By Dave Mendoza, Master Cybersleuth, a JobMachine Inc. Affiliate Partner
Today â€œSix Degrees From Daveâ€ continues its series of articles focusing upon global perspectives among fellow colleagues in the staffing industry from each corner of the Earth, in the spirit of fostering best practices and understanding. As part of my continuing effort to research perspectives and identify fundamental patterns among recruiters, newspapers and other mediums, and the role of demographics, I have reached out to global staffing leaders and recruiters to inquire on their methods of recruitment, to examine their personal efforts to develop social networking relationships to foster talent pools, and to identify the types of job boards, blogs, user forums, Listservs, etc. particular and useful to their countries, regions and continents. Today another small step forward to initiate a series of inquiries in the hopes that together we can learn from each other.
Again, I thank each of my colleagues in advance for their willingness to confront the questions posed. Your contributions will assist in identifying patterns we can sort together as part of an ongoing discussion. I invite the staffing organizations of Corporate America and Multi-National companies to share in the dialogue.
(*** INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING? If you are an overseas staffing professional, and wish to be interviewed as part of this series to share your perspective, please email me at ldavemendoza @ gmail.com)
Tokyo, Japan – Seventh In A Series, Part 1
Gary Bremermann lives and works in Tokyo, Japan. Gary has been recruiting as a third party recruiter for 6 years in addition to accumulating over 22 years of Japan business experience. He specializes in recruiting talented bilingual advertising and marketing professionals for international firms and he is also building a niche practice in the business (non-engineering) side of mobile technology. As a side project Gary is developing www.powerupenglish.com, which is currently in Beta and will go full-version this month. Ever the entrepreneur passionate about his adopted industry, Gary is also developing a candidate lead generation site here: www.garybremermann.com.
Gary has been married for 13 years with his wife, Miki. They met in San Diego, California when she was a student there. Gary and Miki and their six year old daughter, Maya really enjoy exploring Tokyo and, though theyâ€™ve been grown accustomed to its surroundings over the last 8 years, the Bremerman family still finds new and interesting places to explore in the fascinating city of Tokyo.
Garyâ€™s native language is English, and is likewise fluent in Japanese and Spanish. He grew up in San Diego and could see Mexico from his home, inspiring a life long passion in foreign languages and cultures and that is what brought Gary to Japan â€“ a man with global aspirations, and he has been working in or with Japan throughout his entire professional career.
Gary was introduced into the world of recruitment unexpectedly. He was a senior manager for a magazine in Tokyo called Japan Inc www.japaninc.com and the company that owned the magazine also owned an online/offline recruiting business www.daijob.com . The magazine was flying high during the .com boom but when things started slowing down in 2001 the owner asked Gary to manage their offline recruiting business. A neophyte to the staffing world, but exposed to its industry circles, Gary interviewed owners of recruitment businesses who were advertisers to the magazine, – in the process, four of his interviewees offered Gary a job. He accepted one of them, which wasnâ€™t DaiJob. That was in 2001 and Iâ€™ve never looked back. I feel like I finally found my calling. Gary describes the experience as â€œone of the best things that ever happened to me.â€ He joined one of Japanâ€™s oldest (since 1969) recruitment firms, Executive Search International www.esijpn.com and then followed the Managing Director to his new firm AdMark Japan shortly thereafter. In December 2004 Gary joined Robert Leonard, Japan, where he admiringly speaks of it as a place he â€œhopes to be at for a long, long time.â€
Professional recruitment is still in the frontier days in Japan and Gary Bremermann, my friends, would love to play a role in helping the profession develop in his adopted home of the â€œRising Sun.â€
What countries are you accountable for?
â€œI focus solely on Japan, though I have made a senior placement of a Japanese bilingual who was posted in Beijing. The majority of international jobs in Japan are located in Tokyo with Osaka being a distant second.â€
How is culture a factor in the hiring practice different from other countries you recruit from?
â€œIâ€™ve only recruited in Japan, but from much of the material I study on recruiting (including Six Degrees from Dave) I notice some key differences.
One, is that Japanese candidates are usually cordial but extremely suspicious about recruiters. They are very reluctant to share information without establishing a deeper relationship of trust, which often includes meeting face-to-face before getting a CV. Personal referrals always work better than cold calls.
Another major cultural factor is that most offices here are â€œopen planâ€ where senior managers are out in an open office surrounded by their subordinates, so when cold calling their office they are never able to speak openly. We have to get a mobile number and/or email address in order to set up a private conversation. In the U.S. where most senior managers have their own offices, itâ€™s easy to get them to close the door for a conversation.
Finally, until recently, changing jobs was often looked down on as a very negative thing. There is a lingering impact from this cultural perception. Lifetime employment is definitely no longer a major factor here, but people still are very careful about changing jobs.â€
Do you recommend any specific books to gain a broader understanding of Japanese Culture?
“I strongly recommend “Japanese Business Etiquette: A Practical Guide to Success With the Japanese” (Paperback) by Diana Rowland. Iâ€™ve met Diana and she knows her stuff. Sheâ€™s not too shrill about things and gives points on where foreigners have wiggle room and where they donâ€™t. Also, I recommend Rochelle Kopp’s website Japan Intercultural – it is very informative, however a lot of it is in Japanese.”
Where is Japan ahead of the USA in certain recruitment tactics?
â€œI would say that Japan is still in the â€œfrontier daysâ€ in terms of recruitment practices and, though I donâ€™t know much about the U.S. and Europe, I would say as a profession weâ€™re definitely behind the curve in adopting new tactics and leveraging technology.â€
What networking groups are available and influential within Europe as a whole and within your country in particular?
â€œOnline for bi-lingual talent, LinkedIn seems to be the best SNS for identifying and connecting with talented Japanese professionals who are potential candidates. XING, Ecademy, Ryze, etc. are a distant second.
Offline, there are no recruitment industry organizations that I know of in Japan. As I am primarily focused on recruiting bi-lingual Japanese for multinationals in Japan, I may be missing a Japanese-only organization, but recruiters here tend to keep to themselves and seem to have little interest in collectively raising the profile and professionalism of the industry.â€
What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?
â€œIâ€™ve not had any formal training. Once or twice a year a U.K. based training organization runs a seminar here, but I study the work of three people: Lou Adler, Scott Love, and Gary Stauble. I read their books and online material. Iâ€™d be interested in doing the Morgan Method training and someday may travel to the U.S. to do a training.â€
What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career? What inspires You as a Recruiter?
â€œThe single event was getting a candidate a US$300,000 offer 60 days into my recruitment career. The deal fell through, and in hindsight I always think â€œIf I knew then, what I know nowâ€¦.â€. That experience has led me to be constantly working on my skills as a recruiter. I am fully committed to constant incremental improvement, know as â€œkaizenâ€ here in Japan.
I am inspired by the many interesting people I meet. Whether I close a deal or not, I am energized by the positive contacts with great people every day. When I do close a deal, nothing inspires me more than when Iâ€™m contacted by a candidate 6 months, a year, etc. after theyâ€™ve joined a new company and they thank me again and tell me how happy they are in the new job. That definitely keeps me going through some of the inevitable dips along the way.â€