It’s pretty common for our clients to ask for advice on how they can be competitive in attracting the best talent. The bilingual recruitment market in Japan is particularly tough with the number of open positions vastly outnumbering the amount of available qualified candidates. Here are some steps that we recommend in order to put your company at the front of the queue;
1. Streamline your interview process
One thing which sets Japan apart from many other markets is typically a much longer selection process. Whilst we understand the need for a thorough assessment, so many companies lose candidates because they are simply too slow. It’s unrealistic to have the attitude that “If a candidate really wants to work for us they’ll wait” in a market where even average bilingual candidates will pick up multiple offers.
2. Educate head office (for international companies)
Many candidates do extremely well in local interviews only to fail spectacularly at the final overseas head office interview. Most companies in Japan still hire bilingual Japanese nationals and “bilingual” typically means business-level English. Despite this, the expectation around English level from overseas interviewers can be pretty high. Cultural differences can also play a part, so we strongly advise our clients to manage expectations before interviews take place!
3. Don’t forget to sell!
This may seem basic but culturally in Japan, it’s not uncommon for companies to expect candidates to explain in detail from the outset why they want to join their business whilst forgetting to fully explain the benefits of doing so. It should not be seen as a negative for a candidate to use an interview to really explore your business and see if it’s a good fit. (especially at the first stage!)
4. Scare tactics are outdated
In a truly candidate-short market, gone are the days where any client can deliberately paint an overly bleak picture of the role on offer in order to “test a candidate’s commitment”. Explain the job realistically – whilst still selling the position and your company.
5. Focus some of your PR efforts on internal hiring
At least some of a company’s PR output should be focused on internal hiring, especially companies that don’t have a well-known brand. Candidates in Japan are particularly cautious and a really good “work for us” page, and/or an active Instagram/LinkedIn/YouTube presence can really make the difference.
Of course, as recruiters, we’ll sell your business to the best of our ability, but the more attractive your company looks from the outside the better.
Hope this article helps you. We support companies with market entry, contingency, and retained searches. If you have any questions, please contact us!