The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


MARCH 2015

Value of Overseas Recruitment

Clinton Rodney Gleave


Demand for international experience and language skills has never been higher in Japan. With the working population set to shrink more than 40 percent over the coming 35 years, companies are rapidly looking to expand abroad.

HR consulting firm DISCO Inc.’s 2014 annual graduate recruitment survey of roughly 10,000 corporations in Japan illustrates the need for globally minded staff. Since 2012, the number of companies recruiting Japanese nationals with international experience has tripled to 29 percent, while successful recruitment of non-Japanese workers has exploded from 21 percent to 54 percent in corporations with over 1,000 staff.

The same survey shows that 69 percent of those large corporations had planned to hire foreigners in 2014. The fact that only 54 percent were successful shows that a quarter of the companies trying to hire non-Japanese failed to do so, and that there is a shortage of non-Japanese talent.


Although Japan has historically been closed off to outside talent, executives across the country are now reworking their recruitment strategies.

The results of the survey also reflect Japan’s increased focus on Southeast Asia: 71 percent of clients seeking foreign staff plan to hire in the region this year. In addition, 90 percent of clients are hiring non-Japanese with the expectation that they will advance to at least management level.

While Japanese universities focus on job hunting during the last two years of undergraduate studies, institutions overseas encourage students to concentrate on their majors during this period, often providing internship programs. Besides recognizing these differences, companies in Japan are starting to value the overseas approach.


Global Solutions
To fulfill Japan’s global hiring needs, 29 years ago DISCO set up in Boston the world’s largest Japanese–English recruitment event.

Moreover, despite the declining number of Japanese students studying in English-speaking countries, the event attracts a growing number of candidates each year, with an average of 10,000 bilingual job hunters and 200 hiring companies present.

Most candidates are Japanese nationals who, attending top US undergraduate and MBA programs, are looking to join internationally minded companies. The popularity of the event has risen due to the extremely high quality of the candidates and the event’s efficiency: a typically yearlong recruitment cycle is condensed into weeks or days.

Beyond Borders
DISCO provides a unique service in Japanese–English bilingual recruitment. Companies in Japan are strictly bound to recruitment schedules, which always start on April 1. Unfortunately, students overseas graduate at different times, and the traditionally lengthy Japanese process does not accommodate them.

However, career forums worldwide have revolutionized Japanese new-graduate recruitment. Companies are adapting their recruitment schedule to make room for talented individuals. Success in Japan has encouraged their expansion to all of Asia through customized recruitment events and specialized on-campus activities.

After helping over 7,000 clients meet with more than 260,000 bilingual candidates over 42 years, DISCO is eagerly expanding to ensure that the world’s talented bilingual Japanese have the opportunity to globalize Japan.



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