If you are considering looking for a part-time job in Japan, a convenience store should absolutely be one of your choices. Not just because of its high demand on labor forces out of Japan's aging population, but also it is a perfect way for foreigners to improve one's language level and understand Japanese culture. If you are an international student, working at a convenience store will absolutely improve your Japanese quickly by using Japanese regularly with co-workers and customers, which means that you can learn Japanese and earn money at the same time.
And shift at convenience stores can range from early morning to midnight so that you can adjust working hours according to your study scheme. In fact, a part-time job at a convenience store is still very popular among international students. More and more other visa holders like Dependent, Spouse of Japanese National, etc. also choose to work part-timely or full-timely at convenience stores.
Seven-Eleven, Lawson, Family Mart and Mini Stop, the four biggest convenience store chains in Japan, are estimated to have 55,300 foreign nationals working at, representing 6.8% of all their employees, while the number is 7.9% for the biggest one Seven-Eleven and 9.7% for the fourth biggest one Mini Stop. Considering Japan's 55,000-plus convenience stores, almost every convenience store has a foreign employee on average.
Part-time jobs are paid per hour and the hourly rate varies depending on the store owner, store location, your experience and shift time. Usually new clerks will be paid the same or little more than the local current minimum wage, which is ¥985 per hour in Tokyo and less in rural areas. The low pay may be one reason for the growing labor force shortage at convenience stores as it makes Japanese people little appetite for the nature of the work.
Possible positions at convenience stores can be kitchen crew, counter staff or store manager. As the majority of foreigners working at convenience stores are international students working part-timely, let's imagine your work content as a part-time student. So you will inform your manager your idle time or even test schedule in advance to have your shift organized. An international student is not allowed to work over 28 hours per week or 40 hours per week during school holidays, so you may work 3 to 5 times every week with a few hours each time. Your work content may include ordering, shipment, checkout, sorting out products and cleaning.
First of all you should be allowed to work at convenience stores by the immigration law, which means that you should hold a residence status based on family status such as Spouse of Japanese National, or obtain a part-time work permission if you hold other working visa or general visa like Student or Dependant. Check your residence card to make sure that you can work part-timely and how many working hours you can engage in.
If no problem with your residence status, basically you are eligible to work at a convenience store if you meet the employer's requirements.
Actually no qualification about the applicant's Japanese language ability is set by companies like Seven-Eleven, instead it is depended on each convenience store owners. Convenience stores run on a franchise system that they are owned and run by independent owners while goods, branding and training materials are supplied by companies. The requirement on foreign employees' language skills will be judged at an owner's discretion considering both work content and how much customers can tolerate non-Japanese workers.
A kitchen crew may have less chance to talk with customers so that foreigners who can only speak basic Japanese may also be fine. But a store manager is required to deal with customers, stock shelves and process bill payments and insufficient language skills can cause troubles for the store and bring stress to the clerk.
Customers in areas of urbanization tend to be more tolerant of foreign workers as they have more chances to interact with people from other countries, while potential applicants will be held to higher language-proficiency standards outside of urbanization. Foreign clerks working in Lawson stores in Tokyo is close to 20 percent, in contrast, the figure is only about 5 percent nationwide.
The more you use Japanese at work, the more your Japanese level will be improved. So it is a good choice to apply for a job at convenience stores with lower language requirements first and then change to a high-level one.
It is important that you have already prepared your Japanese resume before stepping into finding one. If you have previous experience in the service industry, don't forget to write it on. To find a job at convenience stores nearby, just visit the store and check the people-wanted poster pasted outside or inside the store. Wage, possible shift, requirements are usually included. You can submit an application directly to the manager of the store and will be contacted for an interview if eligible for the job.
Or to check job openings nationwide on the Internet. To apply for a job at the four biggest chains, you can access the employment page on their website to select working area, desired position and then submit for an application. However it may be a problem that these pages are usually in Japanese.
Or you can search job offers on job search websites like Quick Jobs Japan, which is specialized for foreigners to find part-time jobs in Japan. Thousands of job openings from different categories all over Japan are posted and updated, and you can easily filter jobs at convenience stores by selecting Job Category to Convenience store/Supermarket. There are job offers from not only the four biggest chains but also other local stores. Moreover, Quick Jobs Japan shows pages in both Japanese and English, and provides job information for all Japanese levels ranging from no Japanese speaking, to minimum communication level (N5), to native level (N1), which you may find really helpful.