Using a Recruiter in Tokyo - My Story Part 1

By Tyson Batino August 21, 2019

This article is a part of our subsection on recruitment in Japan and an article in our massive guide to jobs in Tokyo.

Using a Recruiter in Tokyo

Here is my experience with using a recruiter in Tokyo and I hope to share with you what happened step by step, so you can prepare in advance.

Please note that this story is Japan centric and may not be of useful to entry level foreign workers as I was being recruited for middle to senior level management positions in HR. I met the requirements for most positions with my eight years of HR, recruitment, and training experience in Japan.

My Recruited Life

My recruited life all started four years ago when I was contacted out of the blue by someone in the Robert Walters Tokyo branch. I had never met that recruiter before and I had no idea how they even got my contact information. I had 1 co-worker from a previous company who had joined the firm and he was my first suspect, but I appreciated the attention and being courted for my work skills. 

The first thing that got my attention about the job opportunity was the enticing salary. I worked as an HR manager in the English industry which is Japan famous for underpaying their management staff. The salary for this opportunity was 1.6x yearly for doing the same work and was a real eye opener. I know some of you might be ready to jump ship at this moment but they did require N1 level Japanese. I was starting my current company One Coin English at the time and I was happy with how things were going, so I thanked the recruiter and asked them to consider me in the future.

Three months later and the same thing happened again. Another job offer, but this time from a different recruiter with an envious salary total and the same good ol’ generic response from me. I continued to receive job opportunity notices, but it was once or twice a year at most. I figured they got the point that I was not actively looking for work and moved on to the next hungry fellow or gal in Tokyo.

BFF Tokyo and Greg the Recruiter

Fast forward four years later and my good friend Greg who is an excellent recruiter in Tokyo in terms of results and principle contacted me about producing a series of content on the recruitment industry in Japan. He told me he was passionate about helping foreigners to understand the industry in Tokyo and recruiters, and more importantly how to use a recruiter. For me, I was interested just because I was not impressed with the content currently out there and I wanted to reduce the information gap between recruiters and job seekers. 

Seriously...now of all times to get contacted by a recruiter

As we were outlining the vision and idea for the articles on recruitment, I was contacted from someone at Robert Walters for a position in the HR realm with an eye gouging amount of money but at a senior level position which I was a bit self-conscious about. Doing all the things that I am doing in English would have been easy but doing everything in Japanese and as the leader or person responsible was something that made me think twice and second guess myself.

I had always turned down every request because I was very happy with where I was at building a seven figure business. However, this time was different though because there are no in-depth guides or articles on the recruitment industry that is not written by a recruitment firm. What better way to start my third business BFF Tokyo than by doing some investigative journalism and creating the best article on the recruitment industry anywhere with by buddy.

AB3A3991

Public Service Announcement

In addition to creating great content at BFF Tokyo, my second business is a Japanese language school in Gotanda and Shinjuku called Japan Switch. Over 140 students and counting in less than one year.

Side note : we have written the best article on how to make Japanese friends which is now ranking number one on google search. We appreciate your good taste google.

My first meeting with a recruiter

Now that I scratched that nagging self-promotional itch, let’s get back to my story. Rather than reverting to my standard “I am not looking but thank you and keep me in mind,” I leaned in and sent a message to the recruiter that I am interested and would like to know more about the position. 

The recruiter responded within several hours as they should and we arranged a time to meet in person to talk more about the position. We met for coffee at one of your standard Tokyo Starbucks near my workplace. If you have the experience and meet the requirements of a position, a recruiter will go out of your way to meet up at a place and time that is convenient for you. No need to worry about taking time off or having to meet a recruiter on your day off.

I also have the silly habit of always paying for things myself, so when I arrived early, I went and mistakenly bought myself a drink. Recruiters do have a business budget and are willing to purchase your drink. Make sure to not go too wild though and be respectful and considerate.

So I arranged my schedule and I went to meet with the recruiter from Robert Walters Tokyo. I was expecting him or her to pretty much jump straight into business and talk about the position. However, we started talking about what brought me to Japan and my thoughts about Japan in general. I asked him about his story and how he became a recruiter and then we dived into my previous work experiences and talked briefly about my ability to meet their minimum requirements.

What is your job seeking temperature?

I realized later that this first meeting was an interview but not really an interview in the sense that you weren’t sitting on the opposite side of the table with a serious tone. This chat was informally relaxed and we also talked about what I am doing now, where I want to be career wise, and what I wanted to do for work.

The recruiter was really trying to find out my temperature of wanting to change positions. The recruiter did not come out and blurt this out, but my spider sense from five years of doing recruitment internally told me the truth. My words of wisdom to job seekers from this experience is that even though you may not have all the skills required for that job, go out and meet the recruiter because they may have additional opportunities that match your capabilities and desired income or level.

The main point is that they are trying to get a feel for you as a person in general so the initial chat is not necessarily just for the opportunity they are contacting you for. When you have your initial chat just be friendly, honest and communicate clearly what your expectations are for salary, rank and level, timeline for changing jobs, commute times and locations, and what work you would like to do. The recruiter will definitely ask you these questions, so I recommend preparing it before your first meeting.

What is your job seeking temperature?

I realized later that this first meeting was an interview but not really an interview in the sense that you weren’t sitting on the opposite side of the table with a serious tone. This chat was informally relaxed and we also talked about what I am doing now, where I want to be career wise, and what I wanted to do for work.

The recruiter was really trying to find out my temperature of wanting to change positions. The recruiter did not come out and blurt this out, but my spider sense from five years of doing recruitment internally told me the truth. My words of wisdom to job seekers from this experience is that even though you may not have all the skills required for that job, go out and meet the recruiter because they may have additional opportunities that match your capabilities and desired income or level.

The main point is that they are trying to get a feel for you as a person in general so the initial chat is not necessarily just for the opportunity they are contacting you for. When you have your initial chat just be friendly, honest and communicate clearly what your expectations are for salary, rank and level, timeline for changing jobs, commute times and locations, and what work you would like to do. The recruiter will definitely ask you these questions, so I recommend preparing it before your first meeting.

Creating and Sending over my Job Resume

The next step the Robert Walters recruiter wanted was for me to produce a resume, so I hashed one out quickly in English from scratch and sent it on over. The worst news ever came next. They responded that they needed one in Japanese as well, which does not involve one but two documents! One is your resume (rirekisho) and one is a work history (shokumukeirekisho) document. I am being captain obvious now, but you will need to create if you are job hunting in Tokyo. A nice gentleman over at GaijinPot produced a pretty good article on how to do a Japanese resume and here is a good sample resume from Franchir Japan.

They also wanted me to fill up a profile form which covered some of the things we talked about in the meeting but goes much deeper. My assumption is that once they have your profile on record on file and if you are a qualified candidate for a mid-level to senior position, you will continue to receive job opportunities because you are probably recorded as an active job seeker. My recommendation is to make the profile as soon as you can and place yourself on the job seeking roster. I personally think a bigger agency has the ability to filter and search for candidates, so expect more opportunities coming your way.

After you send your resume to them, they will forward it to the clients. You will have to wait and see if you are chosen for the first stages of interviews.

Final Thoughts for Part 1

Here are some things that I did not mention that would benefit in working together with a recruiter.

1. This may not be obvious but even though you may be the best thing since sliced bread, any information you receive on positions from the recruiter are not a job offer. They are simply a job opportunity that you can apply for.

2. The job opportunity notification also contains the job description, requirements, and the skills and experience needed for the position and the duties they’re expecting you to complete if you get hired.

Thanks for reading and we will continue with part 2 later.

Debit Card and Credit card - ad image

Let us help you learn Japanese

We provide the most affordable Japanese lessons in Tokyo at our school Japan Switch

Looking for a Job?

Join our newsletter and be contacted from companies who are looking to hire awesome people like you.

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Scroll to Top