In other countries, we usually use one resume which contains all our personal information and work experience. But in Japan, when we change jobs, we need to hand in two resumes. One is called 履歴書 (Rirekisho - resume), and the other is called 職務経歴書 (Shokumukeirekisho - resume of past work experience) . Do you know the difference between them?
Differences between Rirekisho and Shokumukeirekisho
Well, the first thing you should know is that the aim of rirekisho and shokumukerekisho are actually quite different.
Rirekisho usually contains personal information regarding the background of your education, your phone number, address and etc. Sometimes, it also includes things like self PR, and usually this information is kept by the HR division of whatever company you apply for, so that they have basic information about you that they can refer to whenever they want. Regardless of whether you may be given an offer by that company or not, your resume will most likely be archived within their database. Safe to say the least, this means that you shouldn't give false information on those resumes that you hand in, as this information will last for quite some time and may even be used against you if the information is ever found out to be untruthful (note that, of course, this goes the same for the shokumukeirekisho that you hand in as well).
On the otherhand, shokumukeirekisho contains your work experience, PR and reason for applying for HR to review. Arguably, this is where you can make a lasting impression on those company members who are reviewing your shokumukeirekisho, meaning that you'll probably want to put some effort into explaining in detail about your work experience and how that experience can benefit the company you're applying to -- but more on that later.
For your rirekisho, you will most likely be required to write:
・名前、生年月日、現住所、連絡先 (Name, date of birth, address, contact information)
・学歴、職歴 (Academic background, work history)
・免許、資格 (License, qualification)
・志望動機、趣味特技など (Reason for applying, hobbies, skills etc)★Important to write language skills.
・通勤時間、扶養家族数、配偶者など (Commuting time, number of dependents, spouse)
・本人希望記入欄 (Personal desire)
As for your shokumukeirekisho, things you will be writing would include:
・職務経歴書、年月日、名前 (Job title, date, name)
・職務要約 (Job summary)
・職務経歴 (Job experience)
・活かせる経験、知識、能力 (Experience, knowledge, ablility)★Important to write language skills.
・志望動機 (Reason for applying)
Points to keep in mind when writing your rirekisho
Always remember to add your photo to rirekisho as it will increase reliability. This may be different from your country, but most resumes in Japan require photos.
Also keep in mind that when taking your photo, it is best to wear a suit and keep your hair out of your eyes. For men, it may be better to shave, and for women, light 'natural' make-up is recommended.
HAND WRITTEN VS TYPED
Both your rirekisho and shokumukerekisho should not be handwritten, unless specifically mentioned by the company that you should submit a handwritten copy.
Handwriting was considered to be sincere in the past, but since nowadays most companies use computers to keep your resume, it's best to type up your resume and then submit it. This might actually be more convenient for you (considering that you won't have to be worried about how to write kanji in the perfect stroke order or be worried about how neat or messy your handwriting is - trust me, we know the struggle), but keep in mind that sometimes PDF files may look different depending on the program used to open them. Meaning, you want to be careful when it comes to word limit - what's best is if you write enough just to fill the designated box, but not too much that the text seems cut off at first glance, and not too little so that it seems a little lonely.
ANSWERING QUESTIONS LIKE 自己PR、志望動機 etc.
Because going into how to answer each section will take quite a bit of time, in this article we'll just give you general tips to keep in mind.
① Think carefully about why a company would ask you certain questions, and what you can do to make your answer stand out = the simple answer to this is that the company is looking for a set of skills that could be useful to that company and the job you're applying for; and they want to know what is motivating you to work at that company. Of course, answers like "for money" - whether that be your true motivation or not - won't really cut it for them. They need to know what would motivate you to KEEP working and doing your best, even after you enter the company.
② With that said, don't copy and paste your answers when applying for several different companies. It's tempting, yes, but this might just mean that even though you could have been qualified for that position, they decided that your answer wasn't specific enough or interesting enough to move you to the next step. Take time for each resume you submit - it'll be worth it.
③ Remember that if you do move to the next step, e.g, an interview, the questions you will be asked will most likely be based on the answers you write in your rirekisho. Hence, think about and practice answering in a way that connects all of your experiences to your skills and your motivations. If you practice hard enough, there shouldn't be a question you can't answer - unless it's a completely random question, like "what animal do you think represents you"... which you shouldn't really have to worry about.
Points to keep in mind when writing your shokumukeirekisho
When writing shokumukeirekisho, it’s important to emphasize your strong points as much as possible. This is where you get to write about your experiences in detail, and is very similar to writing a 自己PR.
The most important parts are job summary and job experience.
Firmly connecting your experience to the abilities you've gained or how you utilized those abilities, as well as making this section easy to read is very important. When doing this, using a table format might help make this section easier to read and navigate for those reviewing your resume. Please also keep in mind that if you have changed your job numerous times, it’s better to state your reasons for leaving each job.
Also remember that in most cases the shokumukeirekisho shouldn’t be over 2 pages. For engineers, shokumukerekisho can be longer, but make sure not to go over 4 pages.
Other useful references
Now that you know the differences, aren't you curious now about how to actually write each resume? Luckily, we have your back.
- "How to write a Japanese resume" for more detailed tips on how to write each section in a Japanese resume, in a way that will spark interest in those who read it.
- "A Guide to Japanese Resume (Rirekisho)" for more information about how to fill out a Japanese resume.
And good luck for all your job-hunting endeavours!