In Japan, there is a standard format for resumes/CVs. It's called a 履歴書 (rirekisho), and employers outside of the ALT and Eikaiwa arenas often require that applicants prepare a resume in this format.

Traditionally, applicants are supposed to fill every resume out by hand, so the employer can see that you specifically poured time into the application for his or her company. A handwritten resume also serves as a way for employers to peek at the quality of your handwriting. (And trust me, your application will be judged on this fact; if you proceed to the interview phase of hiring, almost every Japanese employer will make a comment about how they felt about the handwriting on your resume.)

Blank resume forms can be purchased at any convenience store, and often at department stores and grocery stores, too. They shouldn't cost more than 10 or 20 yen per sheet.

Or, you can print your own resume forms. We've hosted forms in a couple formats here at AccessJ:

When you buy a form at a convenience store, it will usually be an A3-size sheet of paper so the whole resume can be contained on one side of one sheet. However, since most people don't stock A3 printer paper at home, we've included files here in which the form is split in half across two A4-size sheets. 

If you plan to send out a lot of resumes, you can type up the information on your computer before you print it out. I also opted to add my photo to the resume file so it would print out as part of the resume. (If you don't do this, you'll need to paste a passport-size photo on each resume you send out.)

Most of the resume can stay constant for every job application: Your name, contact information, educational history, and certification aren't going to change. (In Japan, it's common to list all certifications on a resume, even if some of them have nothing to do with the job you're applying for.) But, you need to tailor the 志望動機 (shibou douki - "motivation for applying") and 自己PR (jiko PR - "self introduction & promotion") sections for every job you apply for. These are the things that Japanese employers are reading very carefully to find out whether you really know what kind of work you're applying for and whether you're really interested in the field.

(By the way, sometimes the 自己PR field is called 特技・趣味 (tokugi, shumi) or 得意な科目 (tokui na kamoku). Regardless, your content should be the same, because purpose of the field is fundamentally the same: to tell why you, with your abilities and interests, are ideal for the position.)

Again, traditionally these resumes are supposed to be hand-written: If you get accepted to a job interview, or if you're hired for the job, the employer may ask you to, retrospectively, rewrite your resume by hand and send it in. When they ask this, they aren't necessarily asking you to change the content. Having a handwritten resume on file is just part of "fitting in" with Japanese corporate culture.

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