The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

To successfully enter the Japanese market, it is important to understand the aspects of Japan’s business culture that differ from one’s home turf. Equally important is finding the right talent to develop, deploy, and execute an effective local strategy. To do this, a deep understanding of the Japanese applicant market is a must, and RGF Executive Search Japan stands ready to help clients find the right candidates and enter the market on stable ground.

The ACCJ Journal spoke with Struan McKay, CEO of RGF Executive Search Japan, to find out what makes his company different from others in the space.

It all starts with acknowledging the challenges that are unique to the Japanese market. “A cultural resistance to change and unnecessary risk combined with relatively poor language skills have resulted in a drastic shortage of globally minded talent from which to choose,” explained McKay. Most companies hoping to enter the Japanese market will face these types of issues, and RGF Executive Search assists them in overcoming the challenges using a broad pool of outlooks. “We use bespoke research and market mapping to generate passive prospects and evangelize the client offering to convert them in to active candidates.”

The keys to successful market entry in Japan differ from sector to sector. In some areas, speed is important. In others, it should be avoided. As McKay explained:“Research, planning, commitment, and execution with the correct partners and talent are key. Clients who only test the waters of a market with a short-term approach are more often doomed from the start, as their customers, partners, consumers, and employees all expect to see a solid commitment from the beginning to make it worth their time and attention.”

Value-add of placement is of high importance, and this is one way in which RGF Executive Search differs from competitors. “We partner with our clients and expect both sides to be committed for the long-term,” McKay noted. “The variety of specialist consultants throughout all sectors—paired with actual industry hands-on experience—provides our clients with effective results.”

Additionally, McKay spoke about the extensive experience of RGF’s recruiters, each of whom has worked in Japan’s recruitment sector an average of more than 10 years. “This allows us to differentiate ourselves in the market and provide clients with a better-understood, experienced strategy.”

Assessing a candidate to ensure they match the needs and culture of a client is done through a careful process. “The first step is to accurately understand the client, the role specification, and the required success factors of the hire,” said McKay. “We carry out assessments face-to-face—in both English and Japanese—and this allows for a more detailed, effective match. In this way, we can be sure the client’s needs are thoroughly met before making a final placement.”

Whether a company is looking to enter the Japanese market or is already successfully settled in, finding the right person for a job is extremely important. A successful hire is not always dependent on the longevity of the tenure. “Oftentimes, clients look for break­throughs via interim change agents who move on after the job is done,” McKay said. “The extent to which a hire is successful or not largely can be designed or mitigated by close attention to detail at all stages of the mandate from generation to subsequent execution—including due diligence on all sides.”

RGF Executive Search has been a trusted partner on assignments for board members, country managers, and senior to mid-level management roles for more than 20 years. As McKay explained in closing, “We work in partnership with our clients to understand their needs, challenges, and unique value propositions while creating detailed and exciting search briefs that evangelize their business and attract top talent.”