The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


May 2014
A Change In Attitude

The benefits of contract and temporary employment are becoming much clearer

Matthew Nicholls is the director of the Contract Division at Robert Walters Japan K.K.—one of the world’s leading specialist consultancies for permanent and contract recruitment.

With eight years’ experience in the recruitment industry, Nicholls is in charge of five teams, namely IT Infrastructure, IT Development, Operations and Accounting, Business Support Commerce, and Business Support Financial Services.

ACCJ Journal: What trends are you seeing in the contract and temporary recruitment world?

Nicholls: The biggest trend that we have witnessed has been a reduction of the stigma previously associated with being employed in a temporary or contract position. Attitudes are changing, in line with the rest of the world, and the benefits of working as a contract or temporary employee are now much clearer for candidates.

In certain sectors, such as IT, candidates with specialized skill sets can find fixed-term contracts that are extremely lucrative if clients need their skills for specific critical projects.

The attitudes of clients are also changing. Contract employees are no longer viewed as somehow inferior to their permanent counterparts. We are even seeing wholesale changes in policy by some clients, where all new employees are initially employed on fixed-term contracts rather than on a permanent basis.

What are the main areas you cover?

The Contract Division here at Robert Walters pretty much mirrors the coverage of the permanent side of our business. We have five teams that cover all back-office support functions: HR, legal, translation, accounting and finance, sales, marketing, PR, as well as comprehensive IT coverage.

Much like our permanent business, we specialize in placing hard-to-find bilingual candidates that are highly sought after in the Tokyo marketplace.

Which areas in particular have experienced strong growth?

The financial services sector is continuing to recover from the Lehman Shock, and is providing many opportunities for Robert Walters to maximize our already well-developed relationships.

Online gaming, particularly the mobile-gaming sector, is also growing rapidly, and many companies in this area prefer a contract solution for the fixed-term development projects that they operate.

What skills are in demand for contract and temporary positions?

Apart from the obvious shortage in bilingual candidates, we have found increased demand in a number of areas.

The need for qualified accountants is always high, especially with many international firms entering the Japanese market and requiring knowledge of local tax laws.

Often, an accountant on a direct contract is a much more affordable solution compared with utilizing one of the big four accounting firms.

Further, there is a huge surge in demand for people to fill junior HR positions. The current buoyant economic climate means many clients are increasing staff numbers. In the IT sector, bilingual help-desk specialists and web developers are also highly prized.

What is distinctive about Robert Walters’ recruitment to fill contract and temporary positions?

Several factors allow our Contract Division to offer clients truly unique solutions.

The size of our company means we can cover all the job functions that any business would need, and we have a deep database of bilingual candidates. Our specialist individual teams consist of experienced consultants that have vast knowledge of the market sectors and individual job specializations that they cover.

Further, we work extremely closely with the permanent side of our business. We recognize that senior roles, in particular, can often be troublesome to fill. However, the Contract division can provide an interim solution while the permanent side scours the market for the perfect long-term fit.

Last but not least, we have a unique culture. The Contract Division here in Tokyo is motivated, enthusiastic, and extremely successful. We are always willing to go the extra mile to provide the best service and solution for both clients and candidates.

Matthew Nicholls
Tel: 03-4570-1500