Are you a Startup planning to enter Japan? If you are planning a Japan entry then for sure you will be planning to hire employees locally. Japanese recruiting is a completely different ball-game than most of the other countries.
According to a report by Nikkei Asia, it was found that 114 companies in Japan went bankrupt due to a shortage of labor in 2017. And it is not that Japan does not have qualified talent. Japan has a large and highly educated workforce and there are millions of people in Japan who seek to change their employment every year, so there is a potential pool of great talent for you to tap into in the country. However, hiring in Japan can be very challenging and for that reason it is very important to understand the difficulties, there reasons and then seem how we can make it less painful.
Challenges in Recruitment in Japan
1) Need for bilingual capabilities – Less than 10% of the workforce speaks English.
2) Aging population and hence the shrinking workforce
3) Traditional life-time employment practice where people tend to work for the same company for whole of their working life, in the big Japanese companies
4) Reluctance to take risk. And yes, a job change always comes with a certain amount of risk
What can a Startup do?
Recruiting in Japan is very different than most of the other countries. And being a Startup making an entry in Japan, it could be highly challenging for you. As in year 2020, the ratio of open position to job-seekers is 1.6. This offers very limited choice to an employer.
Following are some tips for you to improve your Japanese recruiting chances to hire efficiently:
Do not have very rigid requirements for the skill-set. Even if a parson matches 70% to 80% of the requirements, it is worth considering the candidature, especially if you are looking for a bilingual candidate. With the right attitude, an employee can soon pick up and learn what he or she lacks.
The flexibility is not only required for the skill-set but also for the age grouping. Do not be very rigid about the age group, if the position absolutely does not need a particular age range. For example, you may need someone with 1-2 years of experience, but why not give the fresh graduate a chance, and train them in the necessary skills for that particular job? On the other side, please consider the fact that in Japan it is very common for people to work till 70 years of age and in many cases beyond that.
English speaking is not common in Japan. With less than 10% of the workforce speaking English, Japanese recruiting for a bilingual candidate with the right skill-set, in the right age group may prove to be like finding three-legged person, not that you would ever need that though.
It is always recommended to be as flexible as possible for the English fluency requirements. If a person can read and write enough to communicate, he or she may improve their spoke fluency, once they are in an environment where English is used regularly. In any case, please not that all the real work will always be only in Japanese. English is merely used to communicate with foreigners. And in case that kind of communication is absolutely necessary – say for IT offshoring kind of model, then consider using translators and interpreters.
Japanese Love Brands
The Japanese are the world’s largest individual consumers of luxury brands and were the driving force behind the exponential growth of the European luxury industry. Branding is very important in Japan. If you are a Startup, it is very important, how you present your company to show the brand image to attract the right talent. Remember that on one hand you will be competing with the big and reputed Japanese mega-companies and on the other hand with the established foreign multinationals. Think as to why a person should opt for joining you and make a story-line based on that.
Current benefits and Future Career Path
This point is valid for any county to attract the talent. However, in Japanese market it becomes more important, considering the shortage of workforce. Right from the Job Descriptions to the interview stage, you need to carefully mention the benefits, in terms of salaries, learning curve, working environment & culture, work-life balance and the future prospects.
Shorten your interview process as much as possible. You can do it be combining phases of the interviews as much as possible. How much time you take from receiving the resume to making an offer, can make all the difference. Keep in mind that any good bilingual candidate would have multiple competitive job offers at any point of time, he or she decides for a job change. While for a company the average time to fill a position can be 90 days to 110 days, for a good bilingual candidate, it can be a matter of a couple of weeks to get a good job.
Hiring in Japan can be stressful, demanding and very different from what you may be used to, especially if you are not familiar with Japanese recruiting practices. Keep the above tips in mind to make your hiring process a smoother one.