Getting a job at a Japanese startup

Photo of Paul McMahon

Paul McMahon

Founder of TokyoDev

At the last Hacker News Tokyo Meetup, I met Paulo, who is the lead software developer at Crowdcast, a Japanese startup with a product, bizNote that makes small business accounting easier. As it turns out, Paulo had earlier found this blog, and we had talked about how to find a job in Japan. Paulo was looking to find a job at a Japanese startup, and he accomplished that objective, so I thought talking a bit about his experiences might help other readers.

Why did you decide to work in Japan?

I have always been interested in Asian culture in general, with both interests specifically in China and Japan. Having visited Hong Kong five years ago, I had decided that I would leave London once I had some work experience that made me worthwhile for a company to sponsor a visa.

Last year I finally visited Tokyo twice, and both my girlfriend and I decided that we would like to live here. The job market for expats is currently in demand and finding a position at a good startup isn’t as difficult as other countries. The general start up market right now is also starting to grow, so its a good opportunity to join at the start of the boom and make a name for yourself.

When you were searching for jobs, were you still abroad?

I was searching from London. Everyday I looked at different job boards to see if any new positions had been advertised. It’s pretty difficult to hunt down jobs as most companies do not use job boards so actively searching for startups in town is a good bet. Sometimes they have their own careers page and you get lucky, or others you just have to get in touch with them and ask if they have any positions available.

Then it comes the difficult task of interviewing via Skype! Mostly at a fairly awkward hour for anyone in London at a full time job. Its difficult and can take a while. It took me six months, but in the end I had maybe fifteen interviews with different companies including Cookpad and Rakuten at the larger end, and companies with two people at the smaller end!

Why was Crowd Cast a good match? What did you like about them and why do you think they hired you?

Crowd Cast was a good match for me in terms of the size. I had previously worked on the agency side (advertising) and for the last three years I had been at a conversion agency that was a start up. We went from three people to twelve, and no clients to some of the biggest names, not only in the UK but internationally. I felt that my experience in conversion, startup culture, and want for moving from the agency side made a good match with Crowd Cast. I also liked the fact that we currently had no in-house development team, and I would be able to shape the development of the company and department.

I guess they hired me for the same reasons I wanted to work with them. I had pretty good startup experience, big connections and ties to Japan (my girlfriend had moved here in April, though I was in London until October, and I had many friends in Tokyo) meant that I was less risky than other overseas candidates. This along with my experience in conversion and the overall business side of running a startup made me fairly compatible with their needs.

Can you tell me a bit more about Crowd Cast?

Crowd Cast is a small startup that has been around for a few years. However in the last six months we have started to bring development and project management in house. I am the first international team member, however everyone in the company speaks English and have worked at multinationals such as Microsoft and LINE. We have some really talented members already and are looking to expand. We are looking to expand with international members because this give us a better opportunity to find more talented individuals with good industry experience.

The working conditions are very welcoming here and can be even more welcoming than western companies. We typically work 9-6, though flextime is welcome as long as you are around from 11am to 3pm. We are working from a really great shared office in Shibuya, so we are really centrally located and you get to see and talk to new people everyday.

More about the author

Photo of Paul McMahon

Paul McMahon

Founder of TokyoDev

Paul is a Canadian software developer who has been living in Japan since 2006. Since 2011 he’s been helping other developers start and grow their careers in Japan through TokyoDev.

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