Part 2, International Staffing Perspectives: Gary Bremermann, Robert Leonard Consulting Ltd. – Tokyo, Japan
By Dave Mendoza, Master Cybersleuth, a JobMachine Inc. Affiliate Partner
Does your staffing organization DIRECT SOURCE from competitor companies to hire talent?
â€œI am a third party recruiter, so this question may not be relevant to me. In general, YES, direct sourcing from competitors is very common, but companies often turn to us for that.â€
Can you identify specific obstacles of the countries you are responsible for, – particularly in terms of How Japan’s Employment Laws play a factor?
â€œWe have fairly strict privacy laws in Japan and are regulated by the government. 3rd party recruitment firms require a license from the government and part of that process is an on-site inspection of the office to ensure no privacy violations (locked cabinets, separate candidate interview rooms, data security, facility security, etc.). It is not a major hurdle but some companies still operate without a license.
There are no laws forbidding cold calling, so we are free to call whomever whenever we like. As far as I know there are no laws forbidding companies to call direct competitors, though they generally prefer to work through 3rd party recruiters for this.
Probably the biggest way that laws impact hiring/recruiting in Japan is that, like Europe, it can be very difficult to dismiss full-time employees, so it makes companies very careful about hiring full-time employees and the temporary staffing business here is robust and growing. Hiring a full-time employee here is a major commitment, so the evaluation process can be long and drawn out
How are US and Japanese recruitment culture different? How are they similar?â€
Japanese candidates are wary of recruiters that they do not know without having a direct introduction/referral/etc. or that they don’t know of by the reputation of the firm or the reputation of the individual.
I’ve invested a lot of time and energy in branding myself as a recruiter in Japan via my candidate generation website www.garybremermann.com, my Career Consultant newsletter, my PowerUp English website www.powerupenglish.com, public speaking, attending networking events, and I also organize a fun party every two months to expand my network and get the word out about the work I do so that when I do make a cold call its likely that that person knows about me.
I get the impression that candidates in the U.S. understand the recruitment process and are open to hear about opportunities regardless of the source of the contact. Here we’ve got to establish a bond before moving forward with presenting an opportunity.
Which recruitment software tools do you use in your day to day recruitment activities & do they translate effectively within all of the different countries where you recruit?
We use MaxHire and I love it. It doesn’t handle Japanese data as much as we would like, but it works fine for what we do. It allows me to work remotely and that gives me a lot of freedom in where and how I work.
In terms of online tools, Basically, I use Google and online SNS to identify potential candidates.
How many applicants do you estimate are hired from your corporate website as compared to how many are hired through referrals?
Where Are The “Most Hires” collected from? (In terms of Quantity #)
Referrals. I’ve done everything possible (see above) to build a network that is constantly feeding me with a large quantity (and often high-quality) referrals. Because of the importance of trust and the comfort that comes along with being introduced by someone you know, 2nd and 3rd degrees of separation is generally enough to identify the right candidates.
What is the source of your “Lowest Cost Of Hires”?
Referrals and direct contacts via personal network are my bread and butter. Professionals in international advertising and marketing in Japan actually live in a relatively small world, and I usually find that I can reach the people I need to within 2 or 3 degrees of separation. As long as I maintain strong relationships with my front-line 1st degree contacts I can usually get to the right people quickly and at no cost (other than my time).
Whether you are hiring IT engineers, accounting, etc. – is Japanese culture a major factor in the RESPONSE RATE you get when sending an email requesting a CV versus calling the candidate directly at their work? Are they open/eager to sending their CV, are they more shy/cautious or even suspicious depending on the method you use to contact them?
YES, the culture is definitely a factor. Most candidates here don’t like being cold-called due to the office environment (see above about open plan office) and the general cultural unease in dealing with strangers. Email requests work sometime, but emails are often ignored. Itâ€™s never that hard to get people on the phone, but the response rate for getting a CV is quite lowâ€”maybe 1 in 8â€”from the first phone/email contact.
How does the actual selection process proceed once a candidate has been identified and what role does a recruiter in Japan play in the process?
“A good recruiter usually puts forward 3-5 qualified candidates for a position. As it is a candidate-short market, it is generally closer to 3 than 5 (and sometimes we can only squeeze out 1!). At this point the process varies hugely with each specific company, including the role of the recruiter. We’re there from start to finish on most jobs including managing the salary negotiation, final offer, closing etc. but some clients prefer to control the process and keep the third-party recruiter on the sidelines unless needed. It really depends whether the client works with us like vendors or partners. Without trying to sound self-serving, I’ve truly found that the best results come when we work as partners.”
What methods/resources produce the FASTEST amount of time in producing hires (what types of talent?) (Including, but not limited to: newspaper advertisements, Company website, online search engine ads, job Fairs/Open House events, Blogs, online forums, technical websites, social networking sites, etc)
â€œThe fastest hires occur online (via corporate websites & online recruiting portals) simply because people can input their resume instantly, the resume can be screened quickly, and those that do input their resume are active job seekers, technologically savvy, and generally faster movers.
As I do executive search, most of my work is done via working my network and cold calling. We do occasionally use online recruitment sites and find them to be useful for some searches. We have found CareerCross to be the best.
What specific technology tools do you use that produce fastest amount of time in producing hires?
We use MaxHire for our candidate database. The search function is excellent and I can quickly scan the database for appropriate candidates. LinkedIn is another useful tool, though I wish they had an even larger pool of people in Japan registered. And Google is always a trustworthy tool for primary research.
Is it acceptable, or common, in your country’s culture to offer a referral fee for a successful hire to someone who recommended the candidate?
Yes, referral fees are acceptable, both internally in corporations and for 3rd party recruiters to reward a trusted connection who has introduced a candidate that gets placed. For corporate referral programs it is generally a token amount, with the company looking to pay out just enough to get people to participate, but not one yen more.
What are the best job board websites in Japan?
CareerCross: The best by far for bi-lingual talent in all industries
Daijob.com: #2 to CareerCross
Ecentral.jp: Affiliated with the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan
EnJapan: One of the largest Japanese-only job sites
Rikunabi: Another large Japanese only website
There are no major English-language/bilingual recruiting sites that are industry specific as far as I know.
Can you provide a list of specific recommended/effective major associations & conferences and industry-specific website portals, and print media?
â€œFor recruiting bi-lingual professionals, the Monday Japan Times employment section gets the largest volume of advertisements and it is where English speaking Japanese people know to go to look for ads for international companies.
In terms of major associations and conferences in Tokyo as it is one of the world’s largest cities/markets.
What Search Engines in addition to common ones like Google, do you use that are native to the countries you are responsible for? Please Detail with links.
â€œYahoo Japan is by far the largest and most dominant search engine and portal in Japan. I still primarily use Google however because of the accuracy of its search and the search tools.
Do you use blogs specific to each country’s talent within target industries/competing companies?
No I don’t, I use a newsletter for people that visit my website and opt-in. In July I will be launching a blog which ties in with my PowerUp English website, but that is for a global audience.
Which 3rd party agency/ recruitment search firms have you successfully used and would recommend to others for the types of positions (IT, accounting etc) you recruit for?
www.robertleonard.jp of course! 🙂
In Japan the quality of recruitment service is pretty spotty (even among the large name brand retained search agencies). It really comes down to the quality and effectiveness of the individual recruiter. I believe that the Pareto Principle applies here in that the top 20% of recruiters here make 80% of the placements/revenues in this market.
It is still a relatively young market for recruitment services and a very difficult one too. It is a candidate short market and operating costs for recruitment firms is very high. It may look like an attractive market from the outside, but entering and succeeding in this market is a challenge.
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