People often ask me about staffing in Japan, and how “different “ it must be to the rest of the recruiting world. Well of course Japan can be a perplexing place to an outsider, but 10 years of running a recruitment business there has taught me that, at the very core, success in staffing in Japan depends on exactly the same skills, metrics and activities that drive success anywhere else.
As you would expect, across a team of many recruiters we have a blend of exceptionally high performers, some solid fee generators, and a handful who are struggling to meet targets and objectives. Just before I left Tokyo recently, I debriefed with the local Regional Director, and it became clear that once again we had been reminded that a few very clear basics are what drive success in this business, and we agreed to refocus everyone back on to these priorities.
I have blogged previously on my core belief in what drives recruiting success
And certainly that formula holds true in Japan as much as anywhere else. However I found that under-performers in Japan were falling short in one or more of three specific key areas. As I jotted up my notes from the weeks work, I reflected that these ‘Three Commandments’ could well serve as a blueprint for staffing success, anywhere, anytime
. • Specialisation
Recruiters are easily seduced. A client wants help with a hire that’s outside our area of expertise and we jump right in. And then we find we don’t have the skills, knowledge, or connections to do a good job. We waste time, we get frustrated and we actually risk damaging our client relationship when actually we were trying to go “above and beyond”. And think of the opportunity cost working in areas we are unlikely to ever revisit. Successful recruiters are specialists. They know a niche and they work that niche. Specialisation is critical because it creates a perception that the recruiter is a recognised industry expert. This status appeals to both prospective clients and candidates. Furthermore, it gives recruiters instant credibility with passive candidates, which will be increasingly crucial. Don’t dabble. Don’t allow distractions. Go deep.
• Order qualification
This is just so critical. Most of us work a contingent business model. We only get paid if we fill the job. Yet so many recruiters try to fill every order that hits their desk. This is patently a mistake because all orders are not equal and nor are all clients. The most successful recruiters in our Japan business, as everywhere else, are brutal order qualifiers. Is the client serious about hiring? Is the order fillable? Are the hiring criteria reasonable? Salary appropriate? Working exclusively on an assignment with each client is a Firebrand goal. It is in the clients interests, the candidate interests, and of course our interest too. Our recruiters in Japan who do work more orders exclusively, bill exponentially more
• Talent selection
In financial markets they talk about canny investors being “stock-pickers” which refers to an ability to select ‘diamonds in rough’, investments that will outperform over time. Great recruiters are “talent-pickers”. We would love to place every person who approaches us or who we interview. But that’s not going to happen. In fact spreading your talent activity too thin will dilute your ability to find people work. Candidate selection is key. Selecting the best ones will be an art, developing relationship with them will be a skill that many of today’s transactional recruiters will find hard to adapt to. We have to be nimble enough to understand the trends in clients needs and adjust our candidate activities to meet that need
There are many, many things that make for a successful recruiter, but the “Three Commandments” (which may as be almost as old as the original ten!) still hold true, and I am finding it’s those recruiters who are applying age old, proven strategies to their work, who are flourishing most in the recovery
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- Posted by Greg Savage
- On May 21, 2010
- 5 Comments