Although I think there are other, better resources available for job searching, the well-trodden sites of the Internet are still worth a look; they are often well designed and because of their popularity, new jobs appear on them almost every day.
Today we're going to take a look at Gaijinpot Jobs.
(But, this advice is just as effective at other big job-listing sites, too.)
Most readers have already heard of Gaijinpot Jobs, so I'll keep the site description short: You create a profile on the site, write and save resumes, browse jobs, and send resumes with cover letters. Most of the jobs listed on the site are ESL teaching gigs, from small local schools to corporate giants like Interac. And Gaijinpot's ability to store your resumes means you can apply for a load of jobs with very little effort.
And that right there is what I want to focus on.
Think about it: If you can save one resume and one cover letter and send those off to a dozen companies in five minutes, so can everyone else. So, if you want to get in for an interview, the name of the game at Gaijinpot is quality and speed. Read on...
There are a lot of jobs with similar requirements here (visa, native speaker, TEFL certificate, driver's license, pulse). And there's a glut of people on the site who all fit those same credentials. Within 24 hours of a new job listing at Gaijinpot, it's not uncommon for dozens or even hundreds of people to one-click submit their resume to that company.
Unfortunately, many of the employers aren't so picky. They need to get onto the interviewing phase ASAP and there isn't a lot of time to dredge through two hundred resumes. Instead of waiting around for every resume that comes in before the ad expires, usually they just look at the first resumes to arrive. Once five, or ten, or twenty people who meet the initial requirements are identified, the company proceeds to interviews with this group and ignores all further resume submissions.
(Unless, of course, all five or ten or twenty people interviewed turn out to be duds.)
The point is, there's a very short window of time for you to get your application in. It's much shorter than the actual run time of the ad. You are more likely to get a callback from a company if you can get your resume in fast.
In order to do this, it's best to skim the site itself every day, as you'll see new jobs the instant they've been listed. Next best is to sign up for the daily job e-mail that Gaijinpot offers. I say next best because actually everything in the daily e-mail is going to be about 24 hours old; it's a compilation of yesterday's newest listings. Anyway, check it in your inbox every morning, and immediately apply for any jobs that look interesting. If you wait until the weekend, consider your chance already gone.
But, speed isn't everything. Recruiters know that on sites like these, any doofus with an "Enter" key can instantly submit a resume and a generic cover letter he wrote six months ago.
This means you need to keep your resume up to date, and you need to target it. Gaijinpot's even built a system for you to save multiple versions of your resume, for Pete's sake. Use it! Don't send the same thing to every company. Pick and choose the skills you'll highlight according to the type of job you're applying for! If it's a teaching job, your introductory lines should be about your degree in education and your past experience. If it's for an IT job, talk about your programming language proficiencies and certifications.
Most importantly, for non-teaching jobs, get rid of the teaching related talk! Unless you've worded it to show how your teaching experience has prepared you for the job you're applying for, your statements about "great lesson plans" and "getting along with students" will leave recruiters rolling their eyes as they reach for the delete key.
And finally, in the same vein, you need to write a cover letter for every job you apply for. Generic cover letters are really obvious: "I'm a 27 year old graduate from America. I'm really interested in everything about Japan and I've lived here for three years. In school, I studied..."
This is a bad cover letter because it talks about you. But the company doesn't want to hear about you! You're already attaching a resume full of that information! Your cover letter should talk about the company and position you're applying for. Mention what you know about the field and the company. Use the company's name in the letter. Talk about an experience you've had in the past and why you think it prepared you for this job.
Armed with this mentality, your likelihood of a callback will skyrocket. So get out there, and start customizing your next application. :)