The evolution of TA brought by the COVID-19 pandemic
The world of work in Japan is evolving. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen companies, regardless of size, have their organizations impacted, and Talent Acquisition is also a key function I have seen impacted, and a rising trend of change within.
Until the beginning of FY2020, the usual trend of foreign capital companies in Japan was that Japan's local HR/TA divisions had Japan-specific processes and workflows that were different from the headquarter. This was quite a big question mark to global leaders, as to why Japan was so different and could not align with their global processes and approach to Talent Acquisition.
However, I have seen quite a drastic change this year. During which, some Japan TA processes that up till now, traditionally have been said to have not been possible within the local market, due to the way the Japan market is, have been effectively proved to be possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the change it drove. This change and requirement to evolve how companies worked essentially forced companies to change their approach not only within Talent Acquisition but potentially their business, as a whole.
In today's market where agile approaches are needed, companies that are effectively re-turning around and evolving their strategies are beginning to see the following changes:
・ LESS EXCEL and more CRM/ATS Adoption and more focus on TA team usage and integration within the business, and their stakeholders, due to the requirement of proper reporting and performance management, as well as talent pooling.
・ A big change in how TA Teams view their approach to talent acquisition including revisiting key channels such as employee referrals, and their brand positioning in the market, and other external branding approach to empower attraction from lower-cost channels with a higher quality of hire.
・Revisiting the traditional approach to agency usage and a greater emphasis on other talent attraction solutions to optimize overall spend, with a bigger focus on direct sourcing. Agencies, of course, are still very much relevant, but I have also seen companies revisit their approach to the assessment of the vendors they work with.
・More utilization of non-FTE options for local TA organizations, and more utilization of non-FTE service providers that can quickly scale/descale, due to the flexibility and agility required in constantly changing demands from TA and evolving hiring plans.
・ A large focus and emphasis on overall cost optimization, with more usage of HR technology and a larger focus on cost optimization and Direct Sourcing based hiring and fulfillment.
The above are just a few points to mention, but I believe 2021 will prove to be a pivotal year for how we approach Talent Acquisition as a whole in Japan, and more integration of new technologies and solutions, outside of the “standard” approach most TA organizations have taken to date.
While the change may be slow, depending on the company’s ability to pivot, major differences will be seen this year than in prior years, around Talent Acquisition Strategies.
The change in job seekers' behavior brought by the COVID-19
The world of work for job seekers in Japan is also evolving. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a change in a traditional job seekers' behavior as well as more usage of rating websites, when choosing their next employer.
The number of job openings was decreased
Job seekers became more conservative
During 2020, we saw a very volatile hiring market with many companies scrambling to adjust their hiring plans for the year, due to the disruption caused by COVID-19. Not only was this seen in clients, but also job seekers, as due to this volatility and Japan's conservative nature, we did see a large drop in overall open jobs and talent acquisition.
Most job board providers faced similar challenges and also reported that talent acquisition or newly registered job seekers every month had dropped to sometimes 50% or more, compared to prior years. This has improved within the year, but we are seeing that job seekers have taken a much more conservative approach to a job change in 2020.
Young people place more importance on flexibility of working style
This being said, the younger generation (20s~30s) has been changing their approach to choosing a company and moving away from traditional channels like job boards and more social media-based hiring sites, as well as a much higher emphasis on working style flexibility compared to their senior generation. This is a trend we have seen happen before COVID-19, but I feel that this pandemic has further solidified this, as job seekers watch various companies' approach that they take to their internal employees during this year of extreme hiring volatility.
The Japanese seller market remains unchanged
Corporate evolution is required
Overall, we saw an increase in people looking to revisit and proceed with their career advancement and job change compared to earlier in 2020. This trend will continue based upon the statistics of jobs open vs available job seeker ratio improvements seen in the later stages of the year. It is only a matter of time before Japan becomes a highly job seeker-driven market.
With job seekers having much more visibility and access to information and market average salary, to make better-informed choices, on which company suits their personal goals best. Japan has always been a job seeker-driven market, and while we have seen a more positive sign in importing talent, to meet the ever-rising demand, I believe it will still take quite some time before Japan's talent shortage is alleviated.
In 2020, when recruitment activity stagnated, it was also a year in which various companies took measures against COVID-19 and worked to create their hiring brands that will lead to the future in the recruitment market. Those who want to change jobs are also aware of it. The fact that we can set forward-looking goals and develop our stance on COVID-19 to improve our brand will also be a major factor in the company's future.
How to succeed with mid-career recruitment with COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 (English)
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