The Language of Job Hunting - How to Japanese - August 2022
This is How to Japanese, a monthly newsletter with something about Japan/Japanese and a dash of いろいろ.
日本・日本語： The Language of Job Hunting
I’ve been in Osaka for three weeks now and at my new job for two of those weeks. It’s tempting to try and write about all the new things I’m encountering in Kansai, but it feels like a jumble; I’m not sure I have any real insight at this point. (Check out some of my TikTok videos to get a sense of what I’ve been up to.) And when it comes to language study, it can sometimes be beneficial to do the exact opposite: Rather than charging forward into new material, take a breath and review something you did in the past. Get another set of repetitions with something you know is important, something you may need to use again, lest it fizzle into the ether.
So that’s the plan for this month. I’m going to go over some of the language I used when I was job hunting, which I wrote about in June. I’ll go through each step of the way and point out some of the language I used.
Accepting an Interview:
The first step is, always, to thank the company for the opportunity:
(Mensetsu nittei no gorenraku itadaki, arigatō gozaimasu, Thank you for getting in touch about the interview date)
Then confirm the timing:
(Nittei no shōsai wa shōchi itashimashita, I’ve understood the details for the date [of the interview])
This website has a good example sentence if the company gives you a few options to choose from:
(Itadaita nittei no uchi, ika no nittei wa ikaga deshōka?, Of the dates you offered, how is the one I’ve listed below?)
Include whatever other information you need in the email, and don’t forget to finish with the following sign off just before your name. This phrase will end up sounding pretty meaningless in English with a direct translation because Japanese linguistic conventions are so different from English conventions, but it’s important to know how it’s working. I’ll give two translations:
(Tōjitsu wa nanitozo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu)
Direct Translation: Please take care of me on the day of the interview.
Effect of Use: I look forward to speaking with you on the day of the interview.
You should absolutely thank your contact after the interview. Before thanking them, though, be sure to remind them at the top of the email who you are.
(Kinō, mensetsu o shite itadakimashita, Daniel Morales desu, I’m Daniel Morales who you interviewed yesterday.)
As I mentioned in my Japan Times Article long ago, there’s a tolerance for repetition in Japanese, especially at the top of business emails. It’s not unusual to “introduce” yourself in every email to someone, especially if the contact is infrequent and relatively formal.
Then thank them for taking the time:
(O-isogashii naka, o-jikan o saite itadaki, makoto ni arigatō gozaimashita, Thank you for making the time in your busy schedule.)
This next line is probably the most difficult, as it requires a little originality. The goal is to convey your (presumably positive) impression of the company from the interview and communicate that you would like to work there. I used these two websites for reference. There is a lot of complex language going on here, so I tried to keep it simple (not get out “over my skis,” as I like to say). Here’s what I went with:
(Kisha no shigoto naiyō, hatarakikata o ukagai, masumasu kisha de shigoto o shitai kimochi ga tsuyoku natte kimashita, I learned more about the content of the job and the way your company works, and I now would like to work for you even more than before.)
This next sentence is not a line I saw in any examples, but I did think it made sense to ask my contact to thank everyone:
(Zehi kinō sanka sareta mina-sama ni yoroshiku o-tsutae kudasai, Please give my best to everyone who participated yesterday.)
I found this next phrase while researching what to write. I hadn’t used it before but thought it was helpful to communicate that there was no need for a response to my message:
(Go-tabō ka to zonjimasu node, go-henshin ni wa oyobimasen, I know you all are busy, so there’s no need for a response.)
Accepting second or third interview, and thanking your contact after those interviews, should be more or less the same as above, although I’d be sure to vary your phrasings so that they are new.
The next unique step, then, would be:
Accepting an Offer:
An offer of employment in Japan is called a 内定 (naitei), which literally means a “tentative/informal/internal decision,” and has an interesting definition. Check out this from Kotobank:
Something that hasn’t been official announced/processed but has been informally decided. Deciding something internally, and that decision as well.
The first thing you should do after receiving an offer is to thank them and accept:
(Kono tabi, naitei no go-renraku o itadaki, arigatō gozaimasu. Thank you for the message with the job offer.
Kisha kara no naitei o o-uke-shitai to omoimasu. I’d like to accept the offer.)
You could optionally add additional language expressing how thrilled you feel and how you’re looking forward to contributing, but it may not be totally necessary. Very easy to skip to the final salutation, this time with a bit added to emphasize the guidance you’ll likely be receiving from them moving forward:
(Kongo mo go-shidō no hodo, nanitozo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu)
Direct Translation: Moving forward, please take care of me and provide guidance.
Effect of Use: I look forward to working with you. Please let me know the next steps.
One other important email I ended up writing was a message to decline interviews with other companies after I took the offer.
Declining an Interview:
I used a three-part approach here: 1) Apologize and let them know you’ve accepted an offer, 2) Formally withdraw, and 3) Apologize again:
(Makoto ni mōshiwake arimasen ga, senshū tasha kara naitei o itadaki, sochira e nyūsha suru koto o kettei itashimashita; My apologies, but last week I received an offer from a different company, and I’ve decided to join them.)
(Sono tame, ōbo o jitai sasete itadakimasu, For this reason, allow me to withdraw my application.)
(Go-meiwaku o o-kake-shite, taihen mōshiwake arimasen, My apologies for causing you any troubles.)
Most of this stuff is relatively basic in terms of grammar and vocabulary, but it’s definitely the kind of thing that’s useful to review periodically so that it comes to you more effortlessly when you do need it. Hope you found it helpful!
Do you have any language that you’ve found particularly useful on the job hunt? Leave it in a comment. よろしく！
I’m looking forward to digging through the jazz playlist created by TikTok music guy Derrick Gee and mentioned in this video.
Don’t miss your chance to make up your own kanji!
I feel so lucky: A museum here in Osaka is having an Okamoto Tarō retrospective right now. It was great…I might have to go back to see it again.
I also went to see the Okamotos’ graves in Tama before leaving Tokyo. Click through to see Taro's grave in the thread.
This is an incredible thread on literary translation from Lisa Hoffman-Kuroda. A must read for aspiring translators.