The Effective Way of Screening a Japanese Sushi Chef’s Resume

In the process of hiring a chef, the person’s resume is the first thing you review. Compared to other countries, Japan has a unique way of writing a resume that reflects the national character. If you misread a resume created by a Japanese candidate, you may not have a successful screening. As we have seen a great number of Japanese chefs’ resumes and CVs,, we will show you how to review skills from the text alone.

1.  Differences between Japanese and Overseas Resumes

What Is Included in a Standard Resume in Japan?

In Japan, you can buy a resume form at places like a convenience store. All you need to do is fill in the form by providing basic information, such as name, address, date of birth, education, work history, licenses, hobbies, and reasons for applying for the job. Usually, the Japanese resume does not provide detailed descriptions of the past jobs. On the other hand, an applicant who has worked at a restaurant abroad knows what information a hiring manager is looking for on a resume and may prepare a document that elaborates on the past roles and the details of the jobs.

Why Aren’t Japanese People Good at Showing Their Skills on a Resume?

Japanese people have tended to prefer a screening that emphasizes personality rather than skills. In addition, they do not find it a virtue to speak highly of oneself. So, many Japanese sushi chefs still find it difficult to boast their skills on their resume or CV. In order to successfully screen applicants, you need to speculate what jobs they had and what skills they possess from the limited amount of information on the document.

2. Work History and Job Descriptions

What the Past Career Tells

First, you can tell the applicant’s career orientation from the work history. Check the business type of the past employers, the applicant’s position, and working hours. For example, if an applicant for a high-end omakase sushi restaurant has worked at similar places before, we can easily know that the person wants to continue his or her career in the same line of business. If the applicant has worked at various types of restaurants, such as izakaya, Japanese restaurant, sushi restaurant, Italian restaurant, and sushi restaurant again, the person may not have figured out what career to pursue or may be trying to obtain diverse experiences before opening a restaurant in the future. The reason for such a career choice should be confirmed at the interview.

The experience of working outside Japan is another factor to take into account when you hire a Japanese chef for a restaurant overseas.

What Past Employers Tell

A Japanese chef’s resume may show the name of the company that manages the restaurant or that of the restaurant itself. If you can tell the restaurant’s name, you should be able to search it online and get a sense of its business type, menu, target customers, the number of the seats (the size of the restaurant), spending per customer, and the applicant’s experience as opening staff.

What Job Descriptions Tell

As mentioned above, a Japanese chef’s resume can show only the names of the restaurants (or the companies), work periods, positions, and brief job descriptions. You need to guess details of the jobs from these pieces of information. If the applicant was working at a famous Japanese restaurant with multiple branches and the system that divides roles among the chefs, it can happen that the person has an experience of grilling but not deep-frying. On the contrary, a chef at a small town’s Japanese restaurant may have had a wide range of experiences due to staff shortage. It is difficult to determine the degree of experience with the document alone. Someone who is well versed with restaurants in Japan may be able to get a good idea of the applicant’s skills from a resume, but we still recommend that you have resumes reviewed by those who have hired a Japanese person before so that you can ensure effective screening.

3. Information Other Than Work History

Education

Workers in the restaurant business industry of Japan have diverse backgrounds: their last formal education may be middle school, high school, senmon gakko (professional training colleges), or college. It is natural that chefs’ cooking skills are emphasized more than their education, but in some countries, it can be beneficial to have a college degree to obtain a visa. If one graduated from Chorishi Senmon Gakko (government-authorized culinary training colleges), the years spent there can be counted for work history as well.

It does not mean that graduating from Chorishi Senmon Gakko guarantees the applicant’s skills, but it can tell that the person is willing to establish a career in the industry since he or she is young. Thus, Japanese restaurants tend to proactively hire those newly graduated from Chorishi Senmon Gakko.

Cooking Licenses

The most well-known license among Japanese chefs is “Chorishi Menkyo,” or a chef license. It is issued when one graduates from Chorishi Senmon Gakko or obtains 2 years of work experience and passes a written exam. Licenses for becoming a sake sommelier or for preparing puffer fish are also popular.

Awards for the Individual or Restaurant

It will also count as a positive factor, if the applicant received awards, given either for the individual or the restaurant, from official institutions, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, or prestigious media outlets of the industry (like the Michelin Guide).

English Speaking Skills

Japanese resumes may list the applicant’s English proficiency, but the measurements can be unfamiliar to the hiring manager, and it may be hard to understand whether the test scores shown are high or not. In general, the person who can communicate in English without a problem scores higher than 70 out of 120 for the TOEFL iBT, 5.5 out of 9.0 for the IELTS, 600 out of 990 for the TOEIC, or Grade 2 for Eiken, whose highest rank is Grade 1.

In this way, you can estimate various skills from the text of the resume. Yet, in order to learn about the applicant’s personality and motivation or see if you get along with him or her, we recommend that you schedule an interview if the resume catches your attention.

4. What If I Have a Problem in Hiring?

“I do not know what my restaurant should feature to attract Japanese chefs.”

“I have an idea of the chefs I am looking for, but I do not know how to find them.”

“We tried to recruit on our own before without success, so we want to find a truly skillful chef this time.”

“Since no staff members speak Japanese, we want to entrust the whole task of hiring Japanese chefs to someone else.”

If you have a problem in recruiting quality Japanese chefs, feel free to contact us Washoku Agent!

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