Client Newsletter – February 2020

  • Client Newsletter – February 2020

    Client Newsletter – February 2020



    The Legal market has been very busy this month with new roles coming up in some major, brand-name, global companies. The focus is on hiring qualified lawyers, and we are seeing roles outside of the usual general corporate legal specification, specialising in areas such as data protection, information security, marketing and licensing. Another trend we are noticing is a stronger emphasis in junior to mid-level roles for foreign language ability (English or Chinese), especially from Japanese companies. In many cases, candidates with minimal experience are getting offers based on their language ability, ahead of their professional experience.


    In February, activity in the Accounting and Finance job market continued to be high. In particular, there are is a lot of recruitment in the IT industry, for start-ups, and companies aiming for IPO. There were many opportunities for those with accounting and management planning experience. Even foreign-affiliated companies continue to have a large number of job openings, with a wide range of job openings, including financial accounting and FP&A positions. Due to the shortage of those in their 30s, the recruitment age group tends to spread. Companies offering a good work-life balance as part of their culture and benefits such as flextime and telework systems have, in our view, increased considerably.


    The following are some examples of offers out this month:




    • US Manufacturer – Legal Counsel – 12M
    • US Entertainment – Contracts Counsel – 10M
    • UK Law Firm – Bengoshi Associate – 14M


    Accounting & Finance


    • US Consumer company – Finance Manager – 12M
    • Japanese IT company – Internal Auditor – 12M
    • US IT Company – CFO – 15M


    Recruitment Focus – Diversity

    Continuing from November’s topic on how diversity can help your organisation, we should first recap on the main points:


    • Diversity can represent itself in many ways and is to do with gender, age, nationality, background, and even the time of year you hire
    • Companies with a diverse management team on average earned 19% more than those without, according to a Boston Consulting Group study
    • Diverse teams are more likely to come up with a variety of ideas and can solve problems faster (Harvard Business Review)
    • Your hiring will get easier – 67% of job hunters look for diversity in an organisation when they are choosing where to apply (Glassdoor)


    There are clearly many benefits to having a diverse management and workforce but it is not easy to achieve in Japan and may be difficult to introduce diversity practices to your recruitment process. This month we will look at some of the things you can do and where to focus when making changes.


    Job description

    This is usually the first step of the process and when writing a job description in English, many people don’t realize that the words they use can discourage certain groups from applying, which will crush your diversity efforts. In particular, men and women are attracted by different styles and words in job descriptions. Men are more likely to apply when strong, aggressive words and phrases are used, and women are put off. By using softer, more inclusive wording you are more likely to attract female as well as male applicants.  Some examples of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ words and phrases can be found below:


    Masculine Feminine









    We are a dominant firm that boasts many leading clients.

    We are determined to stand apart from the competition

    Ability to perform individually in a competitive environment

    Superior ability to satisfy customers and manage company’s association with them










    We are a community who have effective relationships with many satisfied clients

    We are committed to understanding our sector intimately

    Collaborates well, in a team environment

    Sensitive to clients’ needs, can develop warm client relationships



    Further, it is best to include only ‘must-haves’ in your job descriptions. Female candidates are much less likely to apply if they feel they do not satisfy all or most of the requirements on the job description, male candidates are more likely to ‘have a go’ even if they do not match exactly what is on the job description. Limiting your job description to only essential requirements should see an increase in the proportion of female applicants. Younger candidates are more likely to apply if the job description contains only very clear terms and phrases – using jargon or industry-specific terms will likely attract very senior, experienced candidates. This is fine if it is a senior role, but for mid-level or junior positions you will need to attract young talented candidates who have less working experience.

    Also, it is a great idea to include any benefits you offer such as flexible working, health insurance and parental leave – these inclusive benefits will attract candidates from working families, or who may be planning to start families in the future. It is also recommended to include any company statements on diversity and inclusion, to show your commitment to candidates who come from different backgrounds.



    Where you look for candidates will, of course, have a big impact on whether you make diverse hires or not. Employee referrals are a great way to source candidates who fit with your organisation but can also serve to ingrain the existing norms and ways of thinking. Naturally, people tend to have a network of people similar to their own background and attitudes, so their introductions will likely fit in straight away but do little to improve your diversity profile. Referrals from minority employees, on the other hand, will potentially do more to give you the benefits of diversity, so you should focus your efforts on encouraging these.


    Company policies

    You should align your company culture to include policies which appeal to diverse candidates. These may include, as mentioned before, flexible working conditions to adapt to different lifestyles and situations and an open dialogue policy to allow those from any groups in the company to freely put forward their opinions and ideas. Larger companies often have a diversity and inclusion department to facilitate this kind of communication. This may not be possible in your organisation but some of the functions can be included.

    You should be sure to promote these policies as widely as possible in company literature, on your websites, when you go to jobs fairs and generally whenever you meet with candidates but especially in interviews.



    The interview process is often where biases which stifle diversity come out. They are very difficult to get rid of as most people do not realise they have them but they can contribute to just hiring the same kinds of people you have always hired.  Some ways to reduce bias are to use blind resumes and blind screening interviews. Many companies are now receiving applications with candidate names, and sometimes the names of their schools blacked out, to avoid bias. Another growing trend is the use of AI (artificial intelligence) to carry out standardised initial interviews. This is not realistic for later rounds, when you need to speak face to face, but will remove bias from the first meeting.


    Check your biases

    As a company it is important to make sure you are aware of bias, and how it affects decision-making throughout the company, not only in the recruitment process. Of course, you should train your recruitment team to be aware of what biases may exist and how to avoid them. We looked at biases in the interview process in a previous newsletter ( and they are especially relevant when you are deciding on whom to bring in to the company.

    Creating a more diverse workforce and realising the benefits this brings will not happen overnight. It is a long a gradual process which needs to take place across the company at all levels, from front line recruiters and HR, through to line managers and senior management. Everyone needs to be aware of the issues and obstacles and work together to overcome them. Having this unity of purpose to include a wider workforce will create a more agile workforce better able to thrive in a globalised market. Once you are on the way to achieving this goal, make sure to tell everyone you meet!



    Recruitment 101- Spelling Errors on Resumes

    Should you reject a candidate with spelling errors on their resumes?


    For many recruiters, a resume with spelling or grammar errors in the candidate’s first language is reason for an instant rejection, the thinking being that if a candidate doesn’t take the care to check their resume carefully using spell-check technology, then it is unlikely they will be able to produce detailed, high-quality work. Some companies even have resume screening software which automatically eliminates any resumes with spelling errors from consideration.

    However, this very strict approach may be harming the recruiting process and hiring results and may lead to missing out on strong potential hires.


    Firstly, eliminating candidates based on spelling mistakes means that whatever professional experience they have would be discounted – a minor error such as spelling surely should not be equal to years of relevant professional experience and getting rid of such candidates will reduce the quality of your candidate pool.


    Passive candidates, who are working and probably in most demand, often do not have time to perfect their resumes or get them checked by others, whereas more active candidates who perhaps have been to many more interviews will have removed all mistakes from their profiles. It is surely a mistake to reject these talented candidates because of a rushed CV update which is likely to contain mistakes.


    You may expect to see a reduction in the number of younger candidates, who have developed their communication skills through social media, which uses a lot of slang and abbreviations and has less emphasis on grammar and spelling. A focus on spelling and grammar will dramatically reduce the diversity of applicants in your pool.  It will likely discriminate against a variety of groups based on, for example:


    Age – older candidates may have vision issues which affect their ability to spot mistakes, and younger candidates may not have the grammar skills due to the way modern generations communicate in their daily lives.


    Nationality – simply put, those writing in their second or third languages are much more likely to have spelling and grammar mistakes which do not reflect on their ability to do the job.


    Economic status – candidates who have not had access to high-quality education or even spell-checking software due to their economic situation are at risk of making more errors in their presentation


    There are many good reasons not to screen resumes based on spelling errors, many roles do not require flawless written communication and a perfect resume is no guarantee that a candidate has perfect spelling. If it is very important for your company or your role to have excellent spelling and grammar, the best approach is to warn candidates ahead of time you will be screening for this, and also to include a writing test in your process. This will give you a much better guide to their written communication skills, and you will not be missing out on a wider pool of candidates.



    We provide a free consultation and training session to help clients improve recruitment activity and perfect their agency relations.
    For further information on this topic or any other recruitment-related questions, please contact 


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