Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan

Aug 30, 2023

The Ongoing Nightmare Of Small Business Recruiting

 There are more jobs than candidates in Japan and this situation will only worsen from the boss’s viewpoint.  Those halcyon days of wading through a big pile of resumes and tossing most away, have well and truly gone.  If you get any resumes these days, you think you should go and buy a takurakuji (lottery) ticket, because your luck is obviously in.  Counterintuitively, in some of the high tech industries, whole teams of internal recruiters are being fired, because the demand for that industry is down and over hiring during Covid now requires firing people.  In most industries though, there is demand for staff, but they are hard to find in Japan.  Job mobility here is much less than in Western countries and so the people who are interested in looking for a new job, may not be the people you want to hire.

 Big companies, who can pay big base salaries and add various incentives, will always be in a strong position to hire staff.  They can afford to pay the numbers required for the quality they seek.  For the rest of us, we are duking it out in the alleyway, trying to find a decreasing resource, whose availability is declining.  Recruiting companies are swamped with demand and are starved of supply, so they are in a position where they will recommend people they know are not really a fit, because they have so few alternatives.

 So what do you do – compromise on quality for the sake of having a body with a pulse or wait for better people to turn up?  In the hospitality industry, these compromises are taking place a lot more than before.  A lot of people migrated away from the industry after the tumultuous upending of the economy because of Covid.  Hotels are looking down the barrel of increased tourist demand for stays and not enough staff to clean the rooms and run the Hotel services.  The release of Chinese tourists from the no-travel ban by the Xi Jinping government will just add more fuel to the fire, as the numbers ramp up even further.

 I have noticed it myself, in the decline on service quality in restaurants I regularly frequent.  I was in one recently and the woman serving my table was new, untrained, obviously didn’t like people and clearly hated her job.  I bumped into the restaurant owners not long after that and mentioned it to them.  I prefaced my remarks by saying I wasn’t complaining and that I was sympathising that this environment is one where getting staff requires more flexibility than before and they thanked me for pointing it out.  It doesn't fix their problem though.

 I have had four resumes for salespeople to look at over the last ten months, which in itself tells you a lot.  Three of them had mental health problems, some declared and some hidden.  None of those made it.  The one who was mentally healthy was so poorly presented it was a clear case of no common sense and so he can’t be placed in front of clients.  Sales is all about first impressions and his job was to sell me on hiring him and he clearly had very little awareness about that or about how he presents himself.  What would you think of a salesperson who turns up for the interview with a very cheap pen hanging from the outside suit jacket pocket, like some propeller head?  In his late forties, he hasn’t worked out that brown shoes shouldn’t be matched with a black belt, that the shirt cuff buttons need to be closed, as does the top button of the shirt, where you make your tie knot.  You couldn’t make this stuff up.  His resume was full of short term stays and a lot of moving around.  That isn’t a negative for me, depending on the reason for the short stays and constant movement.  In this case, it was a bit too short and too frequent.

 Today, I wouldn’t take him, but who knows what I will be doing in a few month’s time, if there are so few candidates or the subsequent candidates are worse?  This is the dilemma we all face in small business.  How far from our standards are we prepared to stray just to get someone on board?  I heard from a client recently about the chaos they were experiencing internally, as they hadn’t been able to replace someone who left with the right level of expertise and now they are getting serious grief from one of their major clients.  The replacement is just not cutting it.  As we let standards deteriorate, we start to attack our own brand and our market pricing.

 In my case, we are a training company, so I always know I can fill skill gaps with training – lots of training.  A lack of common sense though is probably not going to be something I can easily fix or would even bother to work on.  If you are in your forties and you cannot dress yourself properly, then forget it.  My impression is we are all going to take less qualified people and spend a lot more time onboarding and training them, to compensate for their deficiencies.  Is this in the plan or in the budget?  If it isn’t, then I suggest now would be a good time to start working on both.