Know your rirekisho

These entries will show you how to write a 履歴書 (rirekisho), a Japanese-language resume and arguably the most commonly required document when applying for a job in a Japanese company.

I’ve tried to make this walkthrough as user friendly as possible, but by the very nature of the subject matter, I have to assume on the part of the reader at least a basic knowledge of Japanese. If you run into anything unfamiliar, copy-and-paste the term into an online dictionary like Yahoo Japan, or throw whole chunks of text into


The rirekisho is roughly analogous to the resume/CV, but there are some important differences. For one thing, there’s an incredible emphasis on past schooling — educational background usually begins at the elementary school level (though in actual fact, you can get away with beginning from junior high). In either case, be prepared to start digging up information on your old alma mater.

Before we begin, I’d like to bring up two things often said about the rirekisho:
・It must be handwritten
・You must buy a special form from a stationery shop or convenience store

These simply aren’t true. Not anymore.

Traditionally, yes, the rirekisho is handwritten (the rationale being that handwriting can give prospective employers an insight into their applicants). However, the advent of e-mail and online recruiting has changed that, to the extent that if you’re serious about finding a job, you have to be able to send your information electronically. This isn’t to rule out the possibility that you might encounter a hard-nosed employer who will demand your rirekisho be written by hand, but is it the norm? No.

As for the “special form,” rirekisho templates are in fact freely available for download. They are also, thankfully, rather standardized. The template offered here is your average, honest-to-goodness rirekisho.

If you’re still reading this and are ready for more, proceed to the next entry.


One Response

  1. […] or his disdain of… well, just about everything, but rather his most educational entries, Know your rirekisho and Writing the […]

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