Does age matter?

by George
(Numata, Gunma, Japan)

I am a 53 year old American male and live with my Japanese wife and our young daughter in Gunma. For the last year I have been looking for work in Japan, but I cannot get to the interview stage, although I have a BA degree (US) and two years of grad school in Japan. Aside from 25 years as a business owner, I have two years of teaching experience from when I was a student at Waseda (thirty years ago). I can speak basic Japanese and almost ready to be conversational! I've applied for all levels of teaching English, but keep getting passed by. I have offered to relocate. I do carefully proofread my cover letters and resumes, but after sending out 50 in the last year, I'm wondering what's making me so undesirable?

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Feb 25, 2015
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From the inside of the hiring process NEW
by: George

Working as a direct hire for a Board of Education in Gunma, I've seen the hiring process first hand and reviewed all of the resumes that came in. I've seen great resumes (15%) and a lot of sketchy ones (30%), leaving the rest to the non-native speakers, the inexperienced or the non-residents. The gaijin staff members were asked to review the resumes for their content and make recommendations based on education and experience. In the end, the management made the decision, and a 30-ish male with three years experience was hired from a neighboring prefecture. I'd say it's really important to be in Japan to be seriously considered.

Certain agencies (Interac especially) will hire overseas applicants but be prepared to get financially milked in every way possible (highly marked up visa fees, housing, rental cars, and loans), as that is their business model. Their reputations for the treatment of the new-hires is sad and well-known among those who are already here, hence their welcoming of overseas applicants. Although I naively applied to some of these agencies when I first began my job search, I later learned that having a Japanese-spouse, a home and a car made me undesirable, in that I didn't fit their biz model. Beware!

Feb 03, 2015
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Steve NEW
by: Anonymous

Hi George - Thanks for your interesting insights into persevering with employment with serious Schools teaching English in Japan & people more interested in the substance of a Teacher as opposed to how handsome he is or whatever - I nearly gave up looking after most schools simply did not even bother to write back during the peak application period of 2013/14 - I have been continuing my search more so this season and have had little success as of yet - I am still looking for work in the Gunma, Tochigi area & being so far away its difficult to find the fair-dinkum schools - if you can help in any way I would appreciate it my friend :)

Feb 05, 2014
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UPDATE, 2 years later NEW
by: George

I posted the original portion of this thread, and thought it may help others if I share my continued experience. I had a terrible experience with Nichi-Gakkan since they never came through on their job offer. After telling me I was hired, they never took the next step (a promised training session), and though I tried to follow-up, it was all in vain. I eventually did get a variety of part-time gigs and did okay but had to commute to larger towns, an hour's drive away by highway. I learned that many respondents to the teaching jobs are not necessarily native-speakers, but younger and available. Some eikaiwas hire based on photos, and a 20-something girl from the Philippines or Germany had a better shot than me when it came to the beauty contest approach.

But my employers were serious, gaijin, and were looking for solid experience over young faces. After a year of part-time gigs, I finally got a call from a local school district and was offered a direct-hire full-time position, which I am now happily doing, and all is going well.

So it took two and a half years to get settled, but it has finally worked out. In retrospect, I'd recommend avoiding the franchise schools, but instead apply to the smaller local schools owned by fellow gaijin. They pay better and are not inclined to be a lesson mill.

Jul 09, 2012
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Thanks George
by: Steve

Thanks George for your encouragement and your suggestions. I still haven`t found anything but I have tried ECC & Nichii Gakkan thanks for that. Its so difficult & frustrating being so far away from Gunma. I know I have a better chance if I am there but I have to keep earning money in Australia and apply from afar, very difficult situation.
If you have any futher suggestions or hear of anything going please let me know.

Jun 05, 2012
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The News
by: Anonymous

George happy to hear that good news! I think a lot of us older folks will find the same. I think as you say, for some jobs, people over 45 will be preferred. I am now 49 and I know for some jobs that is a great age, for others perhaps not.

Apr 04, 2012
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Never say never
by: George

I am pleased to say that I did finally find a full-time teaching job in Maebashi, about 40 minutes from my home. I've also found a few gigs here and there where it seems my age and marital status was preferred over the 'party' age.

I would encourage Steve (in Gunma) to inquire with Nichi-Gakkan and ECC with whom I've had positive experiences despite my 'elder' status! Although, I think being in Japan is a requirement to get an interview.

Apr 04, 2012
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Message to George
by: Steve

Hi George
I also have been trying to locate work in Gunma for nearly a year now but no luck as of yet.
The company I worked for previously the work dried up after 3-11 so I had to return back to Australia - You are very lucky to still be there and I am envious of you so don`t give up - I am 45 years of age but I never give up - I regularly send resumes off nearly everyday just for that small chance that something is out there so I can return to my Japanese family - Don`t give up George !

Dec 15, 2011
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Good advice
by: george

Thank you Kevin, your advice is well received.

Dec 14, 2011
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What I would do
by: Kevin R Burns

Get all dressed up in a suit. Take your resume and visit some schools. Maybe even take your wife along.

Schools out in Gunma would be impressed with that I would think. Are you teaching now anywhere?

It impresses schools more if you are currently teaching- even your own students.

I think you will need to do the face to face approach.

Does age matter?

I think you are finding that it does. Otherwise why not at least give you an interview. However I don`t think it is beyond hope. But schools do seem to hire younger teachers.

Have you tried any universities or colleges?

They like older teachers.

Show them you are a robust, energetic and healthy 53 year old.

I am 48 and have been hired by various institutions but I tended to get those jobs through connections. Once in the door I got dressed up and I gather answered most of the questions right.


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