Recruiting Medical Executives in Japan

Hiring Trends for Medical Executives in Japan

medical executive recruitment in japan

Finding the right medical executives for your Japan office can be challenging. If you headhunt a Japanese medical executive and the executive turns out to be not as good as you thought, this could lead to problems in your Japan business. For example, if your new medical sales and marketing executive signs up the wrong Japanese distributors, you may have distribution problems.

It can take time to recruit the right medical general manager, regulatory executive, or other qualified staff. Japanese people are generally very conservative, and they do not like to make quick decisions. While there are some very large Japanese companies that have tried to promote pay for performance (instead of pay for seniority), most Japanese companies still believe in long-term employment with employees receiving a relatively standard compensation package as they move up in seniority.

Recruiting senior Japanese medical executives for a Western medical company’s business in Japan can be done via recruiters and headhunters. Most Japanese medical recruiters will need to poach Japanese medical executives from other companies to join your business. Many Japanese medical executives that are currently working at Japanese medical companies are reluctant to leave their Japanese company to join a Western medical company in Japan. The reason for this is that, once a Japanese executive leaves a Japanese company for a foreign medical company in Japan, it is virtually impossible for that Japanese medical executive to return to their old Japanese company at the same pay or at the same status if things do not work out at the foreign medical company. Most Japanese medical executives who leave their Japanese company, but realize they do not like working at a foreign medical company, end up joining smaller Japanese medical companies, oftentimes in remote locations at less pay.

Recruiting Strategies for Medical Executives

Recruiting Agencies – Some recruiting agencies specialize in medical executive search in Japan. However, it is very difficult to hire highly skilled, experienced English speaking people in Japan, and retained searches for qualified executives require patience and money. Most recruiting agencies in Japan work on a contingent basis.

Job Magazines and Newspapers – If you are looking for employees with good English skills, you can advertise in the English-language newspaper, The Japan Times, or look for returnees. For Japanese-language ads, Asahi, Yomiuri, and Nikkei are popular.

Websites – is a popular internet job site. However, online job postings will mostly find younger workers.

MBAs – These used to be very uncommon in Japan, but more Japanese universities are offering this degree now. Some Japanese also go to business schools abroad and want to return to Japan after receiving their MBA from the United States or Europe.

Word of Mouth – Word of mouth is an indispensable method when looking for skilled employees in Japan. Talk to people who have done business with you, or people you meet.  If your company is new in Japan, you will need to work on developing these contacts over time. Word of mouth is especially recommended to find medical sales and marketing people.  When you find someone good, they may be able to bring associates with them to make a better team.

Retention in Japan

Recruiting Medical Executives in Japan

To retain a talented medical employee, especially in a foreign company, building trust is crucial to creating good working conditions. Because it may be difficult for Japanese and English speaking employees to converse with each other initially, managers should consider how to facilitate open communication in the workplace.

Sometimes, implementing a competitive and performance-based compensation system as well as offering opportunities for advancement through training are also key retention techniques. More companies are beginning to spend money on communications training for employees, especially at the executive level, to counter the difficulty of handling people and communicating effectively in both Japanese and English.

Japan’s Labor Laws

Most companies in Japan must create and file employee rules, which are required to contain items such as: working hours, breaks, and leaves; wages and overtime, with determination, payment, and increase procedures; any costs deducted from paychecks; and any other policy that affects all employees.

Most companies choose to use these collective employee rules to govern employees, rather than individual contracts. In the rare cases when individual employment contracts are used, there is the option of indefinite term contracts, which imply long-term employment. Some employers will offer fixed-term contracts, which usually have a legal maximum of 3 years but can be up to 5 years for workers with high professional skills or knowledge.

Japan Wages and Compensation

The minimum wage in Japan varies by prefecture and industry. The highest is Tokyo’s 869 yen per hour, which is about $8.35. The lowest, in some rural prefectures, is 664 yen, or $6.38.

Bonuses help to cement the group feeling that is important to the Japanese work environment. It is standard to provide sizable bonuses worth about 1-3 month’s salary twice a year in early June and early December. Usually, the June bonus is guaranteed, while the December bonus is adjusted based on performance. However, these bonuses are also affected by total company performance. In difficult times, the bonus can be lowered drastically across the board to cut costs, or even be put off until the next year.