Like most English-speaking foreigners in Japan, most of us on the JapanVisitor team also started out as English teachers, so we’d like to share a little of our experience and wisdom regarding finding a satisfying and rewarding English-teaching job in Japan.
Firstly, there are more opportunities in big cities than elsewhere in Japan, and the conditions of work in big cities will often be better. If you want to teach English in Japan for the Japanese experience, then you probably won’t mind where you end up (one of us started off on Sado Island!). While big cities like Tokyo and Osaka offer (often) better pay and more convenience, the boonies offer a more immersive Japanese experience and generally much cheaper accommodation.
Secondly, looking at ads on websites and waiting for something that looks good to come up won’t, alone, do it. It worked better up to a couple of decades ago when the idea of coming to Japan was something of a rarity, but globalization has made its mark since then, and the ratio of supply to demand is higher than it used to be.
Scouring ads should, of course, form part of your job seeking effort, but the major part of it should be undertaken on your own initiative.
The best place to start is with your CV and a cover letter, preferably in both English and Japanese. They want to know you can write good English, and going the extra mile to write in Japanese can only look good, and can only help you when the administrative staff dealing with your application don’t speak English.
Then you should select your target area (whether geographical or vocational) and get lists of addresses and contacts of all the establishments you think you might want to work at, and then some more. To do this, you will need to surf the web in Japanese if you really want to maximize your chances.
Once you have printed out all your address labels, you should launch a full-scale mass mailing of your CV and cover letter by Japan Post (you'd be surprised how many older Japanese don't use email) and/or fax.
The greater number of CVs you send out, the greater your chances of landing the ideal teaching job (or any job, for that matter) in Japan. You will have to devote several days to this task - the sky is the limit, but as with anything, the more ventured the more gained.
In the meantime, if you see anything advertised, you should respond with your CV as well.
Further tips for finding a job in Japan
Teaching English in Japan: Finding Work, Teaching, and Living in Japan (Buy this book from Amazon)
Inside Track Japan For Kindle