Industry trends / Reports

Uncovering Hiring Challenges
in Japan

1. Bridging Expectations
for English Proficiency


In the global business landscape, language proficiency, especially in English, is increasingly crucial. For companies in Japan, the pursuit of bilingual professionals poses unique challenges due to the country's low global ranking in English proficiency. A significant obstacle stems from the cultural tendency among Japanese individuals to underestimate their English skills, dissuading potential applicants from positions requiring fluency. This dynamic narrows the candidate pool, impacting recruitment efforts.

Japan ranks 87th of 113 countries in English language proficiency. Source: EF English Proficiency Index

Companies expressing a preference for fluent English must critically evaluate the necessity of such proficiency for each role. Reassessing language requirements allows employers to broaden the candidate pool without compromising job suitability. Adding to the complexity is the overarching issue of a candidate shortage, with intense competition for talent due to a two-decade trend of two job openings for every job seeker.

To navigate these challenges, strategic hiring approaches are essential. Companies should explore alternative recruitment channels, invest in language training for existing employees, and reevaluate language proficiency requirements, especially considering the tendency of Japanese individuals to underestimate their English abilities. Adopting a flexible mindset and adapting recruitment strategies to the unique dynamics of the Japanese labor market are key to effectively addressing complexities in hiring bilingual professionals. This not only ensures a diverse and inclusive workplace but also contributes to overcoming the hurdles associated with language proficiency in the Japanese business context.

At BRS, we specialize in the recruitment of bilingual professionals in Japan and are well-versed in the challenges associated with hiring in this unique landscape. We provide contingency recruitment service as well as RPO service including consulting. If you wish to gain deeper insights into the Japanese hiring market, please do not hesitate to reach out. Our commitment is to support your recruitment endeavors and contribute to the success of your business.

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