How to find good Japanese employees

How to find good Japanese employees

And not only are firms finding that they can ease people out of jobs, people are beginning to think that they can change jobs.

For example, a 1989 survey indicated that 25% of those questioned already had changed jobs, and 35% were considering a career change. Although Japan's current economic slowdown may have tempered these figures somewhat, Japanese are finding more job mobility than they previously thought existed.

So Japanese do change jobs, and they may be interested in joining your firm, but how do you find them in a nation where unemployment is well under three percent?

One place to look is a joint venture where your partner supplies the personnel. This is a quick and dirty solution, but the loyalty of the personnel will be with their old firm, not yours.

Another source of quality personnel is Japanese women. Japanese women have gotten the short end of the stick in Japan for a number of years, and women typically get paid 20 to 40 percent less than men for similar work. Many Japanese women might be willing to work for a progressive American company.

Japanese who graduated from American universities might also be a good possibility. Such people usually will fit into the culture of an American firm, and they have shown that they have the independence and ability to take risks that a start-up firm in Japan might need. Plus, as an added bonus, such candidates might be better prepared for work because they spent four years actually studying at college, rather than playing as the typical Japanese college student is prone to do.

To find older, more experienced employees who might provide management for your firm, you'll probably have to use a combination of professional recruiters, advertising and personal contacts.

When you use head hunters to find management material, they will probably focus their efforts on those employees who are now working for subsidiaries of declining Japanese industries. Such employees face a fairly dismal future because their industry is in decline.

Also, because they work for a subsidiary, they usually have suffered a drop in pay and status. So these people may be more willing to work for a foreign firm with a promising future, but these candidates should be screened carefully. Remember, many of them were shipped to a subsidiary because they are less than peak performers.

Although head hunters are usually effective in finding qualified people , such recruiters will be expensive. Many recruiters demand retainers and up to 40% of a candidate's first-year salary.

Once your company is more firmly established in Japan it may be possible to recruit in the more traditional Japanese manner of recommendations from college professors. This is probably the cheapest and best way of attracting young talent, but college professors will usually only recommend a large, stable company to a student. Nevertheless, foreign firms that hope to expand significantly in the Japanese market should establish early relations with prominent college professors for recruiting purposes.

Finally, the role of the expatriot should be explored. Obviously, expatriots with a number of dependents can be quite expensive in any foreign country, especially Japan. Still, a firm may have to use expatriots - at least in the initial stages of entry into Japan. This is simply because your firm may not be able to find qualified Japanese managers at the start.

Also, new Japanese personnel will require training, and a person from the home office may be the only one who can answer questions during these early stages. The expatriot should be a speaker of Japanese, but a bigger requirement is that he or she understands your business.