Randstad Professionals Japan: Leadership Series 2 of 3 (The Role of Recruiters in Japan for the New Economy)

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This is part 2 of the Leadership Series and it was great to get Cameron’s insight into how they have adapted and stayed ahead of the curve during these challenging times. Follow the Randstad Professionals story and stay tuned for more thought leadership content on the Randstad Professionals page on the Motionworks Careers site. 

Coffee for Closers (Episode 19):  Cameron Brett, Managing Director of Randstad Professionals Japan talks about “The Role of Recruiters in Japan for the New Economy”

For more information about Randstad Professionals Japan, please visit their website here:https://www.randstad.co.jp/professionals/


(Brad)  Hi, this is Brad and welcome to another episode of Coffee for Closers. My guest today is Cameron Brett, Managing Director of Randstad Professionals Japan. Cameron, thanks for joining us again.


(Cameron)  Thanks for having me Brad.


(Brad)  Yeah, this is really just kind of a follow up interview. Obviously, you said many industries have been impacted. So, internally, how have you restructured your teams to compensate for that?


(Cameron)  So, I wouldn’t say that it was a restructuring of teams so to speak but we reallocated resources based on the industries that were hiring as well as the knowledge base of consultants.

So, there’s a little bit of a grey area that exists between certain parts of the manufacturing industry and tech. For example, IOT or companies that are hiring a lot of software engineers in the automotive space. And so, we were able to reallocate some of our manufacturing consultants into our tech team so that they could cover companies that were hiring but also use the knowledge that they’ve gained and also, the candidate relationships that they have.

Also, we shifted some of our manufacturing consultants from covering automotive to covering energy, which we feel has a lot more hiring happening in the energy space than in automotive.


(Brad)  Actually, that’s quite an interesting point, obviously, because the recruiting industry is so specialized. I mean do you see that as kind of a trend?

(Cameron)  I see 2 points to answer that question. The first one is I believe tech I believe tech is pervasive across all industry verticals as well as the function spaces. Whether you’re covering accounting and finance, supply chain, HR, life sciences, every headhunter working in 2020 needs to be literate about the digital space.  And they need to understand technology, at least in terms of being able to match candidates to positions because it’s becoming, as I said, more pervasive

and more grey area that’s existing between industries.  So, that’s one point, and that understanding technology and being more aware of what’s happening in the world in terms of new technology that’s coming out allows people to be adaptable allows consultants to move in between industries or functions more easily.

And second is I personally believe that we’re first and foremost recruitment specialists. We’re focused in our industry plus we have a specialization in an industry or function. And myself, I’ve recruited across life sciences, manufacturing and I started my career doing accounting and finance.  And so that’s 3 very different areas. And I was always able to build up my client base and build up my candidate network within those areas. And I think it made me a better recruiter. So, I think it’s a good thing for recruiters to be flexible and to move across industries or functions.  However, I do understand that some people are really passionate about a certain space and it’s okay for them to stay there as well.


(Brad)  Definitely. And that’s a valid point. I think wherever we are in our industry or in our role in the company we do have to pivot and shift accordingly. so that’s good that you offer that platform. I guess my next lead in is really talking about in terms of the client relationship. Can you expand a little more on what you guys have done with the client relationship.


(Cameron)  Sure. What has happened in the market, and it’s similar to what happened at the global financial crisis, was there’s been a shift in focus from the recruitment industry from a candidate-centric market to more of a client-centric market. Now, the change in the economic conditions is not going to change the demographics of Japan and we do have, there’s just not enough people in this country and that will continue to create challenges from a recruitment perspective.

However, there’s been a significant change in the dynamics of the market which means that recruitment companies are now more focused on clients. And actually, I don’t think that necessarily it’s a bad thing. I think it will make a lot of changes in our industry where we’ll become more like other markets,  whether it’s the US or UK which are more advanced markets that take a more client-centric approach and have more sophisticated ways of engaging with clients.

But what it means is that, as a consultant working on a desk, you have less reasons less reasons to pick up the phone and call a client.  So, if a client has told you they’re not hiring or they’re on a slowdown of hiring  or they’re not able to interview because they don’t have the capability to do video interviewing and that sort of thing, it becomes more challenging for a consultant to engage and maintain the relationship with the client.

However, that doesn’t mean we should stop talking to them.  Or it doesn’t mean we should keep calling them every week and asking the same questions and just being an annoyance. So, what we’ve introduced is something that we call Valid Business Reason. VBR is the acronym for it. And every consultant needs to have a VBR to pick up the phone to talk with a client. And the VBR that we’re using is marketing content based on things like Safely Back to Work or next week we’re launching some marketing content about maintaining your employer brand during a crisis. On a weekly basis we’ll be bringing new content that we’ll be able to share with our clients leveraging what we’re doing globally but then localizing into the Japanese market and providing a lot of the content in both Japanese and English.

And so this is how we feel we can continue to maintain relationships with clients that aren’t hiring and we continue to partner with them and add value so that we can still have that same level of relationship once the hiring restarts.


(Brad)  Where do you see the trend, in terms of what we’re doing as recruiters as our job and where the relationship is going with the client?


(Cameron)  So, I think there’s going to be 2 main shifts in what’s required of a consultant and the first will be, as I mentioned before, I believe that clients will make more sophisticated purchasing decisions which will require a different level of engagement from the consultant. And I believe that companies will start trending towards what we see in more advanced recruitment markets like the US, the UK, other markets in Europe or even other markets in Asia like Singapore and Hong Kong where clients are looking for regional and global partners.

They’re looking for companies that can offer multiple solutions, so not just a perm recruiter, not just a staffing recruiter not just an outsourced IT recruiter, but a company that can provide more of a broader portfolio of solutions. They are going to be looking for a single point of contact, a key account manager who knows them strategically and can work with them and it’s more of a consolidated approach.

And I believe this will be a big shift for recruiters in Japan, who aren’t used to dealing with things like how do you get on a PSL.  If you’re not on a PSL in Singapore or Hong Kong or the US, you’re not working with a client. But in Japan clients have been so desperate for candidates. that they’ve been working with whichever recruiters come to them who can bring them a candidate.

But I think as the market shifts, you’re going to see client becoming more sophisticated and requiring more of their consultants. And frankly, I think this is a good thing.  This is the evolution of our market. Japan is still far behind the rest of the world in many ways when it comes to recruitment.  And I think part of that has been the difficulty of recruitment in Japan.

And I don’t necessarily think Japan is going to become easier to recruit in but I do think there will be, at least in the short term, talent will be more available.


(Brad)  Thanks again for joining us. Again, this is Brad from Coffee for Closers. And again, thanks Cameron for joining us.  Stay tuned for more great content and we’ll definitely be following up with Cameron and Randstad Professionals Japan in the future. Cameron, thanks again.


(Cameron)  Thank you very much.



Brad is Managing Director of Motionworks K.K., a media consulting company in Japan.  He is passionate about helping people develop themselves personally and professionally and working with companies to help build their brands.

Feel free to contact Brad directly if you have any questions about this article or just want to talk shop.