Lead Story

Taking the Search Online: Using Local Japanese Job Boards |

Yuko Shimizu, Talent Acquisition Expert, Japan and APAC | タレントアクイジッションエキスパート(日本を含むAPAC)

Translated from Japanese Original

I now work remotely from Singapore and focus on recruiting all over Asia including Japan. In other words, I search for candidates whom I have never met in real life, and after screening them through interviews and such, I must put them forward for a decision on their hiring. I want to share with you part of this wide-ranging and vital process related to how I go about searching for candidates, for which I have sought the advice of many people and been sought out for advice. Here I will limit my discussion to job boards, and what follows is based on my own experience and opinions.

General (Paid) Recruitment Methods

Type of recruitment method

Specific method



per hire

Job ad

Print/online job ad

¥50,000- ¥500,000

Direct sourcing

Database recruitment service, social media, market mapping

¥50,000- ¥1,000,000

Referral program

Introduction from employee/ acquaintance

¥10,000– ¥500,000

Introduction from an employment agency

Employment agency

35%+ of offered annual salary


Of the typical recruitment methods now used in the Japanese market, posting on job ad platforms is the one that I focus on most and the one that I have had the most success with, followed by direct sourcing using social media and referrals. Using job ad platforms costs relatively little, and offers convenience for people like me because I can access them remotely. Even so, just posting ads to job boards does not mean you will get applicants. To what extent you can reach your target and pique their interest is key, and even if you get a lot of applicants, your job ads are only effective if the applicants resemble the target persona you’re looking for. Now let me share how I choose job ad platforms as well as some unexpected successes and failures I have experienced.

How to choose job ad platforms

1) Checklist for choosing job ad platforms
Job ad platforms can be roughly divided into print and online platforms, but as times have changed online job ads have become the norm. Print magazines specializing in job ads were thriving around 2007 and it was easy to get them in many places around Tokyo, but now they have become a rare sight. Today in 2020, people no longer pick up a magazine when it’s published, read through it, send off their resume by mail and then wait to find out if they passed the resume screening. Instead, they do everything on their smartphone. In addition to the published information in online job ads, I can also easily look at the job ad platform and evaluate its qualities from the user’s point of view. Here is the actual checklist that I use.


  Price and estimated number of hires from the post

- Is the price in line with the recruitment expense? Is it overly expensive compared with other platforms? 

Database size

- How many users does the platform have?

How many members have logged in within the past month?

How many new members does the platform get each month?

Age range and salary range

- Does the age distribution of the registered users match the target persona?

Does the salary range of the registered users match the target persona? 

Specialisation (language, specific skills)

- How many people in the database have the specific language skills of the target persona? (Ability in English, Chinese, Korean, etc. is often asked in the registration process.)

How many people have the specific skills of the target persona (engineering, design, positions with required qualifications, etc.)?

Database scouting

- Are database scouting notifications possible?

- Is the target persona in the database? Most platforms publish simplified metrics.

- Is the number of possible database scouting notifications adequate?

Market exposure, investment

-  What types of external media ads (TV commercials, train station ads, website ads, etc.) have been placed most recently, or are planned to be placed?

Backup support

-  After posting, can I revise a job ad’s content (written or otherwise) after seeing the applicant results?

Try the keywords putting yourself in the user’s position

-  Use actual keywords that the target persona is likely to enter (position title, industry terms, special requirements, etc. Ex.: New sales, ad award, web marketing, work from home, flextime).

Currently, there are 69 job ad platformers in Japan (number of official members, Association of Job Information of Japan). Using the checklist, narrow down your selection and come up with three or four job ads platforms to consider.

2) Tool to send scouting notifications to the job seeker database
Database scouting (Item no. 5 on the checklist) is a related service offered by job ad platforms. It has been widely used since about 2013 and in most cases is offered as a supplement to the job board. Job seekers who register for the scouting service get access to direct and exclusive offers, among other features. A recruiter like myself can also select the target using keywords and requirements, and check anonymized resumes as well, so it is a way to actively approach job seekers similar to partial direct sourcing. It is also necessary to do this to find people who fit rare target personas when you are not likely to find successful candidates just by waiting.

Unexpected successes and common failures

Unexpected successes: Recruitment marketing, posting job ads in year-round recruitment

“I saw the job ad six months ago and wanted to apply, but the timing didn’t work out. The project I’ve been working on is winding down now, and I’ve started looking for another job. I’m glad you’re still accepting applications.”

I received this message bearing good news from a person who is around 40 years old, living in Tokyo and fluent in both Japanese and English. I still remember how my heart jumped when a job seeker matching the target persona in the depleted labor market applied for the job. This is a successful example of raising the level of recognition in the market with recruitment marketing using long-term, full-year recruiting.

Placing job ads in Japan has traditionally been done for seasonal recruitment and narrow needs to fill specific vacancies, so selling packages for job ads in four-week units was the norm. Now, however, as the lifetime employment system is crumbling and people have a more positive view of changing jobs, year-round recruitment not only has advantages, it is also becoming a must from the perspective of recruitment marketing. For this reason, some platformers are also pushing sales of year-long packages. At the risk of repeating myself, I have had numerous successes with this method and recommend it.

Common failures: Chasing after a target persona that does not exist; not facing reality and instead chasing a dream

Behind many recruiters’ complaints of not being able to get any applicants from among the candidates who meet the preferred qualifications — even though they spent all this time and money and put out a job ad — is a mismatch between the target persona and the labor market. This is not only true of recruiting using job ads, but a failure often seen at many companies too.

Looking at Japan for example, if you’re seeking bilingual talent who can speak both Japanese and English, that alone shrinks the potential candidate pool down quite a bit, and if you look for global talent who have non-Japanese managers and have developed markets pursuing ambitious KPIs, you won’t even be looking at a tiny bit of the total population. In addition, if you look at matches with culture and salary, you realize that no talent meeting the target persona exists in the world. So then you have to choose whether to change the target persona or continue chasing after this target persona in a long marathon. If this hire is a key position in the organization, I would also recommend getting help from an employment agency that specializes in the specific field. The reason is that some elite talent do not directly apply to job ads from companies, but look for a new job using a recruiter from an employment agency they trust.

Research findings of Japanese job site doda by Persol in April 2019 found that approximately 15 percent of people who changed jobs found their new job through an employment agency. Specifically, the survey asked 6,578 people who had changed jobs what method they used in their most recent job change. Some 43.4 percent used a job board, followed by 15.6 percent who found their new job using an employment agency. While many HR hiring managers at companies may resist using employment agencies due to the cost involved, this must also be recognized as a reality of the job market in Japan.


























価格と見込み採用人数 Price and estimated number of hires from the post

-       価格が採用費用に見合うものか? 著しく他の媒体と比較して高すぎないか?

登録者数 Database size

-       どれくらいのユーザーがいる媒体なのか?

-       直近1か月以内にログインをしている会員がどのくらいいるか?

-       新規登録会員は毎月何人いるか?

年齢経験および報酬レンジ Age range and Salary range

-       登録者の年齢分布はペルソナにあっているか?

-       登録者の報酬レンジはペルソナにあっているか?

専門性(言語、特定技術力) Specialisation

-       ペルソナに含まれる特定の言語(英語、中国語、韓国語などは登録時の確認項目にあることが多い)のできる人はデータベースにどれくらいいるか?

-       ペルソナに含まれる特定の技術(エンジニア、デザイン、資格必須業務など)をもった人はどれくらいいるか?


-       データベースへのスカウト配信が可能か。

-       データベースにペルソナがいるか。ほとんどの媒体が簡易的な数値を公開してくれる。

-       データベーススカウトの配信可能数は適当か。

露出度、媒体投資費 Market exposure, Investment

-       直近どのような外部メディア(TVCM、電車駅内広告、Web上広告など)への露出をしてきた、あるいはする予定か?

掲載後の柔軟性 Backup support

-       掲載後、応募入りの様子を見た上で、文面等内容修正が可能か?

あなたがユーザーだったら? キーワードを叩く

-       実際にペルソナが入力しそうなキーワード(職務タイトルや業界用語、こだわり条件など新規営業、広告賞、Webマーケティング、在宅勤務、フレックスタイム)で

69を超える求人広告媒体社(参考:公益社団法人 全国求人情報協会 正会員数)があり、それらの中から適切な媒体を選ぶ必要があるのだが、上記のチェックリストをつかって複数の媒体を比較検討して、3、4社に絞られるとよいだろう。









実際にとある調査(doda by Persol 自社リサーチ結果/20194月実施)では約15%の転職者が人材紹介会社を経由して転職先を決定したと回答している。具体的には転職経験者6,578人を対象に「直近の転職先を決定した転職手段」のアンケート調査をしたところ43.4%が求人広告媒体経由で、次いで15.6%が人材紹介会社経由で転職先を見つけたということだった。企業人事採用担当者としては採用コストの面で人材紹介会社の利用に抵抗のある方も多いだろうが、これが日本での採用の事実的側面であることも認識いただくべきだろう。



Yuko Shimizu has 7 years of HR and recruiting experience in Japan and other Asian countries. She works closely with management and understands both business needs and the talent market situation. She is currently a freelance project-based consultant based in Japan and Singapore.

清水ゆう子 7年にわたり日本国内外の人事、採用領域に従事。企業人事、ヘッドハンティング会社での経験を経て、経営トップ層を巻き込んだプロジェクトを得意とする。経営層のビジネスニーズと人材マーケットの両面を理解し、状況に最善の提案をする。直近では東京とシンガポールをベースにフリーランスとしてプロジェクトベースでビジネスを展開している。


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