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2019/12/24 Update

Tips to Advance your career: How to succeed in your career as a foreign IT engineer in Japan?

What is actual salary offered through us?

As engineers in Japan, many of you may be curious about how to get a career advance here, especially how to get a higher salary. In this article, we will talk about actual salary offered through JELLYFISH, Inc., successful stories of previous candidates and things you can do to pursue your career after reading this article.

What is actual salary offered through us?

First of all, we would like to ask one question;
What do you think the the maximum salary up one of our candidate obtained compared to the previous annual salary is?

The answer is...1.8 million yen in a year!
How do you feel about that? (It sounds good, right?)

Second, what do you think how many candidates could obtain higher salary?

The answer is… 91.8% of the candidates!
Just a few people decided to join the company with less salary because of the job contents, but most of them can achieve the career growth in terms of salary.

The range of salary raise

※Please note that only the result of transition within Japan is included because the salary raise can not be calculated from the company in other countries to Japanese company due to the difference of the prices.

So, we would like to show the range of salary raise as above.
From the graph, we can see that 61.1% of the candidates could increase their salary by nearly 1.0M yen.

3 reasons of salary raised

Here, you may wonder why they can get their salary raisement, there are 3 main reasons through our analyzation.

First, the previous salary didn’t match your experience and skills. In our previous cases, most offered salaries for mid-careers have not been lower than around 3.0M yen. Also, this is just my feeling but if you have some working experience, your offered salary is likely to be 3.5M yen or more. it means that the salary doesn’t match the marketing standard.
Also, the balance of the salary and experience is quite important. There are some cases, for example, after working in a company for a few years, your salary is not raised according to your growth.

Second, having special demanded skills. In terms of technical skills, a lot of companies and positions require AI skills such as machine learning, image recognition and so on. Also, the cloud services such as AWS, GCP are required a lot. Some rare languages such as Go, RxSwift, Kotilin and so on are demanded as well. It is also seen as a plus to express your interest in learning new things. Apart from the technical skills, management experience is also very important. When companies hire as a mid-career, they would like to hire a person who can manage or lead a team. Generally, if you would like to make your salary above 600 man yen, you need not only technical skills but also management skills.

Third, transferring to a big company or a growing company. In general, larger companies can offer a higher salary. So if you have already obtained certain skills and you are ready to apply for a big company, this is also an option to get a higher salary. On the other hand, some start up companies which are growing rapidly can also offer high salary. Also for your career, it is not a perfect solution to join a big company because your role can be very limited. So it is better to be careful about this point.

To summarize, it happens a lot that your salary doesn’t match your experience somehow. It is caused by so many factors such as your role in your company, your IT skills such as programming skills, knowledge of frame work, data base, net working, cloud services and so on. Also your Japanese skills and your mindset is one of the factors. Not only the personal issues, it happens because of the size of company or situation of the company, like growing rapidly or not.

Is that true? Actual cases of previous candidates

Many of you may doubt the reasons above. So in this part, we will introduce more about the actual job transition cases through our company.

Case 1. A full stack engineer with 3 years experience
Main Skills: PHP in back-end, and HTML, CSS in front-end
Japanese: middle of N3

※When I say "middle of N3", this means that the candidate's Japanese speaking level is around the average level of N3. Japanese companies ask for detailed information on the candidates' Japanese speaking level. Therefore we evaluate the Japanese speaking level, not just based on their certificates but also by actually talking to them, and categorise such as "medium N3" or "upper N2".※

Due to the job change, he could raise his salary by 0.6M yen/year.
The Reasons:
He transferred to a bigger company
He could match his experience when he joined the new company

Case 2. A ruby engineer with 6 years experience who has a team leading experience
Main Skills: Ruby, Ruby on rails,Go
Japanese: upper level of N3

Due to the job change, he could raise his salary by 1.5M yean/year
The Reasons:
He had a management experience
He joined a growing start-up company

Case 3. A project manager with development experience
Main skill:C#, PHP, Java, HTML
Japanese:upper level of N2

Due to the job change, he could raise his salary by1.0M yen/year
The Reasons:
He had skills in both engineering and management
He had good knowledge in AI

※Actually he had obtained other offers which were higher than it, but he decided to join this company. The reason was because the company wanted him to be not only a project manager but also a key player in expanding their business. He thought it was more challenging than working in other companies, so he joined this company.※

Summary of the possibilities to increase your salary

Let me summarize the possibilities to increase your salary.
Firstly, if your salary seems not match your experience, you have a possibility to increase your salary.
Second, Have enough experiences and skills to step up. if you are working in a small company or an outsourcing company which can not pay high salary, and you are ready to move to a big or growing company with certain experience and skills, this is also an option to increase your salary. In the previous case I showed, even though they used to work in a normal company, they were able to increase their salary because they joined a big company or a growing company.
Third, if you have some experience of project manager or team leading, other companies will be really interested in you. This is because most companies would like to hire a person who can be managing a team for mid-career recruiting.
Fourth, if you have knowledge of newest trendy technology, you will find a company where you can utilize it. Especially in our offers, the number of position related to AI such as machine learning, image recognition, natural language processing and so on. Even though you can not utilize what you are leaning immediately, you can express that you have a will to learn new things and you are the motivated person.
Finally, Japanese skills. In an ideal world, all Japanese companies should have the capacity to accommodate non-japanese speaking employees. However, we do not live in an ideal world. In our experiences, it sometimes or often happens that the candidates couldn’t get an offer because the companies didn’t have the capacity for them who has some difficulties to communicate in Japanese. So at first, I think it would be good for you to try internal communication in Japanese in order to have more opportunities. Additionally, if your Japanese skills are very advanced, and you can interact with external clients in Japanese internal, you can take another role and it would open up career paths.

Things you can do

Is it easy to judge whether your current salary matches your experience or not?

Even for us, it is not easy to judge whether your current salary matches your experience or not because the skills are very complicated to be determined. This is why we usually ask a lot of questions to make sure your experiences, skills, that we can not read from your resume. Also we try to tell your mindset to the companies that you would like to join. There is a limit to show all information about you through your resume, so we would like to help in telling your great points to the companies. Also, for your future goal in your career, we can discuss about your future goal and we may be able to introduce suitable positions to step up so that you can achieve your career goal in the future.

Things you can do to pursue your career
Finally, we would like to give you small advise that you can do from today or from right now for your future career.

No.1 Gain experience.
For IT engineers, I think you have two ways for your future career basically, one is to be a technical specialist and another is to be a manager.
To be a specialist, first of all, gain experience. It is too obvious to tell you but gaining experience is the fastest way to obtain deep and wide knowledge and skills.
And to be a manager, gain experience in team leading. I think you already understand that management experience is very important for your career. If you are looking for a manager position in your next career, you should gain this experience in your current company first. So, to get a chance to be a leader, you should express your interest to your supervisors because if you don’t, they won’t realize that you are interested in it.
No.2 Learn new things. I think this is a very important thing, not only IT engineers but also all engineers such as civil engineer. In particular, the things are rapidly changing in IT fields, so you need to keep learning new things otherwise you will be left behind.
No.3 Improve your Japanese. As I told you, if your Japanese skills is improved, you have more opportunities in the job market in Japan. Also, if you aim higher position such as manager, you need Japanese skills because you will have a lot of situations to communicate with stakeholders and clients in Japanese. Of course, if you improve your Japanese, I think it is also good for your daily life in Japan.

Be careful about your desired salary!

Just one more thing, we would like to tell you. We already showed successful stories and actually more than 90% of the candidates could achieve their salary increase compared to the previous salary. However, about half of candidates couldn’t achieve their desired salary. Of course, we would like to support you to obtain the desired salary, but we sometimes tell you that your desired salary is too high. The reason is that you may lose your possibility if you show the desired salary which is too high in the Japanese market. Even though the company really like you, they may give up to hire you if your desired salary is too high. We would like to avoid that situation.

So when you would like to apply for a new opportunity, I think it is better to be careful about this point. Also, if you contact us, we can share our experience so far and we can discuss about how to set your desired salary.

Reference: Range of Offered Salary

※The salary offered under 3.0M yen/year is for new graduates.

Finally, we would like to show the actual offered salary including all the cases.
As you can see, we can support most of you from new graduates to executive level.

We are a recruitment agency which specializes in the recruitment of foreign talents in Japan. Mixess(mixess.jp) is also under the operation of JELLYFISH, Inc.. This recruitment business starts in 2015 and since then we have supported career changes only for foreign talents. Currently positions for engineers we have includes software engineer, infrastructure engineer, AI engineer, project manager and so on. We also provide multi-language support and visa support.

Hope this article will help you pursue a better career in Japan and also if you are looking for job opportunities, don’t hesitate to contact us!

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