What we’ve learned about applying for a startup job in Asia

Are you looking for a job particularly in our Asian destinations, Tokyo and Shanghai? Finding a job there can sometimes be hard as the culture of these cities differs a lot from that of ours. They have their own languages, practices, and platforms. This will make your internship an outstanding learning experience, but also complicate the process of scoring one in the first place. We started to open up our operations in Tokyo and Shanghai last spring and have learned a lot during this time. Here are our best tips for job hunting in Asia.


Have a CV
We at Startuplifers believe that your LinkedIn profile works well as your resume. However, in Japan and China LinkedIn hasn’t broken through yet and, for example, Japanese use more Facebook than LinkedIn for professional communication. Therefore, having a pdf format CV can make you a more easy-to-approach candidate.
Add something in the language of the destination to your CV or LinkedIn
If you know any language of the destination where you are looking for a job you should add some keywords or sentences to your CV or Linkedin profile in that language. This does not only help to show your language skills, but also communicate your whole profile in case a reader of your application is not that strong in English. Also, if you are interested in the local culture, show it in your application. It can already take you quite far!
Be polite and respectful
Compared to Finland or San Francisco, professional communication in Asia has still a stronger emphasis on hierarchy and manners even if the startup culture is more casual than the one in the bigger corporations. In our experience, the more international the company is the more relaxed and informal you can be. However, being too polite never hurts your chances!
Don’t be afraid of communication problems
If the company representative is local, the odds are there will be some misunderstanding due to language barriers. Don’t give up after first miscommunication. Be ready to repeat yourself a few times with different expressions.
Be aware of “losing face” culture
Traditionally in Asian cultures, saying directly no or showing that they don’t know the answer to your question is considered as rude behavior. Sometimes getting a proper answer can be a bit hard.
Relationships are everything
Personal connections are super important in Japan and China. In case you happen to know anyone related to the company, ask for intros from them. You don’t need to be best friends with the person who helps you. Even if it is your old boss’s ex-girlfriends’ neighbor, having someone introducing you to the company will help you to get the company to look through your CV properly.

Where to look for a job by yourself?

Asia in general:

  • Tech in Asia – Job postings from startups all around Asia. All the postings are in English.
  • AngelList – A U.S. website that connects the startups with investors and job seekers. A lot of Asian startups, particularly the international ones, are in AngelList.

In Japan:

  • Justa – Recruiting website specialized in startups. Most of the postings are in English so it’s a great website to find international startups and positions
  • Wantedly – Local LinkedIn which has a lot of job postings both in startups as well as bigger companies. Most of the postings are in Japanese.

In China:

  • Chinaccelerator – The China’s oldest incubator has a great recruiting program for its companies. There are also internship positions for more junior talents.  Most of the postings are in English.
  • Linkedin – Some of the international startups use LinkedIn so you can find some suitable positions and startups here

Want to learn about other Lifers’ experiences? Read how Hanyue liked her summer internship in Tokyo!
Missed our application period? Remeber that you can always apply On-Demand. Read our post about the process.

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