume

Unlike resumes in the Western world, a Japanese resume follows a strict format and structure. Here are the essential elements you should include to ensure that your resume will be well-received.


Although virtually no one in the United States puts their photo on a resume, it is common practice in Japan. The photo you use should be a professional one in which you are dressed conservatively in formal office attire. 

The picture should be similar in size and type to a passport photograph. This means that your face should be well-lit against a solid background. Avoid wearing glasses, hats, flashy accessories, and heavy makeup. Don’t have hair on your face or smile too wide. Also, ensure that the photograph is in color instead of black and white.

Date of application

The top of your Japanese resume should include the year, month, and day you will submit your resume. In the U.S., this information is generally reserved for your cover letter. In Japan, include it on the resume and make sure it’s accurate. 

Personal information

While most North American resume articles would advise against it, Japanese employers expect that you’ll disclose many personal details in your resume. 

As with resumes in the Western world, you will need to give your full name, present address, phone number, email address, and any other contact information you want to include. However, a Japanese resume also needs to include your nationality, date of birth, age, and gender (4) — all elements you would leave off the resume in many other countries.

Academic history

In Japan, any resume you submit should include your full academic history, starting with high school and ending with your highest level of education. Include your graduation month and year for every level of schooling, as well as the school name, department, and major. You won’t have to worry about your graduation year giving away your age since you will already have included your age and date of birth in the previous section.

Work history

After a one-line gap, you will next give the employer details about your work history. Unlike the reverse chronological resumes that set the standard in the U.S., your past employment should be listed in chronological order (5) on your Japanese resume, which means you should start with your first job and end with your most recent position.

Don’t forget to state the year and month you joined the company as an employee and state your reason for leaving in the next line. You don’t have to include bullet points about your roles and responsibilities if you will be including a CV along with your resume. If not, you can include a few details about the nature of the employer’s business and your role in the company.

Licenses and qualifications

If you have applied for any job in the United States, this short section will already be familiar to you. Here, you will list any relevant licenses or certifications that can make you stand out in the hiring process or that are relevant to the job. Make sure to include the year and month it was obtained next to each license or certification.

Special skills and self-promotion

If you’re the kind of person who likes to “sell yourself” on your resume, then you’re in luck if you’re applying for a job in Japan. The Japanese resume format makes space for anyone to showcase their skills and tell why they’re a great candidate for the job. 

You can use this space on your Japanese resume as a professional summary of sorts, listing your special skills and highlighting the value you can bring to the company. Make sure that you’re being polite when explaining how you can use your skills to benefit the company. 

Although it is not uncommon to use the same resume to apply to different positions, you should still ensure your skillset is relevant to the role you’re applying for.

Miscellaneous information and requests

This last part of your resume will include quite a bit of information about your personal life. Although you have already listed your address at the top, you need to indicate your commute time in five-minute increments so the employer can see how close you are to the job. (4)

Additionally, you should list any dependents for whom you will provide at least half of their support, as well as information about your spouse and whether they are employed. (4)  You also need to indicate whether you have a health condition that will affect your working life and make a detailed request for any special accommodations. (6)

Job seekers in other countries may consider this section to be a little “too much” in terms of information disclosure, so North American resume and cover letter examples don’t usually include it. However, Japanese companies need to have this critical information about you to determine whether you’re suitable for the job and to ensure they can accommodate your needs. 

“Job seekers in the Western world often worry about putting too many details on their resume. Those in Japan must include lots of personal information.”

Following the rules is the key to crafting a standout Japanese resume

Japanese and North American resumes include many of the same elements. However, the addition of highly personal details, the strict format, and the inclusion of a photograph make the Japanese resume stand out as unique.

When creating your Japanese resume, avoid typos and grammatical errors that can overshadow your qualifications. Include all necessary information, but try not to be long-winded or ramble on about irrelevant details. If you’re from North America or a different country, write your resume in Japanese and ensure that it’s readable and clear.

If you need help getting started with your job application in Japan, consider using Jobseeker's resume examples and cover letter templates that adhere to the cultural norms. When you respect the rules of job hunting in Japan, you can rest assured that you’ll come across as poised, professional, and qualified for the position.


(1) Inbound Technology: How to write a “Shokumukeirekisho,” the other Japanese resume

(2) Japan Today: No gender, photo, or first name – One company makes major shakeup to job application forms

(3) Peregre Works: Do I have to write a resume with my hand?

(4) GaijinPot: Japan 101 - Jobs and Employment

(5) Internship in Japan: How to improve your CV to work in Japan

(6) Living In Japan: How to Describe “Personal Requests” in your RIREKISHO – Documents required for job hunting 09

Share via:
Sarah Edwards
Sarah Edwards
A seasoned HR writer with more than a decade of experience, Sarah crafts insightful guides and timely articles that help people grow their skills.

Get ahead of the competition

Make your job applications stand-out from other candidates.

Get started