The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


March 2014
Job Survey: A Good Year
Custom Media

Robert Walters produces a number of industry reports through close relationships with industry professionals and hiring companies.

The specialist professional recruitment consultancy leverages its unique position as the largest foreign recruitment firm in Japan to offer distinctive market expertise from salary trends to employee insight surveys.

As the first bilingual report of its kind in Japan, the Robert Walters Salary Survey is designed to enable clients to determine both salaries that professionals are commanding in the market, and which skills are expected to be in demand in the future. The 15th edition of the survey was released in Japan on February 18.

Job seekers will also find valuable the analysis offered, since it enables them to compare their value in Japan and other global markets.

Overall, 2013 was a good year for the Japan job market. According to David Swan, managing director of Robert Walters, Japan and Korea, pro-business policies have helped to increase confidence, and return hiring activity to levels not seen since 2007.

This assurance was further strengthened by Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which it is hoped will help stimulate the economy and all areas of industry in the years ahead.

“In 2012, many back office roles—such as HR, media relations, general affairs and administration, as well as IT duties—were moved offshore or outsourced to reduce costs. However, this started to change in the second half of 2013. Those roles were brought back in-house, and companies began hiring for relevant positions,” said Swan.

This year, companies seeking skilled, experienced bilingual professionals will be competing to secure the right individuals. Hiring managers should expect to offer higher salaries and keep their interviews as short as they can.

There are a limited number of professionals with both the necessary technical background, such as IT and law, as well as fluency in multiple languages.

When looking at salaries here, packages remain higher than in many other Asian countries. Thus, in 2012 and 2013, when the economy was still unstable, the trend was to cut costs by moving offshore those positions not requiring a local Japan presence, explained Swan.

Although salaries are always important to job seekers, during times of uncertain market conditions, other factors are more influential. These include progression opportunities, work–life balance, product potential, company vision, and office culture.

“Although Japanese companies tend to offer employees stability, foreign companies pay higher salaries, but they are performance based. With the growing trend toward globalization, more companies here are shifting to the Western performance-based model,” he said.

The job market for 2014 seems to suggest companies will be more willing to increase their headcount, while professionals will be more confident about changing jobs.

Meanwhile, the globalization of Japanese companies and the growing number of foreign companies entering the Japanese market indicate increased hiring of bilingual or multilingual professionals with special skills.

Further, as companies compete for top-tier professionals, there will be shortages of talent to fill permanent and contract positions.

To download a PDF of the survey or request a hard copy, please visit: