Terrie's Take 895 - Tips on How to Recruit Senior Sales People in 2017, e-biz news from Japan

Terrie's Take terrie at mailman.japaninc.com
Mon May 8 00:09:11 JST 2017

* * * * * * * * TERRIE'S TAKE - BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term 
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan. 

General Edition Sunday, May 07, 2017, Issue No. 895

- What's New -- Tips on How to Recruit Senior Sales People in 2017
- News -- Bomb shelter companies flooded with inquiries
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- Mountain fun in Biwako, Farm animals in Chiba
- News Credits

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Back in March (TT-889), we ran a news item on how recruiting fees in 
Japan are soaring. To us this is proof positive of the elevated level of 
competition for skilled employees going on currently, since the 
recruiters making those higher fees are usually a last resort for 
Japanese firms. Indeed, before going to a recruiter, a company will 
first try more traditional lower-cost methods such as: university 
contacts, employee introductions, job fairs, and of course job sites. 
Data from www.tradingeconomics.com (a great data site, btw), shows that 
job ads are near their recent peak, the peak being 527,800 ads in early 
2015. Clearly demand outstrips supply and as a result, recruiters, who 
are also prolific job board listers, are doing a roaring trade.

This increasing use of recruiters is caused by the following major factors:
1. The tight labor market which is caused by the mass retirement of 
almost 10m people now in their 60's, the so-called "dankai" generation, 
thus creating a black hole for experienced staff in many companies.
2. A mismatch of skills to job availability. Lots of factory workers, 
not enough software developers.
3. The lower yen, making the manufacturing of some high-value, high-tech 
products viable again within Japan - if only they could find the workers.
4. The huge increase in inbound tourism, fueled by both the low yen and 
visa easing, which is soaking up the supply of bilinguals.
5. The need for bilinguals not just here in Japan but also for major 
Japanese firms embarking on global expansion to supplement the market 
shrinkage back at home.

So, should you get into the recruiting business? Our view is that 
getting in at the top of the market is never a good idea, and if you 
believe in historical patterns, the last up-trending cycle for job ads 
was from 2000-2007 (not much impact in Japan caused by the dot.com 
bust), with that cycle being punctured finally by the Lehman Shock. In 
contrast, the current bull market in jobs started in 2010, making it 7 
years already, and it may continue for another 2-3 years if there are no 
external shocks. Trump being impeached, having a trade or territorial 
fight with China, or getting into a Middle Eastern war would all 
comprise suitable shocks that could upend the market. And you'll recall 
that in times of global instability, the yen strengthens and this knocks 
Japanese exports (including Inbound Tourism) significantly. So 
recruiting will be one of the first professions to suffer.

But even as we say this, it seems that every other week an international 
recruiting firm is setting up a new office here in Japan.

------------ Japan Travel Group Tour Services -------------

Japan Travel's Type-2 licensed travel agency business is one Japan's few 
independently foreign-owned inbound DMCs. Our specialty is looking after 
groups of 10-30 people, and we have already assisted schools, 
businesses, special interest organizations, and extended family groups. 
We create unique experiences from a blend of memorable destinations, 
dining, activities, guide, and transport options.

If you have a group needing assistance, we invite them to contact us at: 
tours at japantravel.com.
Or visit our pages at: http://japantravel.co.jp/en/about/travel-agency/

[...Article continues]

But this Take is not about recruiters making money. Rather, we wanted to 
set the backdrop for the reason why it's getting more and more difficult 
to find the staff that you want, when you want them. In fact, we have 
been approached by four companies over the last 3 months for help to 
find them senior bilingual sales staff - because even after taking on 
multiple recruiters, they are still coming up empty-handed. This is not 
surprising because senior bilingual sales staff have long been one of 
the most difficult categories of skill to recruit for.

The first thing we counsel desperate corporate recruiters on is that 
there are so few "perfect" candidates they should either: i) think less 
perfectly, ii) put their business plans on hold for 6-12 months while 
they keep scouring and interviewing, or iii) increase the offering 
salary so much that it is hard to ignore. Such is the demand for 
specific skills that the salary difference between so-called perfect 
senior sales candidates and country managers are now starting to blur. 
Top sales guys in the digital field at companies such as Yahoo and 
Google are fetching base salaries of JPY15m-JPY20m, and this is before 
commissions or bonuses. In comparison you can still get a country 
manager for JPY20m-JPY30m.

One strategy to leverage this shrinking gap is to recruit the candidate 
as a sales director first, then hold out the prospect of becoming the 
country manager role if they are successful in the job.

If we can get your HR department back home past the idea that they don't 
need a perfect candidate, the next thing to focus on is what can be 
imperfect and yet still be acceptable? The easiest thing logistically is 
for them to forget the need for the candidate to be bilingual. Yes, it 
would be great if they could participate in global strategy meetings and 
produce western-style reports in natural English. However, there are 
millions of competent, productive sales people in the Japanese 
workforce, and most of them (90%-plus) don't speak English. So until you 
came along with your super-interesting "international" job in Japan, 
they probably never needed to speak it.

Therefore, we tell our clients to recognize reality on the ground and 
instead reorganize their company rules. By all means make the country 
manager a competent bilingual, but for the sales director consider going 
with monolingual candidates with strong track records. Surely a person 
with the track record and a personal network of million-dollar accounts 
is more valuable to the firm than a witty but excuse-laden 
under-achiever with good English? Unfortunately, you'd be surprised how 
many head office HR departments don't get this point.

Anyway, one tip we mention early on is to avoid being enraptured by 
high-touch bilingual communicators who job-hop around the market every 
18-24 months but who don't really seem to get anything done. You know 
the type: they have spent so much time acquiring English and a foreign 
persona they have had to sacrifice time that should have been invested 
in human networks, technical knowledge, and putting together real deals. 
Instead, make sure that the HR team focuses on the candidate's track 
record and figures out a language workaround to get real results.

The second best way to onboard a talented salesperson is to get someone 
who comes from a different field entirely and to train them. We are only 
referring to experienced workers, not fresh graduates - who come with 
their own baggage. There is always some sector of the compressing 
Japanese domestic market that is under pressure and where companies are 
having to shed experienced staff, including bilingual staff. For us in 
the travel sector, for example, this is clearly companies who are in the 
domestic Japanese and outbound travel markets, since Japanese are 
traveling less as they get older and their salaries are remaining 
stagnant (for now).

So, we look at those companies and study their weaknesses. In particular 
we look for firms that were recently taken over and where the staff feel 
that the business is losing its own identity (this makes the employees 
feel the equivalent of a member of their family dying, and is very 
unsettling), or if there is outright bloodshed as existing management 
try to crash land the business. Although you can use a motivated 
recruiter to take you in, because it's hard to get past the gatekeepers 
by yourself, the best way in is usually through personal relationships 
and introductions. For this reason, we maintain a wide network of 
friends and allies, who trust us and trust us with their friends.

Lastly, in pulling individuals out of suffering companies, be careful 
not to import someone who was part of the cancer. In particular there 
are some brandname firms out there in which the Japanese and foreign 
staff are permanently feuding, and where the losers from these battles 
become embittered. You may not see the bitterness to start with, because 
especially if the candidate is over 40 years old they probably need your 
job to survive. So they will hide their true nature for 6-12 months 
until they are comfortable in the role. But then they start to reveal 
their toxic natures and infect your other team members with their 
negativity and cynicism. Getting rid of these people is a whole 'nother 
ball of wax and we wrote a series of articles about the right way to 
fire, here:


...The information janitors/



+++ NEWS

- Why avocados are getting more expensive
- Bomb shelter companies flooded with inquiries
- 99% of refugee applications refused
- Important 2nd methane hydrate test successful
- Five Eyes about to become six?

=> Why avocados are getting more expensive

If you like avocados, you will have noticed that the retail price has 
climbed from around JPY100-150 per piece to JPY150-200 in the last 
couple of months. The way things are going, the price will probably go 
up by as much again in the next 3-6 months. The causes are several-fold: 
i) a shortage of the fruit in the USA, caused mostly by drought in 
California last year, as well as strikes by pickers in Mexico, and ii) 
competition from China, as that country acquires a taste for the fruit. 
In 2016 Japan imported 74,000 tons of avocados, the US, 562,000 tons, 
and China 25,000 tons (up from just 4,000 tons in 2014). (Source: TT 
commentary from freshfruitportal.com, May 04, 2017)


=> Bomb shelter companies flooded with inquiries

Fueled by fears of a possible North Korean attack on Japan, underground 
bomb shelter companies report that inquiries for their products have 
soared in the last couple of months. For example, maker of an 
underground tube that can house 4-10 people for a few days, Earth Shift, 
has said that they are receiving about 20-50 calls per day compared with 
just 20 or so calls a year normally. The company's flagship product 
includes air filters and space for basic living functions for around 
JPY4m. They also have a larger shelter for 40-50 people which costs 
JPY30m. ***Ed: Both look uncomfortable, but if you have to chose between 
breathing in radiation and survival, discomfit wins. BTW, most of the 
inquiries are apparently coming from people living close to US armed 
forces bases, believing that these will be targeted by Pyongyang 
first.** (Source: TT commentary from asia.nikkei.com, May 03, 2017)


=> 99% of refugee applications refused

Although Japan had a record 10,901 refugee applications in 2016, up 30% 
from 2015, the country only accepted 97 people for residence for 
humanitarian reasons and an additional 26 as actual refugees. Japan 
rejects more than 99% of asylum seekers, saying that most of the 
applicants are  economic refugees rather than people genuinely 
threatened in terms of their personal safety. ***Ed: Looking at the 
stats for countries accepting asylum seekers around the world, Japan 
appears to come dead last in terms of people accepted per capita.** 
(Source: TT commentary from independent.co.uk, May 05, 2017)


=> Important 2nd methane hydrate test successful

The Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) has 
announced that it has successfully tapped and flared gas from a methane 
hydrate field off the coast of Mie-ken. This is the second successful 
experimental extraction of methane from a field locked in ice about 600m 
below the ocean surface. The gas production will run for about 4 weeks, 
and if the flow continues as planned the company will move towards 
commercial production of the enormous gas fields that surround Japan. 
***Ed: We covered in depth the promise of methane from deep ocean ice 
nine years ago in:


There is potentially 100 years worth of energy under the ocean bed in 
the form of methane hydrate. The problem with drilling for this gas is 
two-fold: i) separating the gas from the ice and sand it is locked in, 
from 600m-1.2km below the ocean surface, and ii) the high possibility of 
gas explosions as there is a runaway release of gas, since methane 
hydrate deposits are apparently very unstable.** (Source: TT commentary 
from emirates247.com,


=> Five Eyes about to become six?

Last month the secretive spying alliance Five Eyes ("FVEY" comprising 
Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, and USA) met in the exclusive 
Millbrook Estate resort in New Zealand's South Island. No doubt they 
were discussing a new agreement between Japan and the USA which was just 
signed last week. The new agreement expands on existing immigration data 
sharing (yes, if you've been to Japan, the USA knows who you are, 
including your fingerprints) by now agreeing to share cyber threat 
indicators, using the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Automated 
Indicator Sharing (AIS) platform. ***Ed: Given the parlous state of 
Japan's own cyber security skills, no doubt the AIS technology is mostly 
benefiting Japan. It would be interesting to know what kind of money 
they are paying to receive this.** (TT commentary from thehill.com May 
04, 2017)


NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of 
posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.



--------- Terrie Lloyd's Entrepreneur Seminar -------------

Have you ever thought about setting up your own company in Japan? Or, 
are you already running one and wondering how to move up to the next level?

Local Australian/Kiwi entrepreneur Terrie Lloyd, is running a seminar 
for people who want to form their own companies. Terrie has established 
17 companies in Japan over the last 34 years, and has a lot of 
experience to share about how to structure and run your business when 
first starting up. Terrie has successfully had seven M&As of previous 
companies and is currently building a software company and a travel company.

Date: May 20, 2017
Location: Roppongi, Tokyo
Details: http://bit.ly/OjWZIr


----------- ICA Event - Thursday 15th June ----------------

Speaker: Jeff Crawford, Founder and Lead Consultant of JC Digital
Title: "The Top 10 Digital Marketing Mistakes Made by Japanese Companies 
in 2017"
Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
Date: Thursday 15th June, 2017
Time: 6:30pm Doors open
Cost: 1,000 yen (members), 2,000 yen (non-members). Open to all. No sign 
ups at the door!
RSVP: By 5pm on Monday 12th June 2017
Venue: Room F, 9F, Sumitomo Fudosan Roppongi Grand Tower, 3-2-1 
Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 106-0032


No corrections today.



=> Biwako Valley, Shiga
Ski resort in winter, adventure playground in summer

Needing only an hour from central Kyoto, Biwako Valley on the western 
side of Lake Biwa can be visited as a day trip. Located 1,100 meters 
above sea level, Biwako Valley has lots to offer depending on the period 
of the year. On some weekends, special events and temporary food stalls 
are set up. A ten minute ropeway ride to the top offers amazing views of 
Lake Biwa and the surrounding town below. I visited just at the start of 
spring and there was still snow remaining halfway up the mountain.

There are two main seasons, winter season and "green" season. In winter, 
Biwako Valley turns into a snow resort boasting eight different courses, 
which are suitable for beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders. 
For non-Japanese speaking ski and snowboarding learners, there are 
lessons conducted in English as well.

In the green season (from April to middle of December), a host of summer 
activities like zip lining and sky walking cater to the adventurous. For 
more children or family orientated activities, try walking horizontally 
on a rock wall, riding a bicycle without pedals for children, water 
slides or swinging on hand-made wooden swings.


=> A Pleasant Day at Mother Farm, Chiba
Enjoy a family day doing various activities on a farm!

Mother Farm was founded by the same man who started the Sankei Shimbun 
newspaper and financed the Tokyo Tower. It is a large piece of land 
which houses many different animals, has an attractions area, a 
restaurant with an observatory on its roof, access to fun activities 
such as bungee jumping and zip lining, and a few live animal shows.

It is a lot of fun for the whole family, but especially for children. 
They can join the pig race and try to catch one. They also have the 
chance to touch many farm animals, use the attractions area or create 
their own leather designed key chains. The adults will probably have to 
help with creating the key chain but it is a lot of fun and kids can 
imprint their own name on it, or even different symbols or animal prints.

I would recommend this for both adults and children, it is a fun area 
and looks amazing in the summer, and of course, you can taste some 
delicious ice cream made with farm fresh milk.




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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd at japaninc.com)

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