How to get the most out of LinkedIn in Japan

Chances are you already know about LinkedIn but if you don’t: it’s the world’s largest professional network/social media.
LinkedIn is an excellent networking tool that helps you keep in touch with colleagues and reach out to new connections. LinkedIn also has a very large, global jobs board and is used by recruiters and companies to source new talent.

You can all also find many industry and interest groups throughout the network, in fact TGD began as a group to connect designers in Tokyo on Linkedin! However, there are some key differences between how and who uses LinkedIn in Japan so read on.

International designers

There is a strong international/expat presence on LinkedIn as most designers already use it in their home country before coming to Japan. Within these circles there is really not much difference in it’s use to that in the West.

Searching for other designers by their role
is a great way to make
new contacts

If you’re looking to connect with people you’ve met in Tokyo chances are they will be on LinkedIn. Even if you’re new to Japan and are looking to build your network then searching for other designers by their role is a great way to make new contacts. Most designers will respond positively if you reach out with a connection request and frequently respond to polite messages as well.

Apart from directly searching for people another great way to connect with designers and other professionals in Japan is to find industry and common interest groups. If you look beyond the groups focused purely on design there are many out there focused on business and relations between Japan and other countries.
In my experience, finding a group aligned with your home country and Japan can be a great way to find new business contacts on LinkedIn.

Japanese designers

Within the Japanese community LinkedIn is not such a popular tool for networking.
One of the biggest barriers is that, despite there being a localised Japanese site, most content on LinkedIn is in English so it is largely viewed as a tool for western designers or for recruiters seeking native english speaking candidates.

Japanese employees tend to move between jobs
far less frequently than their western counterparts

There are other cultural barriers at play here. Japanese employees tend to move between jobs far less frequently than their western counterparts and there is a very different attitude to professional networking here.

Interestingly a lot of Japanese designers will use Facebook as a means of connecting with other professionals and coworkers instead of LinkedIn.
In my experience the Japanese designers you do find on LinkedIn will have a more global mindset, having worked overseas or frequently with international clients.

Recruiters

Recruiters are very active in Japan and on LinkedIn I have personally been contacted by several who were seeking new talent.
If you have a strong profile then you will be noticed by them.

In my experience connecting with recruiters on LinkedIn can be both good and bad. Some are looking to fill current positions and will say so outright, so if you are looking for a job – great! However, may be seeking to gain access to your network and contacts so be wary of those who approach you without a specific role.

Jobs

There are quite a few design jobs in Tokyo advertised on LinkedIn and it pays to check every day as new opportunities appear and disappear quickly. The roles advertised tend to be more focused on digital work than anything else.

For the reasons mentioned earlier, there are not many jobs posted from Japanese companies. Largely the positions offered are in the Japan office of international businesses. These companies are frequently looking for bilingual English/Japanese candidates whose role will be not only designing but localising international content to the Japanese market or vise versa.

Large companies, such as, Rakuten, Amazon, Google, and Facebook , advertise frequently on LinkedIn. A wide range of smaller companies looking for designers also advertise for individual roles now and again.

Mostly you will find inhouse, or client side, design roles advertised. Large agencies such as Dentsu occasionally post to LinkedIn but generally studios and agencies tend to post most of their jobs on their websites or reach out to contacts through their networks.

Getting the most out of LinkedIn

So now that you know how LinkedIn works within Japan, here are a few tips from the TGD staff to help you optimise your profile.
Keywords are key, if you write your profile with SEO in mind then you will appear more often in more searches,

Be descriptive
in your job titles,
use keywords

Be descriptive in your job titles so that viewers understand your job history.

Instead of written paragraphs, use short lists of keywords detailing your responsibilities in each role.
Don’t be repetitive in your use of keywords!

Try to find secondary terms to describe similar responsibilities. This will make it more interesting for the reader.

Write your ‘summary’ in both English and Japanese.

Linking to your folio/website is better than uploading images.

Always include a clear profile picture of you. In Japan your resume must include a photo of you and your LinkedIn profile should be the same.

Network! Don’t be shy about reaching out to other designers and creatives, follow companies you are interested in working for.

Even without a large Japanese user base LinkedIn is still a very powerful tool in Japan. If you approach it much the same way as you would use it in your home country then you’re on the right track. Good luck!

There are other Japanese language only sites out there similar to LinkedIn which we will review in the months to come. But for those of you looking for work right now check out: Wantedly, Justa, Poole, Standby and Geekly.

And don’t forget to join the TGD group on LinkedIn

TGD WIJ 002 - final

Tim O'Hanlon

Tim is an Australian born Communication Designer with passion for applying design and strategic thinking to all of his work. Tim moved to Tokyo in 2014 and has been working as a freelance designer since. In his spare time Tim loves to travel around Japan hiking, cycling, eating and snowboarding.

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