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Trends by industry and job function and the key to success in mid-career recruitment in 2021 【Human Resources and General Affairs​】

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Posted by en world Japan

2 months ago

Significant impact on personnel system such as shifting to working from home system

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only resulted in a significant impact on hiring trends in the HR area for 2020 but also brought a clear demand on HR organizations to address issues on employee safety and the need to establish or adjust existing Work From Home systems (WFH). ​

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the en world HR and Corporate Services Team have remained in close contact with a large number of senior leaders in the Japan HR market, sharing and facilitating information exchange on best practices between our customers. We have one of the largest HR teams in the Tokyo market with strong connections across all industries and HR functions. These are the trends we can pull from hiring data and conversations with HR professionals in the market. 

​HR Agenda - A Change in Priorities​

​Many HR initiatives planned for 2020 had to stand down in priorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From late Q1 and early Q2 high urgency and focus was put on ensuring the health and safety of employees, followed by rules for WFH. ​

We have seen a distinct difference between companies in their readiness to roll-out WFH, from companies existing flex- or remote work systems and ready access for needed equipment such as laptop PCs, to companies in need of a complete start from scratch. In Q3 and Q4, the focus shifted to how HR can partner with the business and internal stakeholders to address the changes in the market and new work conditions, as well as to how to care for employees both in terms of monitoring their wellbeing and ability to be productive.

HR Managers, HRBP, and C&B functions 
Have been focused on rolling out changes to HR/Company policies in the wake of WFH, but also handling performance issues of employees and in some cases reduction in the work force. ​

L&D functions 
Have been tasked with upskilling and reskilling the workforce. Moving training content online, educating managers on how to lead remote teams and training members on how to handle their work remotely. ​

Recruiting / TA functions 
There has been a need of revamping the hiring process, moving it online. We have seen several innovative solutions such as virtual office tours in order to give prospective job seekers a good insight into the company and workplace without the need to physically visit the office. ​

For HR Operations / HRIS 
The key focus has been supporting the digitization of processes while New Business Models and Organization Structures emerge.​


​The consensus among HR leaders is that there will be a permanent impact on work style and Company/HR rules even after the COVID-19 crisis is resolved. Many companies plan to keep a more flexible work style going forward, both in terms of employee engagement but also in terms of cost savings that can be realized from a reduction in office space. This will mean a clear and increased demand for HR professionals that can plan, roll-out, and operate corresponding frameworks.


HR Hiring Trends – Industry and Role Types

​We have seen a clear difference in hiring between different industries and the various expertise areas of HR.


HR Hiring Trends by industry

​IT/Tech and Healthcare
Have seen the highest demands in the hiring of HR professionals, both for replacement and new headcount roles. ​

E-commerce and Online content/services​
Has seen the largest increase in new headcounts in HR. ​

Manufacturing, Industrial​
Have seen medium hiring demands for HR professionals. There is a high variance in hiring between the different industry segments, but automotive and automotive parts manufacturer has stood out as the most positive. ​

Consumer Goods and Retail​
Had a slow Q1 and Q2 with low demands (especially for apparel retailers during the lockdown) but picked up in Q3 and Q4. 

Hospitality and travel industry ​
Have for obvious reasons seen a drastic decrease in hiring for the HR area. Reduction in the workforce has been commonplace, including in the HR area. ​​

Financial Services industry​
The number of HR hiring in the Financial Services industry has been low, but to note this is an industry where the HR function has been stable over the last couple of years and we mainly see replacement hires.

HR hiring trends by job function

HR Heads and HRBPs ​
Remained in surprisingly high demand considering the market situation. It shows that no matter if the market is up or down, there is a need for strategic HR professionals with the capability to partner with the business. ​

TA and Recruiters​
The need for TA and Recruiters has gone down in 2020, but this was from an exceptionally high demand level last year so the market for TA professionals remains relatively good. Many global companies in Japan have used the overall slowdown in hiring to optimize their TA spend. Therefore, we have seen strong demand for ex-agency recruiters who can address needs indirect sourcing and managing online employer branding. For the same reason, RPO has also become a more popular solution in the Japanese market. ​

C&B and HR Operations ​
We have mainly seen the need for replacement hires. However, we have seen a demand for higher expertise in New Benefit Program Designs and People Analytics. ​

L&D and TM/OD ​
The demand has been noticeably low, on the other hand, the supply of strong talents in this area has been low for several years which has meant L&D and TM/OD market remain very competitive and salaries are being pushed up. ​​

HRIS / HR Operations​
The trend continues for the increasing demand for talents capable of digitization, data, and people analytics. That said, the bulk of the hiring has been replacement searches for operational level talents.


The trend in the number of job orders and YoY comparison​
(Human Resources and General Affairs)​



Human Resource and General Affairs Division​
Sales Team Manager​
Oscar Lundin​


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