Good hiring news has been thin on the ground the past 18 months, but that might be about to change. Tokyo’s recruiters say there are some areas where hiring is starting to pick up.
Samuel Griffiths, associate director of financial services at Robert Walters Japan, says two hiring trends have emerged across the industry in Q4: 1) firms are rebuilding teams that were heavily restructured earlier in the year; and 2) they are now preparing for expansion in 2010.
“Preparing for ongoing growth, we are already seeing some firms begin to make investments in their infrastructure by strengthening project management teams to streamline processes, as well as learning and development professionals, while strengthening expense management and analysis teams,” says Griffiths.
And he adds that over the last few months, the push among firms to improve the way infrastructure teams interact with other parts of their business has continued, with an increased demand for client-services and business-facing roles such as HR business partners and technical product controllers.
At Legal Futures, senior consultant Toni Kitchaixankul is another recruiter who says there has been an increase in activity in the second half of the year – particularly on the front-office side.
“We have started to see some sign of recovery and many clients are now open to seeing what is available in the market. For example, some strategic private equity firms are starting to look for various types of candidates who would be able to get the business up and running for 2010,” she says.
Kitchaixankul adds that there was a lot of sell side movement in equity research in the third quarter, and there is “substantial demand” for junior candidates to support senior analysts in many investment banks.
That’s a trend Griffiths points to, too. As part of the rebuilding process, he says there is growing demand for junior investment banking analysts (sometimes up to associate level) and junior members of equity research teams, with hiring across all coverage fields.
Not everyone, however, is seeing new growth. One senior headhunter, who wished to remain anonymous, says most of the hiring is for replacement roles. And with a mishmash of positions coming his way, he sees no clear hiring trends emerging.
Kitchaixankul, too, has a few words of caution: “Even though many clients certainly welcome resumes, hiring processes are moving slowly. Most of the openings are for replacements and not additional headcount. Clients have also become more selective in terms of the number of agents they use to represent them.”