Japan is a difficult market for non-Japanese companies to enter given cultural preference for lifelong company loyalty, not publicly advertising one's accomplishments, and relatively low English proficiency. This article lays out some of the key information to bear in mind when considering to grow your operations to this country.
The market at a glance
Size of workforce
Those who work for pay or profit for at least one hour a week, or who have a job but are temporarily not at work due to illness, leave or industrial action
The ratio of the employed to the working age
% of population (25-44 yrs old) with tertiary graduation rates
Cost of labor
English proficiency index (world)
The world's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills
English proficiency index (Asia)
Asia's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills
Finding the right talent
The Japanese talent market can be a difficult one for non-Japanese companies to enter due to low English proficiency, and a culture of staying at one company for one’s whole career. Therefore, the market for new grad talent may be easier to tap into than industry candidates.
Job board usage is limited, as are social media platforms such as LinkedIn. If job boards are to be used, then Gaijinpot, Daijob, and CareerEngine are the top-used sites.
Organic networking is more strongly encouraged, and recruiters are likely to have more success sourcing candidates and writing initial outreach in Japanese.
Things to keep in mind
There are a few cultural insights to keep in mind when looking to hire from or set up operations in Japan. The Japanese value humility and honesty, so it is most effective to ask thought process-oriented questions where a candidate’s ability to think through and articulate answers to questions is prioritized over upselling ones experience.
Additionally, the Japanese maintain a tradition of loyalty to one company throughout one’s career, and highly value job security. So reaching out to candidates will require more persistence, and will likely have a lower return rate than in other countries. Utilizing a Japanese staffing agency can mitigate some of these obstacles, though the fees at which they operate are often higher due to the difficulty in attracting candidates.