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Jeremy Sampson, managing director of Robert Walters Japan
executive impact

Robert Walters brings insight to hiring

By Lia Walsh for BCCJ ACUMEN

The global job climate is continuously changing. This rings true now more than ever as the pace of globalisation and technological change hastens. Robert Walters Japan, a leading name in the recruit­ment industry, was the first firm to share insight into such trends. In January, the firm held a seminar to cele­brate the launch of its 20th annual Salary Survey. The insight offered grew from Robert Walters’ industry experience—the placements they make, challenges they identify and solutions they create. Led this year by newly appointed managing director Jeremy Sampson, the seminar detailed recruit­ment move­ments in 2018 and predicted those to come in the year ahead.

In an interview with ACUMEN following the January event, Sampson reiterated that Robert Walters is “one of the longest-existing global recruit­ment firms in Japan, recognised as number-one in the market”. With such experience, the Salary Survey is highly sought after, providing hiring advice, salary information and market updates each year.

Global trends

At this year’s seminar, Sampson immediately addressed the elephant in the room: the over­whelming movement towards a data-oriented world and, there­fore, workforce. It was noted that work performed in information technology (IT) depart­ments has shifted to focus on projects that drive business. As a result, firms are demanding technological skills—not only for business development but also to conform with data security regula­tions and to address privacy concerns. Sampson revealed that, in 2018, the demand for specialists in cybersecurity, Big Data, artifi­cial intelligence and e-commerce grew enormously, leaving firms desperate as they try to recruit from a smaller talent pool.

Such trends, seen globally, only intensify when it comes to the Japanese market. Sampson added that, to remain competitive, Japanese and foreign firms are turning to tech and investing in technologies such as robots, robotic process automation and machine learning as they reduce clerical positions and streamline and automate processes.

According to the study, when it comes to bilingual professionals, Japan’s job opening-to-applicants ratio is as high as 20:1 in highly specialised areas. In ACUMEN’s conversations with Sampson, he explained that Robert Walters sees the bilingual skills as so important that the firm has spent the past 20 years building the largest bilingual database in Japan.

Moving forward

In addition to technological shifts, other tactics being used by Japanese and foreign firms to adapt to a dwindling work­force were also explored. To attract workers, firms are emphasising improve­ments to working conditions. With talent being spoilt for choice, Sampson emphasised, the importance of a firm offering work–life balance and other initiatives is greater than ever.

Firms are also looking past old pre­con­cep­tions and are seeking candidates from a more diverse group. Sampson shared with ACUMEN his views on the ageing population, describing the opportunity it brings. Where there is a shortage of younger workers, there is an abundance of highly capable, highly energetic senior professionals, he said. Similarly, the study found an increased willingness by Japanese and foreign firms to hire foreign talent. Robert Walters’ own staff reflects this move away from traditional hiring: 50% are non-Japanese, one-third of management is female and, collectively, represent more than 35 nationalities.

Taking charge

Appointed managing director of Robert Walters Japan in August 2018, Sampson first joined the firm in 2006 and managed the sales and marketing industrial team for four years, until 2013, when he took over direction of the commerce and industry division.

Sampson described the Robert Walters approach to building its own team. “We hire high-potential, high-energy, motivated pro­fessionals and really sculpt them to the Robert Walters DNA”. Having experienced this himself, Sampson believes some of his most valuable experience has come from being on the front lines of the business, working with clients and candidates, and managing teams directly.

Over the course of 13 years at the firm, Sampson said he has gained a strong aware­ness of the challenges that clients and candidates face. This was evident as he led the 2019 Salary Survey seminar, at which he defined those challenges and explored solutions. “We have been the market leader from almost day one. That is something I am tasked with continuing now,” he said, adding that he is looking to further Robert Walters’ leader­ship in the recruitment industry by helping firms in Japan overcome the talent crisis.

Custom Media publishes BCCJ ACUMEN for the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan.


©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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One of the biggest obstacles in a job search are the recruitment agencies themselves. My experiences have never been positive and my last two positions were recruited directly, which is my recommendation to anyone.

Employers are too busy or too lazy and too easily pass their hiring work to these agencies. Unless you are totally Japanese bilingual, agencies are not interested. Even if your conversation is fluent or if you are studying, the agencies knowingly ignore more skilled and experienced candidates in return for language.

Personally I believe recruitment agencies in Japan have some responsibility why Japan offices of foreign companies alienate themselves into a purely Japanese working bubble.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I overheard to senior executives of RW in London having a conversation about the earnings of (I think) the deputy CEO their firm (they did not say the company name directly, but I pieced it together from information they gave, and the use of his first name).

All I can say is wow - there is a lot of money to be made in recruitment. Probably about 10 times higher than I would have thought he would be on.

And a message to those seniors who were having that discussion, it really isn't that hard to work out what and who you were talking about, particularly with the use of Google.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Follow the Agent who puts in the time to represent you, not the Company he works for. The former is someone who deserves Credit for their work, which is best done though sticking with them.

Sadly, Japan needs to rework their outdated Employment system if they wish to remain competitive in today's World.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This agency (like all of them) are out for No. 1. If you get the job you get the agent a nice little commission who may then promise you a dinner and never follow through on it (happened to me). If you fail, you'll never hear from them again, let alone why you didn't make the cut.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

when it comes to bilingual professionals, Japan’s job opening-to-applicants ratio is as high as 20:1 in highly specialised areas

sign me up :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Used them to try to fill several positions, they gave us a really good rate so I gave them a chance. The free lunches didn't make up for the lack luster candidates they sent over. One was 40 mins late, another even asked to only work 3 days a week.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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