The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Japanese recruitment agency Apex Inc., which specializes in talent acquisition for domestic and global companies in the real estate investment and finance sector, received the Specialist Recruitment Company of the Year Award at the 2018 RI Awards on June 29.

Kazuhisa Hashimoto established Apex in 2006, two years prior to the global financial crisis. When the crash happened, recruitment agencies were falling into bankruptcy and exiting the market. This prompted Hashimoto to continue working solo until 2012, when Shinzo Abe was elected prime minister and the market began to improve.

Since then, as the market has advanced, Apex has expanded every six months and now employs 11 experienced staff, many of whom are bilingual. Hashimoto manages operations—including the hiring and training of new employees—for the company that provides staffing at various levels and offers an extensive database to its clients.

“I think recruiters or headhunters are still undervalued in Japanese society,” said Hashimoto. In the United States, recruitment and headhunting is perceived as a much more rep­utable career, and he hopes the industry in Japan can erase this gap through promotion and better salaries. By 2020, he hopes to have expanded his company to 20 employees.

At Apex, employees are paid according to their performance. “I don’t give them so much pressure. I just give them the target. Most of my staff reach that goal because our company has a good compensation system,” Hashimoto said. “The more revenue they make, the more income they make; and so we have a very highly competitive commission structure.” Most recruitment agencies offer an incentive ratio between 25 and 30 percent, but Apex doubles that.

“I think we have a good working environment. Staff don’t need to come to the office every day; they come every time they need to, so we don’t have the concept of paid vacation and sick leave,” he explained. With the exception of a mandatory weekly meeting and their own client commitments, employees are able to customize their schedules by arriving and leaving as they wish—even working on weekends if they choose.

Although job opportunities are on the rise in Tokyo, recruiters are finding it increasingly challenging to convince job seekers to accept their clients’ offers. “We have to negotiate with clients to raise the salary or offer more benefits,” Hashimoto said. “I often ask our clients to invite the candidate for dinner. Because I am the agent, my impact is limited. But, for a direct employer, the pathway to the candidate has a stronger impact.”

Prior to receiving their RI award, Apex had picked up two Nikkei Human Resources Agent Awards, in 2015 and 2016. The accolades have strengthened the trust and connections the company has cultivated over the years and improved its status in Japan’s real estate investment and finance market. Apex has strong links within this sector in Tokyo and has obtained a reputable status with both employers and employees.

To build upon this local success, Hashimoto is looking to expand not only in Japan but also to the United States. He said that the RI Award will be a “good appeal for global companies” and will fuel his plans to set up a US subsidiary through which he can aid new university graduates as they begin their recruit­ment career—the way a US subsidiary recruitment corporation took him under its wing 20 years ago.

Start with the right partner to find the best talent. Apex Inc. specializes in delivering best-practice search and recruiting services for client organizations, ranging from multinational corporations to small entrepreneurial businesses.


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