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Recruitment for the SME

Recruitment for the SME

about 1 year ago
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In Japan, SMEs with limited HR and tight budgets, have unique hiring challenges, balancing between HQ needs and the local market. In addition, for the busy Manager,  recruitment is only one of the several duties tackled during the day.  As we mentioned on a recent FocusCore podcast, it's important to have a system in place.

Here are some ideas to help impact your hiring.

Always be recruiting.  This mindset helps you proactively search for talent by building a solid online and offline network. Be active on social media, especially LinkedIn, but in Japan remember Facebook and Twitter. Off-line, attend networking events. Lastly, build a network of trusted headhunters specialized in your area. As they constantly meet candidates and clients and hold valuable intel about the market, a coffee or lunch provides up-to-date market knowledge. 

Have a recruitment process. Keep it simple, but consistent. 

  • Write down the steps of what you currently do

  • Change and improve 

  • Without exception, follow the steps you’ve created

Here are some bullet points to help change/improve your process: 

  • Not only asking the right questions, but consider the range of answers you expect.

  • If others in the company meet candidates, ask different questions. Keep each meeting distinct. 

  • If you need specific hard skills, have the candidate demonstrate their capability. For example, if an accountant needs pivot tables, have an Excel test. If you’re hiring a trainer, have them give a short training session. Evaluate the actual skills in action. 

  • Take up 2-3 references. I hear that it’s not popular in Japan, but from my experience, it's expected. Personally take the references. It will be the best time spent! Much easier finding out about challenges prior to hiring than to spend the long hours and potentially expensive process to fire someone.  If a candidate is reluctant to give you references, then that’s a huge red flag. If you need examples of reference questions, drop me an email or ask Google. 

  • During interviews, keep your talking to a minimum. Introduce the company. Ask your questions and listen. You should only speak 20%-30% of the interview. 

  • Sell your company. Even if you know you won’t hire the candidate, sell them on why anyone would want to work for your company. Make them want to join. 

  • Train your managers and HR how to interview. Spend an afternoon and do role plays. 

Hiring mistakes are costly. If you need help or want to chat through your ideas, let me know. No process is perfect, but having one is better than none and will help cut down on mistakes. 

If you’re running a SME in Japan, drop me an email or text me. Let me know what challenges you’re facing or other topics you’d like to know about. As the Managing Director of FocusCore Group, I’ve helped companies in Japan for over 20 years focus on their core business. Feel free to reach out for comments or suggestions at