Future-proofing tech talent in Japan

Strategy to boost business performance

In 2020 specialist professional recruitment firm Robert Walters Japan announced its recent survey results regarding the topic of skills mismatch. The survey was answered by 300 companies and 4,062 company employees working in Japan (mainly in Tokyo and Kansai).

In response to the survey results, Jeremy Sampson, Managing Director at Robert Walters Japan said in the post-Covid-19 era, people who can keep an eye on changes in the business environment and market trends as well as drive business forward strategically and quickly are in high demand.

Many companies with operations in Japan are hiring for sales positions to expand and promote their businesses, engineers and developers to promote innovation, and accountants to support management by accurately grasping business trends. Many companies have been able to speed up and continue their hiring processes as a result of the pandemic. On the other hand, long-term skills mismatch and talent shortages are becoming increasingly serious in the post-pandemic era.

The survey revealed that skilled professionals, especially in the tech industry, are confident about job opportunities. In addition to technical skills and industry experience, candidates with strong communication skills to turn remote environment into opportunities, and problem-solving skills to respond to new challenges and drive change are highly sought after. In this survey, 26% of company employees reported that their career development was hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Around 40% responded that they plan to overcome this by learning a completely new skill. We can expect more demand among professionals for training and development opportunities that allow people to acquire new skills while working.”

When leaders of organisations or HR departments were asked about most important transferrable/soft skills needed, demand for communication skills (70%), problem solving (64%) and teamwork (38%) was particularly high. Additionally, “leadership” in the manufacturing industry and “flexibility” and “resilience” in the tech industry are also considered important.

The top three hiring challenges in Japan are a lack of industry experience (52%), lack of technical qualifications (41%) and a lack of applicants (27%). In the financial services industry, high expectations for salary and benefits among candidates as well as counter-offers due to competition for talent (both 28%) are also challenges. In the tech industry, the results suggest a shortage of not only technical skills, but also industry experience (59%).

The key is future-proof recruitment strategy

A world-class, future-proof recruitment strategy is the key to improving the performance of technology companies, finds recruitment specialist Hays. In a recent poll, 45 per cent of nearly 500 respondents agreed that it improves overall productivity, alongside customer experience (26 per cent), product quality (19 per cent), and financial performance (10 per cent).

Having an intentional recruitment strategy is especially critical now in the aftermath of the pandemic, which accelerated the digital transformation of many businesses over the last two years. The increased reliance on technology has resulted in a surge in demand for IT specialists while simultaneously supporting a boom in the technology sector. Some of these roles include cloud architects and engineers, cybersecurity professionals, data and machine learning experts, developers, UI/UX specialists, as well as change management specialists.

In Japan, security has been a key digital issue in 2021 as reported in the 2021 Asia Salary Guide, and thus the coming months will see a rapid rise in demand for technology professionals across areas like cybersecurity, information security, big data, and artificial intelligence. Hands-on candidates with the capacity to execute ‘big picture’ strategies will have the advantage.

Short supply of tech candidates drives urgency to rethink talent management

Job seekers are increasingly prioritising work-life balance, a healthy corporate culture, and clear career development paths as we transition to a ‘new normal’ of remote or hybrid working. As such, it is crucial for leaders to look at how they can better future proof the business, both from a people and process perspective. With a short supply of qualified candidates available to fill ever-increasing vacancies within the tech sector, employers should pay more attention to rethinking talent management, which includes cultivating a balanced corporate culture, defining pathways for personal and professional development, as well as development a long-term recruitment strategy.

Dr Maggi Evans, Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Consultant and Coach at Mosaic Consulting explains in a Hays guest blog, “We need to be keeping an eye on the future. We need to be exploring the possible scenarios we will be faced with and taking action now to ensure that we are well positioned to attract, motivate, develop and retain the talent we need in the future, in an agile and responsive way.”

There are four emerging themes of talent management, she notes. First, location of work, in which the increasing adoption of hybrid working models means rethinking how companies can balance potential financial gains from lower facilities cost with safeguarding productivity, engagement, and performance. Second, flexibility should be built into workforce planning to ensure businesses have access to the talent needed for both the short and long term.

The third emerging theme, personalisation, involves understanding the different circumstances each team member is in and finding ways of supporting them to thrive in the workplace. Finally, building and reinforcing workplace belonging and culture is key to differentiating from other employers and creating a clear employee proposition in a new era of work.

Evolve hiring processes with automation and AI tools to enhance candidate experience

As competition for tech talent heats up, employers must rethink hiring processes and be prepared to evolve them quickly to attract candidates and enhance their experience with the business. Jacky Carter, Customer Experience Director at Hays recommends building these processes with automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

“What automation and AI does is enable processes to be completed at a scale that is simply unachievable by humans. The need to do this is about to be ramped up significantly given the environment we face and the levels of unemployment that are predicted – the likes of which most of us will have never seen, meaning the rate of applications and candidates seeking roles will increase tenfold,” she says.

Aside from solving challenges of scale, the automation and AI approach also enables organisations to take a more candidate-centric approach. By including automation and AI tools in the hiring process, businesses can better collect data on when, how, and why candidates interact with businesses, map out the journey of each candidate group to understand how touchpoints and interactions fit together, and continually test, evaluate, and optimise the process. This would help ensure fairer candidate screening, better candidate fit, and safeguard future talent pipelines.

In a digital age where information is readily available, candidates increasingly prefer one-to-one, personalised communication. Aside from having a calendar of regular and relevant content that provides specialist insight and advice to build familiarity and trust with candidates, businesses can also use sophisticated data analytics tools to track and measure how candidates interact with this content for richer candidate insight. It is then easier to gauge and provide candidates with suitable and appealing opportunities.

However, employers should be careful not to rely solely on automation and AI and ensure the use of these technologies is guided by parameters that are defined by people. Managing Director of Hays Japan, Grant Torrens explains, “Leveraging AI and digital tools certainly help to optimise processes and help businesses hire right. However, we mustn’t forget about the importance of human nuances in hiring, such as setting the hiring criteria, building relationships, and matching the right opportunities are provided to the right candidates.”

Partner with tech-enabled recruitment specialists to boost performance

To scale up tech recruitment and strengthen company performance in a candidate-short environment, businesses should start building strong in-house capability by evolving their hiring processes as explained above. Otherwise, consider working with recruitment specialists with technology-enabled capabilities like Hays to deliver a personalised experience at scale.

For example, Hays’ Find & Engage strategy combines recruitment best practices and candidate relationships that Hays consultants have developed over many years with today’s emerging technologies and data science techniques. Not only does this ensure that the most qualified candidates are found for every role, regardless of whether they are actively looking for an opportunity, it also helps guide the decisions of which of these candidates to call, and what to say.

This strategy was first tested with IT contractors registered on Hays’ databases worldwide. Using a chatbot to lead an automated outreach programme resulted in in 41 per cent of recipients responding with useful information, which enabled consultants and hiring managers to narrow down the talent pool to only engaged candidates. Using automation technology, Hays also streamlined repetitive front and back-office processes such as gathering and processing compliance data.

“Whether you choose to recruit in-house or use external agencies, the focus should be on cultivating long-term, meaningful relationships. And when your recruitment strategy is enabled by technology, you’ll easily find and engage the best talent out there in a scalable way,” says Grant Torrens. Targeting, interacting with, and eventually hiring the best candidates who are engaged from the start goes a long way in improving business productivity and performance overall.



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