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Closing Japanese Candidates What is transparent offer process? According to Manpower’s 2015 Talent Shortage Survey, Japan continues to lead the world with a whopping 83 percent of employers reporting difficulty filling jobs. This figure underscores the importance of ensuring acceptance at the most critical step in the recruitment process – the offer stage. While much has been written about the difficulties foreign firms face in hiring Japanese talent, relatively little has been written about how to close candidates once they are in your recruitment pipeline in Japan. A transparent closing process to be shared by the employer, recruiter, and potential employee is critical in ensuring success for your firm in Japan. Even before recruitment begins, the employer needs to decide if the position to be filled is a ‘value’ hire or a ‘strategic’ hire. Value hires are characterized by a high number of candidates in relatively unskilled roles, with candidates likely being paid lower salaries. For value hires, corporations need minimal flexibility in terms of salary and benefits to attract and retain candidates. Value hires are often applicants to your company, affording your firm nearly all of the power in the recruitment process. On the other hand, strategic hires are characterized by a much smaller number of qualified candidates in the market. These candidates are often in management or technical roles, without which your company could not function. Confusing these strategic “A” players who need to be courted with value hire applicants can result in offer drop-offs very quickly. Given the difficulty of filling jobs in Japan, nearly every prospective employee should be considered a strategic hire. As such, nearly all recruitment in Japan would benefit from a clearly-defined, transparent offer process. A transparent offer process by the employer, recruiter, and potential employee (candidate) in Japan is important for a few key reasons. Firstly, while changing companies is becoming more prevalent in Japan, many candidates have few experiences changing jobs, and need clear guidelines on how to approach the offer process, so as to remove the potential panic and subsequent withdrawal from an unfamiliar situation. Secondly, the common recruiter salary negotiation tactic of finding the lowest package that a candidate will accept while finding out the highest package that a company will offer misses the mark in terms of what recruitment should be about. The ultimate goal for any recruitment process is to make the best deal on behalf of both the employer and the candidate, from which a healthy, long-term employment relationship that is wholly agree-able to all sides can embark. Thirdly, and somewhat unique to Japan, non-Japanese employers often think that the key to a successful hire is simply to offer a higher salary to prospective employees, which is often not the case. A proper closing process can prevent an employer from overpaying as well. The interests of all parties can only be aligned if there is complete transparency from everyone involved in the offering process. The following steps are suggested to ensure a fair and swift closing during the offer process: 1) Be sure that all sides involved in the negotiation are clear about what process the negotiation and closing will follow. 2) The recruiter confirms if the employer would like to present an offer to the candidate, and likewise, if the candidate would like to join the company. It is important to separate this point from salary for two reasons. Firstly, if a candidate’s desire to join a company is based primarily on money rather than career growth or a sincere interest in the employer, at least in Japan, these hires do not tend to be successful, often leaving for the next employer with a higher salary. Secondly, if there is no mutual desire to engage in an employment agreement, there is simply nothing to negotiate! 3) After clearly confirming with the candidate all details of the candidate’s current compensation package, the recruiter asks and confirms with the candidate what level and format a new compensa-tion package should take, such that the candidate will accept the offer and be motivated to join and perform in the new role. During this process, naturally, the recruiter must also caution the candidate against asking for too much salary, as it can create unachievable performance expectations on behalf of the employer. Furthermore, unrealistic expectations for money can cause an em-ployer not to move forward with an offer to the prospective employee. Additionally, the recruiter must confirm with the candidate if the candidate will reject the offer if this compensation is not met. As a side note, it is rare that Japanese candidates ask for an exorbitant salary increase to change jobs, albeit some form of risk premium is desired by prospective Japanese job changers. This level of risk premium tends to be higher for Japanese candidates joining a foreign firm from a Japanese company, rather than when joining from another foreign firm. 4) The employer must then determine how strategic this specific hire is, and make their best offer, with the understanding that offering lower than the requested amount will potentially end the recruitment process there. 5) The candidate will ‘clarify’ the offer with the recruiter. If ac-cepted, great. If not, simple requests for more offer money on behalf of most strategic Japanese hires are rare, as the main motivation to change jobs in Japan is typically not just money. Given Japan’s aging society, it is important to consider that Japanese candidates are also quite motivated by position/title and career path. Furthermore, a candidate will often consider their salary/offer request reasonable, so an offer lower than what they consider reasonable will not likely be considered a negotiation tactic on behalf of the employer; rather, given the time taken in the interview process and the mental commitment the candidate will have made to the company. Candidates in Japan receiving lower than expected offers are likely to feel insulted, and may furthermore consider that the employer is not being realistic about hiring in the Japanese market – and such rumors spread. It is also not unusual for the Japanese to review the fine print and local HR policies with the employer, rather than going through the recruiter. This is not a red flag, but rather a sincere sign of interest that more often than not leads to a successful hire. Employers should welcome the chance to interact with the potential employee, allowing an extra opportunity to establish a more personal bond that is so important to candidates here. 6) In the case that the company cannot match a candidates’ salary By Jason Hatchell FEATURE Talent Acquisition Excellence Essentials presented by HR.com | 12.2015 Submit your Articles 13


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