Are you thinking of entering the Japanese market, or expanding your business in Japan, but struggling to grasp the talent landscape there?

As you may be aware, people are key in making a huge impact on a business – whether it is growing a business in Japan or anywhere else in the world. But it becomes more tricky when you need to hire someone in a country that you’re not familiar with because of expectations.

In this article, we’ll introduce the key factors and trends which can be seen within the talent landscape in Japan to help you find the right talent for your business.



Key facts to know about recruiting in Japan

  • Recruiting in Japan fact #1: Chronic talent shortage especially for bilingual specialists

Japan has one of the most aged societies, so a chronic talent shortage isn’t surprising. In addition to the demographical challenge, the society is still quite mono-lingual so if you’re looking for bilingual candidates, the available talent pool becomes even smaller.

Another thing to take note of is how Japanese companies tend to prefer generalists, rather than specialists. As such, many professionals are trained that way, which makes it difficult to find specialists. If you can expand your search into a foreign talent pool in Japan or outside of the industry in which your company operates in, hiring skilled talent would be much easier as you can tap into a much bigger audience.


  • Recruiting in Japan fact #2: Domestic companies and brands are penetrating the local market well

Since a large part of the population is monolingual, and peoples’ preference and behaviour are unique (one good example is how information-heavy and a crowded UI is preferred over a simple UI), the Japanese market is often described as the “Galapagos”, meaning some products and services thrive in Japan but not elsewhere. Therefore, domestic brands tend to penetrate the market much better. For example, Rakuten has one of the biggest e-commerce (EC) platforms in Japan, and most of the population in Japan uses LINE as their main messaging application.

With many different brands and companies in Japan, this not only means that the market can get very competitive in terms of both revenue and talent, it also means that bigger companies with a strong market presence stand a better chance in attracting talent. As such, it’s crucial to convey your products' or services' strengths and potential based on thorough market research and a strong messaging. In addition, having someone in your team who understands the local culture and market can be vital for your business to succeed.


  • Recruiting in Japan fact #3: Job security used to be a priority but this is slowly changing

Different cultures evaluate different things. In Japan, where lifetime employment was traditionally a norm, people tend to prefer jobs that provided stability. This is why job seekers prioritise how famous and established a company is, rather than focusing on what they can work as within an organisation.

But skilled talent within the growing Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) markets such as IT and technology have become more open to challenging and exciting job opportunities with a higher salary. Based on the survey we conducted of more than 700 STEM professionals in Japan in 2022, salary and benefits were the top priorities for skilled job seekers, followed by work-life balance and job security.

Given the fact that the current average salaries in Japan are lower than that of the 1990s due to various reasons such as rising inflation, offering a higher salary gives your organisation a better chance to secure top talent in this already talent-short market.


  • Recruiting in Japan fact #4: HR policies and regulations are skewed toward employees

Although we’re starting to see a shift in people’s mindset towards job security, labour laws and regulations in Japan are still based on the assumption of lifetime employment. Therefore, they skew towards employees and protect them, making it difficult to have a permanent employee made redundant.

What this means to an employer is the careful selection you have to make when you hire someone permanently. In conjunction with this, also showed that skilled talent are becoming more open toward contract jobs (where 75% of the STEM professionals who took part in the survey mentioned that they either already work as a contractor or would consider working as a contractor). Therefore, utilising a contract hiring option to minimise any recruiting risk would be an alternative solution.



Where to start when recruiting in Japan?

If your organisation is looking to enter the Japanese market and you’re trying to hire the right talent for your team, here is the list of things you can start doing.

  • Prepare a solid job description

You might already have it, but the more detailed your job description, the more relevant your applicants would be. However, try not to make a long list of “must-have” as many people would feel too intimidated to even apply. This is especially the case in Japan so keep your “must-have” list to a minimum and put them on a “good-to-have” list instead. Researching on how your successful competitors in Japan write their job descriptions would also give you a good idea where to start.


  • Create or review your EVP (Employee Value Proposition)

To convey why job seekers should work for your company, having a compelling EVP will be a very powerful tool. You could include the company’s principles, missions, cultures, benefits, career paths, training programmes, diversity and inclusion policies, environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) policy, and more, to show what it’s like and what benefits they can get by working for your organisation.

Our survey shows that younger and more savvy individuals, want to work for a company that makes an impact. 83% of local skilled talent surveyed have viewed this as either important or very important. Therefore, creating an EVP can help your organisation to articulate some of these important messaging to your potential employees.

Kenzon From Teads

You can read more about how Teads successfully increased their employer brand with EVP below.

Read what our client says
  • Find a trusted recruiting partner with a presence in Japan

There’s always an option to do direct scouting on LinkedIn or other local job boards, but without a solid understanding of the talent market in Japan, it can end up being a costly and time-consuming exercise. By working with a trusted recruitment partner, you can save time, resources and cost amidst many other benefits including access to;

  • Market map to identify the relevant talent pool
  • Assessment of the right salary and benefits package to stay competitive in the talent race
  • Access to skilled talent who are currently not actively looking
  • Shortlist of the relevant and screened candidates
  • Networking opportunities with specialist talent which are harder to find

Recruiting partners can also suggest the best way to secure talent that fits your needs, whether it’s permanent or contract, and take away all the hustle in finding and hiring skilled talent so that you can focus on growing your business. You can read more about the benefits of working with a recruitment agency here.


Computer Futures can help your recruiting in Japan

If you’re new to the Japanese market or struggle to find the right professionals to accelerate your business growth, talk to Computer Futures. We are one of the biggest IT-specialised recruitment teams based locally in Japan with a strong track record of nearly 40 years of experience globally. Contact us via the form below to discuss how we can add value to your business.

Whether you’re a professional looking for a job or a business seeking highly skilled talent, the team at Computer Futures are here for you. By combining our local expertise and specialist market knowledge, we can provide expert recruitment and employment solutions across a range of IT markets.