When the recession hit Japan in 2008, many executive recruitment companies were also hit hard. Some packed up and left Japan, but others acted promptly and adapted to the market’s needs. One of those is Hays Specialist Recruitment Japan, which has had a presence in Japan for nine years. Hays are experts in recruiting for nine fields: accountancy & finance, banking, construction & property, finance technology, human resources, information technology, pharma, sales & marketing and most recently, office professionals.
Overseeing the Japan office is Christine Wright, managing director for Japan. Born and educated in England, Wright joined Hays in England 15 1/2 years ago as a graduate. After 3 1/2 years, she went to Australia where she was with Hays in Sydney and Perth. She took up her current assignment in September last year.
Japan Today editor Chris Betros visits Wright at the Hays offices in Akasaka to hear more about the business.
You arrived in Japan during a tough time, didn’t you?
It was a tough time but Hays had already acted very promptly when the downturn happened, so it meant that we managed our business very well. We made sure that we retained the talented people in our team, and maintained our high service levels for our clients and candidates. Overall, the banking sector was hardest hit, while other sectors, such as pharma, actually saw growth.
What are your main services?
We offer permanent and temp recruitment; we have a resource management business which offers solutions to our clients to help manage their recruitment processes and to increase their capability when they need to hire large numbers of candidates.
Are you seeing more business confidence in the market?
Yes, I would say Japan is on the path to recovery. We have had a very successful year so far and have been growing our own head count to meet the demands of our increase in business.
How do you market Hays in Japan?
Having been in the Japanese market for nine years, Hays has a lot of very strong client and candidate relationships, so we are trusted to provide an efficient and effective service. As a result, we get a lot of work through satisfied customers. Also, we have a strong global brand, which means we are very recognizable as a leading global recruiting company.
What advice would you give to a prospective client?
The search for talent with specialist skills is a very competitive industry in Japan. When choosing a recruitment agency, I would advise you to come in and talk to the recruiter. A company can have lots of glossy materials to say how great they are and what they do, but the proof of the pudding is in the results they actually deliver for you. The recruiter has to understand what your needs are and can only do that by listening and asking the right questions. I would also advise you to make sure a recruiter has a proven track record of success and truly understands the role you need to hire someone for.
What is the difference between a good recruiting company and one that might not get results?
There are a lot of recruitment agencies, ranging from large multinationals down to one-man operations. What sets them apart comes down to the training of the consultants, how they operate and how they are governed. We constantly ask our customers how we are doing, so we are accountable and keen to keep improving.
But the most important thing comes back to the way a company encourages their staff to operate. At Hays, we don’t just give our staff initial training and put them down in front of a computer and phone and never give them any more training. We have developed training programs for every level of staff. Part of that training is about becoming an expert in the area you work in. For example, when someone comes to us and their expectations can’t be met by what’s available in the market, our job as a consultancy is to educate them and help them understand what is available.
What sort of personality makes a good recruiter?
A good recruiter has to like dealing with people, be interested in long-term relationships, enjoy seeing people succeed, be able to talk honestly, and lay out facts as they are, rather than trying to cloak it in lots of different ways.
What are Hays’ strengths?
Our consultants are industry and sector specialists. The training and development of our consultants is very consistent on a global basis. Another plus for us is that, as an international company, we have access to a global pool of candidates. This is important because Japan is becoming much more globalized. So, for example, if a Japanese company is making English their in-house language, then naturally they need people with bilingual skills. We can provide that talent.
Tell us about your staff.
We have over 100 here, most of whom are consultants. About 60% are Japanese and the rest are made up of 12 nationalities. We have had a very low turnover of staff ourselves because of the investment we make in our employees. Quite a few have worked for us for a long time.
Is Hays involved in any charity activities?
Yes. When I came here, I noticed there wasn’t as much activity in the community sector as there might be in other countries. We tend to look for charities that help with development of people since that is what our business is about. So I was delighted to let our offices be used recently by children from Nonohana-no-ie Children’s Home for a workshop to help them understand the world of work. I am actively looking at other charities to support because it’s something we should continue to do to support the local community.
What is a typical day for you?
A typical day involves a lot of face to face meetings both internally and externally. My priority is supporting the business to achieve its objectives and the development of our staff through training and clear and fair targets. Our team is very focused on becoming the fastest growing and most successful recruitment company in Japan and I am very passionate about achieving this.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I like to socialize, go to the gym and do pilates. I enjoy new dining experiences and exploring Japan. It’s an incredibly interesting place to live.
For further information, visit www.hays.co.jp© Japan Today