Working in Japan

Can I negotiate salary offer in Japan? How-to guide

Salary negotiations are one of the most sensitive topics in Japan, and although you don’t want to miss a job opportunity, you may often be in a delicate position that you also want to negotiate your salaries.

In this article, we will introduce whether salary negotiations are possible in Japan in the first place, and the timing and tips when doing so.

Is salary negotiation possible in the first place?

First of all, whether it is a new graduate or a job change is a point. It is very difficult to negotiate salary when you first get a job after graduating from university. I guess this is the same in countries other than Japan. First, because they have little work experience, their market value as a labor force is not high. Second, since hiring new graduates often involves hiring more than one person at the same time (April), it is difficult to give preferential treatment to only one person in Japan. Because it lacks fairness.

On the other hand, salary negotiations when changing jobs are possible. Try to negotiate within the range that is not far from your market value. The answer to your concern: the job offer will not be canceled because of negotiations. However, if the upper limit of the company is lower than your request, it is up to you to decide.

Timing when salary negotiations are possible

Perhaps this is the most important point to understand. Salary negotiations usually take place after receiving a job offer. We call it “Naitei (内定)” in Japan.

Naitei is one of the labor contracts, so if you receive a Naitei, this can not easily cancelled by the company. But you are still able to say no to this.

Flow from final interview until employment

Let’s look at a stereotype of flow until employment.

First chance is of course during the interviews. And the second chance is after you got offer and until you sign the contract.

Which negotiation timing is better for you?

Final Interview: If how much salary you get is the priority no. 1 for you or you have strong wish to get a concrete salary, otherwise you will say no to the job chance. In those case, better to communicate about it at earlier stage.

After Naitei (Offer): This would be the standard negotiation timing. As we wrote in the past (article) personality and work contents are more important in Japan, and if they are good, then they will check the conditions at the next stage. So negotiation chance is bigger after you get “Naitei (内定)”. The risk that your offer is cancelled is also almost zero after Naitei.

Tips how to negotiate salaries in Japan

Last but not least, we’d like to introduce some 3 tips how to negotiate salaries.

Negotiating during final exam

Start negotiating or communicating how much you would like to have:

  • When the interviewer informed about concrete salaries
  • When the interviewer asks you at the last “Do you have any questions?(何か質問はありますか?)”.

Appropriately grasp your market value

If your ideals are too high, the interviewer will perceive a negative image like “overconfidence in own abilities” and “Not able to self-analyze.” The best way to grasp your own market value is to:

  1. register with a job agency and have a career consultant look at it objectively
  2. use the market value diagnosis tool “ミイダス” to check your market value easily online
  3. use a scout-type job change portal and average the amount of the salaries (e.g. リクナビNext or リクルートエージェント)

Miidasu (ミイダス) may be the easiest step to check your market value as all what you need is smartphone.

Source: ミイダス

The another merit of knowing your market value objectively is you can be confident when negotiating salary.

Utilize offers from other comapanies

If there is a higher offer from another company, there is no reason not to use it. That is not a taboo in Japan.

What to do if your negotiation fails, but you’d like to enter the comapny

You tried to negotiate and jack up your salary but rejected by the company. However, you’d like to accept the offer at the end. In this case, tell the following sentence to the company.

I have considered again and I’d like to sign the contract because your xxx and zzz are attractive.

You already got an job offer, so the company will be fine to hear a positive answer from you whatever the reason is.

Yuki Nagahori
BA in German / Japan Country Manager at editorial company → Sales → currently sales planner based in Hamburg, Germany