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English Skills Required at Global Companies in Japan

​When you visit job posting sites of global companies, you will never fail to find “English skills” as a requirement. But what level of English and language skills are actually essential in the global workplace in Japan?

Now with our experienced recruiter, let’s take a close look at the English-speaking roles in an International business environment!

What level of English skills are required in the workplace?

Apex offers a wide range of jobs at multinational or Japan’s global companies to job seekers, and with the exception of a few, most of them look for talent with English skills. Especially for management positions regardless of industries, language skills are essential. In the job descriptions, you will find “Business level English," "Fluent in English", "Strong English communication skills” and more, but what level of English skills do they really mean? 

Of course, it varies depending on the positions and companies, but at least the level equivalent to a TOEIC score of 700-730, that is, what you call “basic level of business English '' is required at most organizations. That is within the scope of daily work where you may exchange emails or have a short conversation in English with your non-Japanese counterparts. 

When you talk about “Business English proficiency”, in general, it means the ability to understand both in oral and written English and discuss intricate business topics with little problem, the level equal to 800-830 TOEIC scores or higher. However, TOEIC scores function just as an indicator for language competencies, so job hunters need to prepare for anhere companies determine their communication skills, rather than presenting a TOEIC score. 

What type of tasks require English skills?

“Business level English” that your future companies are asking for frequently means effective communication skills both oral and written. 

So, what does actually “written English” refer to at work? 

Emails are the most common form of written communication in the workplace. Email communications play an important role in sharing information with global stakeholders. So, along with reading competencies, the ability to write and exchange emails appropriate to the business occasions must be mastered. 

Also, the skills to read, understand and review English-written technical/scientific materials, and correctly translate them into Japanese to share the information with other internal stakeholders are frequently desired. Some roles may require you to prepare materials, documents or slide decks both in Japanese and English

While you understand that learning and developing good written communication skills are your must-do for your success, those skills may probably not be overwhelming to many of the Japanese businesspersons, who have had well-established writing and reading skills for so many years. 

How about “oral communication” in English?  

In global organizations, one of the most common types of English-spoken communications is online meetings with a global team. Especially in a management position, the need for collaborating with International counterparts from U.S., EU countries or Singapore where APAC headquarters are almost always located has grown significantly to survive in the complex global economy. Not just being a good listener, but also exchanging information, discussion, presentation or negotiation skills are strongly needed in global collaboration. 

Also, in everyday work at International organizations, you may work with multinational peers to communicate in English. In any case, as a basic premise, English should not be a barrier to work effectively. 

​​Why you can benefit from being a proficient speaker

Again, the required level of language proficiencies varies from company to company and position to position, but there is no doubt that the more seniorthe position is, the higher the level of English skills is required, as they are more likely responsible for English communications including presentation, negotiation, discussion, or documentation. 

On the other hand, some roles at the staff level don't ask you to be able to speak English. Field positions such as sales or customer services may be out of the English-is-needed circle. 

However, there are some exceptions to such roles, such as customer service positions required to communicate with global peers when the manufacturing sites are located overseas. And even if the job that you are hoping to get doesn’t ask for language skills now, they may hire you, hoping that you can work for a global project in the future. English skills very often become a plus at most global companies even if they are not mandatory to apply for.

In any case, English competencies are indispensable for your career progression at global organizations, as being able to advance your chances of promotion, salary increase, or transfer to another department within the organization. Even if a sales staff doesn’t have a chance to use English skills, a director or head of the business unit frequently needs strong English communication skills to collaborate with a global team or internal stakeholders from multi nations, or communicate with global customers. It becomes more inevitable for companies to prefer English-speaking talents to hire, as the chances of global collaborations have been rising regardless of industries. 

Communication is the most important skill that any leaders can possess

As mentioned, it is more than important for the leaders at multinational companies to be able to perform tasks with fluent and accurate English, when working with global stakeholders. But don’t forget that your boss doesn’t value your English skills themselves. English is just a tool at the workplace, and what’s more crucial for you is communication skillsthat include the ability to make others feel comfortable when talking to you, correctly understand the needs or opinions of others, deliver your opinions without conflict, or explain your reasoning and persuade others. 

What matters is the decisions you make, the actions you take, and the results you achieve as a result of communicating in English.

Some of you may not feel confident when speaking English, but the more important must-have attitude is your strong desire for more effective communication with your team to succeed in the project, not being concerned much about language fluency. Some clients often ask us to seek a talent eager to learn business English communications with growth potential in the future, for example, asking for “ the level of ability or willingness to work with your virtual team abroad” as a requirement for the role. 

If you are an English learner still feeling hesitant to talk to non-Japanese speakers, keep learning how to output your language skills for future opportunities. 

How to prepare for English resume and interview

Creating an English resume (CV) is your must-do if you want to get a career at a global company. How to write an English resume is quite different from that of a Japanese one, as you can choose the best format suitable for your career history. There are many ways to customize your resume, so it may be an arduous task for first-timers to develop an English resume.

Apex will provide job hunters with professional support that includes tips on how to write a perfect English resume or chances to make corrections to your resume, so save your time and effort by asking for professional help.

Even after successfully passing the screening process, you will be asked to join a job interview in English, whether it’s the first or later rounds, or a quick English check may start in the middle of the interview. As with the ones in Japanese, the key to success is to prepareas much as you can. 

In recent years, interviewers at global firms tend to use the interview technique, “STAR Method”, to evaluate your fitness for the position effectively, so you should read the article to help you prepare for your perfect interview by learning the tips. 

To land your ideal job, choose the best job change agency to work with you. Japan’s prominent bilingual agency like Apex is your choice when you look for a job at a global firm, as industry-specific recruiters will help you throughout the whole process of the job change.

Save your time and effort to work with a recruitment firm that fully supports you and gives you more time to prepare for your resume or interviews!

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