Firm’s new HR placement goals focus on internationally minded recruits

by Minoru Matsutani

Staff Writer

Major human resources placement company Robert Walters Japan is strengthening its support for Japanese companies that want to hire people suited to international business, its president said in a recent symposium in Tokyo.

The Japanese unit of the Britain-headquartered company, Japanese Business Division, set up on Aug. 1, specializes in helping companies hire people with good language and other skills amid intensifying competition from foreign rivals, said David Swan, the president of Robert Walters Japan, who doubles as the head of Robert Walters in South Korea.

Swan and Ryosuke Oyama, the associate director of the new division, spoke at the Global Management Forum 2012 symposium in Tokyo on Oct. 23.

“We saw the need Japanese companies have,” Swan said, explaining why the Japanese unit set up the division. “We felt we are very well placed for it.”

Oyama said Japanese companies want highly competent workers who can conform to their corporate culture, but there are few such people. Consequently, they end up hiring highly conformable people lacking an international perspective, even though there are many more with the opposite qualities, he said.

In one example cited by Oyama, he mentioned a Japanese firm that chose not to interview a 35-year-old man because he had changed jobs twice and the company did not think he would stick around until retirement. Robert Walters Japan put him in touch with a foreign maker who ended up hiring him.

In another case, a man applied to both a Japanese and a foreign company. While the Japanese company spent three weeks checking applicants’ CVs and arranging interviews, the foreign company interviewed the man three times within those three weeks.

Explaining why he accepted a job offer from the foreign company, the man said, “I felt they (the foreign company) needed me.”

Finally, a Japanese financial firm changed its offer to a highly skilled worker from a full-time to a contract position partly because his academic experience — four years each at a Japanese and a U.S. university — was not compatible with the firm’s HR system.

He urged Japanese companies to be more flexible about hiring new talent and realize that hiring people in midcareer is different from hiring university graduates.