How Recruiting Companies in Japan Are Connecting Foreign Grads with Global Careers

By W. Tanner Kirk | With Gaurav Malhotra | Takashi Matsuki
Posted: March 15th, 2024
Kokorozashi
How Recruiting Companies in Japan Are Connecting Foreign Grads with Global Careers

As the nation grapples with a shrinking labor force, recruiting companies in Japan that specialize in foreign talent are in high demand.

Gaurav Malhotra, CEO Founder of Hire Pundit Japan K.K., a global people consulting firm operating in India, Japan, and the United States, specializes in connecting dynamic companies with exceptional global IT and Engineering talent. After graduating from GLOBIS University, he saw an opportunity to bridge the cultural divides that prevent many foreign professionals an opportunity to access Japan’s vibrant job market.

It’s not enough to fill positions—it’s about actively shaping the future of employment in Japan.

Insights staff sat down with Malhotra to get an inside perspective of a foreign-focused Japan hiring agency, exploring the challenges and opportunities that foreign professionals experience hunting for some of the most popular jobs in Japan.

Japan’s Hiring Agencies Are Redefining the Workforce

Insights Staff: Could you give us a bit of background on your career?

Malhotra: I started my career twenty years ago at a ‘Big Five’ advisory and audit consulting firm and spent most of my career in India and Japan as a strategy consultant for dynamic companies that wish to grow in the India-Japan corridor.

I moved to Japan as an expat eleven years ago, and from there my main role was to act as a strong bridge between Indian and Japanese People in the business community who aspire to work together. I was helping Japanese companies get a foothold in India and create a gateway to Japan for many Indian IT and Manufacturing Companies who looked at Japan as strategic market to enter to start growing their businesses globally.

I found that India and Japan had a lot of synergistic potential in the B2C and B2B markets. However, I also observed a lot of issues stemming from cultural misunderstanding and disagreements between Indian and Japanese management, and that was incredibly difficult to navigate. I’ve been in the middle of heated conference room arguments simply because the corporate philosophies of two cultures can be so different.

Through those challenging experiences, it become clear to me that the problem that needed to be solved was not ideological, but cultural. I wanted to help executives navigate their thoughts and learn to approach each other and execute unique strategies built on cultural adaptation and fit.

Insights Staff: Was it the culmination of these experiences that inspired you to start Hire Pundit? What were your main goals at the Inception of the company?

Malhotra: My experiences working with Japanese companies helped me realize that to work together effectively, we need to look at the softer aspects of culture and navigate between cultural norms. I truly believe cultural fluency is a fundamental prerequisite for success in corporate environments, particularly in markets as culturally nuanced as Japan.

This led us to start cross-culture management training as the core of our business, but it wasn’t easy to scale. We needed to focus on building an entire ecosystem and we knew that people would be at the core.

We were on a mission to build a culturally competent workforce capable of thriving in today’s interconnected global landscape.

So, just three months into our business, we moved into recruitment to further our mission.

We didn’t want to simply show people how to communicate with each other. We wanted to help connect the right people to each other, too.

Insights Staff: What advice do you have for MBA graduates preparing to enter the global job market?

Malhotra: It’s all about having a close-knit network. For example, I’m a graduate of GLOBIS University, so naturally I am tapped into that network—the greater GLOBIS community. We’ve personally hired a student directly after she graduated from GLOBIS as well.

In addition to direct hires, we’ve successfully placed two other GLOBIS graduates, including Takashi-san.

The underlying similarity among all three instances of success lies in their shared values and sentiments, which were cultivated during their time at GLOBIS. This shared foundation resonates among them and facilitates connections with other professionals of similar mindsets. These connections play a pivotal role during the job-hunting process and makes a significant difference.

 


 


 

After graduating from GLOBIS University’s Part Time Online program, Takashi Matsuki landed his current job as Country Manager of Katsuyama Pharma K.K., a subsidiary of the Swiss Japanese group Extrovis. Mr. Matsuki offers advice to new MBA graduates based on his own experiences in the corporate world post-graduation.

Insights Staff: What was your experience studying at GLOBIS? How did your experience help prepare you to re-enter the job market?

Takashi: When I joined the Part Time MBA at GLOBIS University, I made a promise to myself that I would become a general manager in the global pharmaceutical industry.

I think gaining the understanding that I have the power to determine my own path in life was the most important lesson I learned from GLOBIS. I see now that the Part Time MBA curriculum was very practical and applicable to my day-to-day operations as a general manager.

After graduating from GLOBIS, I’ve held five general manager positions across three organization in Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan over the past 8 years.

Insights Staff: Could you briefly explain what your new job entails?

Takashi: I currently hold the title of Country Manager at Katsuyama Pharma K.K. I’m responsible for developing the organization’s strategies within Japan, mostly through helping the EXTROVIS Group (our parent company) find new Japan-oriented pharmaceutical manufacturing contracts and build our global supply chain network.

Insights Staff: What advice do you have for other MBA graduates looking to take the next step in their career in Japan?

Takashi: Please do not forget the simple message we learn at GLOBIS; Adversity will make you stronger.

I have experienced a mix of good and bad times in my career after GLOBIS, across five different general manager roles. What I’ve found is that the worst experiences are the most important for external stakeholders.

You need to stay durable through the difficult periods in your career. That’s what is most important.

How Recruiting Companies in Japan Are Influencing Global Talent Acquisition

Insights Staff: What obstacles do MBA graduates face in the Japanese job market?

Malhotra: First off, it’s important to focus on your Japanese skills. There’s an overwhelming phobia of speaking Japanese from a lot of MBA graduates, but at the end of the day, there’s only so much advice one can give regarding the language barrier.

Beyond that, when interviewing for a job in Japan, it’s very important to showcase how you are good fit for both the company and the role during an interview. This is crucial to make a positive impression on hiring managers.

Many fresh graduates tend to get caught up in explaining themselves and their personality—focusing on what the company can do for them and their career goals. But this is the exact opposite of what Japanese companies want to hear from a new hire.

In Japanese companies, it’s a lot less about who you are and a lot more about what you can do and the skills you have. Focus on how your skills, experiences, and accomplishments align with the requirements of the role.

Insights Staff: What challenges did you face getting Hire Pundit Japan off the ground?

Malhotra: As a recruiting startup, we knew we had to build our candidate database as quickly and efficiently as possible. We also face the same issues that any other Japanese company faces these days regarding shrinking labor forces. But to take things a step further, we needed to find international candidates with solid experience working in Japan as well as ensure they meet the stringent compliance standards in Japan.

We work with candidates from all over the world, people from Japan, America, China, India, Vietnam, etc.

It was a real challenge to not only source these candidates but also facilitate the cross-cultural communication that is required to not only get these candidates hired but also make sure the Japanese clients are comfortable with the process as is the candidate.

Insights Staff: Are there any specific strategies that you employ to do that?

Malhotra: We have an actual physical playbook that we give to our recruiters when they join us. The playbook walks them through different processes and recruitment styles, using actual case studies from past job placements.

Besides that, nobody in our team comes from a recruitment background. We’ve brought in people who come from a variety of backgrounds like law, compliance specialists, etc.

These diverse professionals bring change how we look at recruiting, breaking the standard and stereotypical way of working in recruiting agency. Everything is looked at, discovered, challenged, and solved, from a fresh perspective. This gives us a distinctive service to provide our clients and candidates. These skill sets help us make sure our candidates are set up for success from the very beginning.

In other words, rather than simply focusing on getting them hired and then leaving them in the dust, we’re striving to make sure our candidates are the best fit for their future organizations while also helping them navigate corporate Japan.

Prioritize Your Passion

Insights Staff: What final piece of advice would you give to foreign nationals looking to work in Japan after graduation?

Malhotra: Bespoke your passion.

Good attitude and good capability are a rare combination these days. We often find people around us with a great attitude, but maybe less professionally capable. Or we find someone with awesome credentials, but they don’t have the right attitude to fit into a company’s culture.

The advice we give our job seekers is that they must strike the right balance between these things, doing not only what you love to do, but also what you’re good at doing. This will allow you to pave the way ahead in your career.

Remember that even the smallest actions can make a significant impact when driven by a shared vision of positive change and a commitment to making a difference.

To give your best, there is only one mantra. Whatever endeavor you pursue let your passion guide you and let your determination fuel you as you strive for excellence.

Jump to...