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Japan is the third largest economy and healthcare market in the world with its digital health market to increase by over 630 billion yen by 2026. Japan is emerging as the global test hub for digital healthcare to address the challenges of an aging society. Which makes Japan a place of opportunity for any HealthTech looking to expand into the Japanese market. However, Japan is one of the most difficult countries to hire in, with an estimated 81% of employers in Japan facing hiring difficulties.

Japan HealthTech

The difficulty of hiring grew directly proportionate to the company’s size. Many of the clients with whom we’ve communicated have expressed frustration with the difficulty of finding qualified candidates in Japan. The following are some major reasons for the difficulties in hiring in Japan:

  1. Language Barriers

  2. Passive Job Candidates

  3. Traditional Japanese Values and Beliefs

  4. High in Life-Time Employment

Barriers To Hiring in Japan

Language Barriers

It is important to note that many Japanese are highly qualified and successful in their respective fields. However, when compared to the rest of the world, English fluency in Japan is relatively low. Based on our experience with our clients, we found that putting English as a top priority in their hiring checklist significantly reduced the available talent pool by at least 85%.

Tip: Keep your checklist short and be open to candidates with transferrable skill sets.

It is estimated that less than 10% of the Japanese population is fluent in English, making it more difficult when being bilingual is one of the key criteria. As an employer, you should consider whether having strong spoken English skills is required for your candidate to succeed in their role. It is also important to be more understanding when pre-screening your candidates in order to anticipate that Japanese candidates may be stronger in their reading and writing English skills rather than their speaking skills because English is not their primary language in their home country. Alternatively, you could consider investing in your employees’ upskilling by sending them to English classes. When an individual is placed in an English-speaking environment, his or her English speaking skills improve significantly. If communication in English is necessary for success in this role, your company may want to consider hiring a Japanese professional and collaborating with an interpreter or translator. Being flexible in one set of criteria, such as language, will allow you to attract a larger candidate pool for your role.

Tip: Fluency in English should be your secondary criterion when finding your ‘ideal’ candidate.

Passive Job Candidates

The lifetime employment rate has decreased over time. However, it is not uncommon to find Japanese employees who have been with the same company for a long time. Japanese candidates place their family first and are most concerned about job security. As a result of their loyalty and risk-averse beliefs, headhunting these candidates may be more difficult. It is more difficult to receive a response from them because they do not want to be labeled as ‘open to new opportunities,’ so when looking for work, they tend to rely on reputable agencies.

Tip: Share detailed information about the hiring company and job scope while being open and honest with Japanese candidates.

Despite the difficulties of hiring in Japan, Japan is still an attractive place to hire due to its size and highly educated workforce.

Tip: Utilize the skills of a specialized recruiter like Storm3 that maintains a strong database of Japanese candidates by actively headhunting and building relationships with candidates.

Traditional Japanese Values and Beliefs

One of the common cultural qualities of the Japanese is their high-risk adversity and strong company loyalty. Loyalty, respect, and honor are highly valued in Japan. It’s uncommon to see Japanese applicants because they choose to keep their job search private. Hiring managers should be pleasant, patient, and supportive of candidates throughout the interview process as this will help guarantee that you encourage the top candidates to stay with you.

Tip: Be culturally aware when dealing with Japanese candidates.

When establishing and maintaining business relationships in Japan, trust and respect are vital. Because the Japanese are very careful about whom they talk to, they rarely respond to emails or phone calls from recruiters they do not know.

Tip: Build trust with Japanese candidates by going through recommendations and referrals.

High in Life-Time Employment

Because of their pride in their culture, traditional Japanese people think that they must work for a company with a “strong” and “excellent” reputation. You should use your worldwide branding as a new and foreign HealthTech brand in Japan to persuade Japanese job seekers to apply for your position.

Tip: Improve your company’s employer branding to increase your attractiveness to potential Japanese candidates.

How Storm3 Can Help

Because of their values and beliefs, hiring in Japan is a completely different experience than in other regions. Recruitment in Japan can be a difficult and hard experience. Similarly, entering any new markets might be difficult but crucial for the success of your HealthTech.

At Storm3, we are specialist recruiters dedicated to working with the top companies in all HealthTech sectors. With a team of specialist recruiters and a strong pool of experienced Japan-based candidates, we can help you succeed in your expansion into the Japanese market. Storm3 is here to help you find the right senior talent for the right specialism. If you are looking to expand your team, contact us.