Guide to Recruiter Jobs in Japan

By Elena Vigani | October 2020

Are you passionate about the human resources field and do you like spending time talking with new people and discovering new potential talents? Then the recruitment world suits all your needs. If you want to find recruiter jobs in Japan, this guide will lead you step by step to the creation of a successful career in the field of recruitment in Japan. 

This article is a subsection of our full-time jobs’ article.

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    Recruitment Industry in Japan

    In recent years, human resources have gained increasing importance within organizations and companies. In order to run a winning business, CEOs concentrate their efforts on their human capital. For this reason, they give a lot of responsibilities to the figure of the recruiter, such as the one who is looking for ideal candidates who suit the organization’s needs. Choosing the wrong person sounds like a small deal, but when you are dealing with high stakes, the wrong person can destroy a culture and also make a company lose millions of dollars or lose an opportunity you will never regain. Whatever type of recruiter you are or want to be, Japan offers one of the most unique and interesting recruitment markets in the world.

    Thanks to the increasing importance that human resources have, you can find many recruiter jobs in Japan, which can be directed to both experienced and non-experienced recruiters. The working hours of a recruiter are occupied by several activities. Recruiters are needed for creating job advertisements, promoting them through several channels, for instance, LinkedIn, the company’s website, etc., screening currula?, discovering new talents, interviewing appliers, selecting the right candidates, and so on. 

    The need to rely on a recruiter in Japan, both internal and external, is determined by cultural, traditional, and business organizational factors. The traditional path for many companies and workers in Japan is the lifetime employment culture: young workers choose a job and they expect to have it from graduation until retirement. For this reason, the structure of the company is mainly organized to ensure that all recruitment efforts are focused on new graduates. However, Japan is now characterized by a worker and talent shortage and Japan’s companies are constantly battling to gain the best talents. In recent years, the battle for new talents is starting to include mid-career hires. All these factors have led to the greater importance of the recruitment field in Japan. Indeed, if you search on LinkedIn for recruiters in Tokyo, you will discover more than 15,000 agents who are currently working as internal recruiters, agency recruiters, or independent recruiters. This trend is still growing. Looking at Glassdoor, you will find more than 50 new recruiter jobs in Japan published in the last month. 

    If you want to learn more about the recruitment industry in Japan, read the Ultimate Guide to Recruiters in Tokyo.

    recruiter in japan choosing candidates for job

    What companies employ Recruiters in Japan

    Considering the weight that human resources have within the organization and the current trends in the recruitment industry, the answer to the question above could be every type of company. Whatever the company does, if it wants to be successful it must focus on its employees. Therefore, it must rely on someone who can identify talent.

    For this article, let us divide the most likely options for recruiter jobs in Japan into 4 types.

    Large Corporations

    As I said, almost every type of company needs a recruiter in Japan. This is particularly true for large corporations, which have lots of employees and are constantly looking for new talents to globe into their human capital. These corporations can be international companies or Japanese firms. These companies will more likely heavily invest in an internal recruiting strategy with an onsite recruiting manager or team of Talent acquisition specialists that will aim to do more direct sourcing, candidate interviews, and management of the recruiting process themselves. The TA & HR team will often work with external recruitment agencies for Executive or hard to source positions.

    Smaller Companies

    Similar to large corporations, small companies are interested in the field of recruitment. Conversely to the first type, they have a smaller human capital, and generally, they look for fewer employees. For this reason, it is more common for this type of company to give custody of recruitment to a recruitment agency. However, some small companies could also decide to hire a recruiter within their organization.

    Recruitment Agencies

    If you are truly hoping to become an expert in recruitment, you may be the most interested in this one. Recruitment agencies are companies that are paid to find suitable workers for other companies and organizations in order to fill vacant positions. According to their size, they can be classified into two types:

    1. Small specialist recruitment boutiques: they are of small size and specialized in one particular sector, such as IT field, legal field, medical field, etc.;
    2. Large recruitment agencies: they covered a wide range of sectors and have lots of employees.

    There are three types of organization that rely more often on these recruitment agencies:

    1. Smaller organization: as I said, smaller organization (with less than 100 employees) are more likely searching and recruiting candidates from external agencies;
    2. New entry organization to the Japanese market: Normally these companies have either no presence in Japan or only 1 standalone person who looks after the Japanese business. HR is normally supported by global functions therefore they will rely exclusively on global or local recruitment agencies to help build their team;
    3. Organizations with fast growth that exceeds current recruiting capabilities: Some organizations may have growth needs so high that their internal HR or Talent acquisition teams can not manage the recruiting process. For example, this could be for the hiring needs of upwards of 50 new people in 3 months. That could mean they need to search high and wide and they may use multiple agencies to help fill the headcount needs.


    If you are an experienced recruiter, you can look for these opportunities. Freelance recruiters are more flexible compared to their in-house or agency colleagues. For this reason, Japan likes this type of worker and has started to introduce more freelance opportunities than in the past years.

    freelance recruiter hire candidate at job interview in japan

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    Types of Recruiter jobs in Japan

    Although the recruitment field refers to the act of finding and selecting new staff, there are several types of recruiters, which differ in terms of the type of company they are working for, and the type of talent they are looking for. Here is a list of recruiter jobs in Japan, with their description:

    Internal Recruiter

    Internal recruiters are employees of a single company. Their aim is to bring in candidates of all levels to fill vacant positions within the organization they work for. They promote their job advertisements through several channels, such as job boards, online advertisements, social networks such as LinkedIn, and job fairs. This type of recruiter needs to collaborate with the department heads and hiring managers. They collaborate in order to understand hiring needs. Once they do this, the internal recruiter creates the ideal candidate persona, promotes the job ads, and interviews applicants. 

    Agency Recruiter

    Agency recruiters work for a recruitment agency. They are a sort of intermediary between companies and workers. Their aim is to find candidates who suit the needs of the organizations that ask for their help or to find companies that suit the needs of the candidates. An agency recruiter can rely on whatever type of sector and type of positions or can be specialized in a few sectors, or in a particular type of position. For example, the entry-level recruiter focuses on hiring people who don’t have the experience, such as new graduates. He or she focuses more on quantity and has a high number of candidates who ask for these positions. He or she is also willing to find solutions for foreigners from non-English speaking countries. 

    Talent Acquisition Specialist

    The talent acquisition refers to the process of research and acquisition of qualified collaborators for organizational needs and response to every work requirement. The talent acquisition specialist, compared to the recruiter, is looking for candidates who will be able to satisfy the future needs of the organization. The activities of a talent acquisition specialist are not only related to the recruitment of talents, but also to strong employer branding activities, such as all the communication activities aimed at attracting potential candidates. This type of worker is currently really in demand in Japan.


    The headhunter is a recruiter who is not looking for any kind of candidate, but only highly qualified staff. Headhunters focus on hiring talents for high positions, such as vice president and director-level positions for finance, HR, marketing, and others. They look for employees who have between 8 and 15 years of experience in one field and who are highly qualified.

    Project-Based and Freelancer

    Nowadays in Japan, there is also the possibility to do recruiting, headhunting, and talent acquisition activities as a freelancer. A freelance recruiter joins a company in order to complete a specific task, which could be finding an entry-level candidate, an executive candidate, or attracting potential candidates. The relationship between the company and the freelance recruiter finishes once the project ends.

    freelance recruiter headhunting for candidates for job in japan

    Skills needed for Recruiter Jobs in Japan

    In order to become a good recruiter, whatever your target is, you should develop several skills and knowledge. These skills range from practical skills, such as computer skills and Japanese language skills, to personal skills, such as communication and relationship-building skills. Here is a list of some of the most important skills you must have to excel in recruitment:

    IT Skills

    Nowadays, IT skills are necessary not only for software developers or other IT workers but also for almost every type of job. A good recruiter must deal with recruitment software and other basic tools. They should be comfortable with social media, as they are a crucial element to networking and they are the ideal place to find the best active candidates. The more you are used to dealing with the technologies, the more you will be competitive compared to the other recruiters.

    Japanese Language Skills

    If you want to easily find recruiter jobs in Japan, you can develop knowledge of the Japanese language. This is not a compulsory requirement because the recruitment industry in Japan is one of the fields where there are lots of opportunities also for non-Japanese speakers. Japanese is helpful but not necessary for any foreign recruiter in the field as you will most likely be recruiter bilingual candidates. Nevertheless, if you are able to speak in Japanese, you will have access to a larger range of job opportunities. 

    Don’t miss the opportunity to overcome your colleagues: here is an article on how to learn Japanese based on your starting level. 

    If you already have Japanese basic knowledge and you want to become fluent in this language, you should read the BFF Tokyo article about How to Reach Advanced Level Japanese and Beyond

    Communication Skills

    This is a must-have for a recruiter. Recruiters link the company with the candidates. Based on how they are and behave, they can both attract the candidate or discourage them. For this reason, they must develop strong communication skills, enabling the candidates to feel comfortable. Moreover, they should also be great listeners, in order to understand both the company’s and the candidate’s needs. They should also understand the body language to increase the knowledge of the person they are interviewing. 

    Teamwork Skills

    Another important skill is teamwork. As I already said, recruiters work with the department heads in order to identify the organization’s needs, both of the present and the future, and to identify what type of candidates they are looking for. In addition, they should cooperate also with marketing and communication managers to coordinate the communication of these needs. 

    Relationship-Building Skills

    If you want to excel in the recruitment industry in Japan, this is one of the leading requirements you must have. As the recruiter is seen as the first link between companies and candidates, he or she should be able to establish relationships between the two parties, without favoring any party. Relationship-building skills include several soft skills necessary to form positive and long-term relationships. 

    Time Management Skills

    In an ever-changing world, effective time management is a fundamental requirement. As a good recruiter, you should be able to complete tasks on time and find suitable candidates without wasting time presenting weak candidates. Time management increases its importance in particular with companies that have flexible working hours, smart workers, and employees with different time zones. Managing your time effectively will make you more productive. 

    Marketing Skills

    Today the competition between companies is extremely high. This competition is reflected also in the recruiting stages. Candidates can find a large number of open positions from different companies. For this reason, a good recruiter must also have marketing skills that help him or her attract candidates and convince them to accept the interview. Once they have chosen the candidates, they should use their marketing skills convincing hiring managers that these candidates are worthy and maybe also convince the final candidate to accept the job offer.

    Multitasking Skills

    The work of a recruiter includes several activities and responsibilities. Sometimes these activities must be done at the same time and in an excellent way. He or she puts together job advertisements, screens applicants, conducts interviews, cooperates with his/her employers, makes job offers, and many others. During his/her working hours, he/she must be able to move from one activity to another while maintaining a high-quality job. 

    Other skills that a recruiter must have are attention to details, organizational skills, critical thinking, patience, and empathy.

    recruiter looking at resume for job-specific skills in japan

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    Salaries for Recruiter Jobs in Japan

    If you want to make a career in the field of recruitment in Japan, you will be surely interested in how much a recruiter earns. Salaries change depending on several things, such as the years of experience, the level of education, the knowledge of Japanese, and so on. Another important aspect is the type of recruiter you are. Generally, internal recruiters and talent acquisition specialists have a stable base salary coupled with good bonuses, Japanese pension, health insurance, commuting expenses, and perks. Conversely, headhunters, agency recruiters, and freelance recruiters have lower base salaries but high incentive bonuses. Thus, you can expect to earn a higher income, but it depends on your potential. You can choose one type or the other based on your experience. Usually, if you have no experience, it is better to start with a firm that has a good base salary. 


    Full-time position with base salary and bonuses

    Considering the firms that offer a good base salary with bonuses, the most important factor influencing the salary is the number of years of experience. According to these, salaries for recruiter jobs in Japan can vary from 3/4 million yen per year to 6/7 yen per year. During the first two years in the recruitment field, you can expect to earn 4 million yen per year. After the initial period, the average salary increases up to 5/6 million yen per year. Between five and ten years of experience, the salary touches 7 million yen per year. The salary continues to rise. When you reach 25 years of experience, you will earn 10 million yen per year. 

    Another important factor that impacts on the level of your income is education. The average salary of people with the same years of experience varies based on their level of education. For the same number of years, a person who has a master’s degree will earn about 58% more than his/her colleagues with a Bachelor’s degree. 

    Where to find Recruiter Jobs in Japan

    So where do you find recruiter jobs in Japan? What companies hire foreigners?

    Full-time and part-time positions

    There are several ways to find full-time and part-time jobs in Japan. One of the most used ways is searching on social networks and job advertisement sites. Here are some examples of sites where you can find recruiter jobs in Japan: 

    The second way you can use in order to get a full-time or part-time job in Japan is by checking the website of the companies you are interested in. Many companies arrange their websites with a specific section dedicated to new candidates. This is usually called “work with us”, “join our team” or “career”. Otherwise, they give you the possibility to send your CV as a spontaneous application. 

    Finally, if you are interested in finding recruiter jobs in Japan, you can use some recruitment agencies and gain a double advantage. In Japan there are more than 100 recruitment agencies, so you can have lots of options. On the one hand, they can get you in touch with companies and find great job opportunities. On the other hand, they can hire you, as you are applying for a recruiter position, which is their area of work. Here is a list of some recruitment agencies you can apply and enroll in:


    Working as a freelance recruiter has both positive and negative aspects. On the one hand, it allows you to gain higher income, but it depends on how much you work and how a good recruiter you are. Moreover, you need to find your clients on your own and it could be riskier than working as an employee for a company. In order to find freelance recruiter jobs in Japan, you can choose between two ways. Firstly, as for full-time and part-time jobs, you can search on the websites of the companies you are interested in. Secondly, Japan offers some websites for freelancers that have the main purpose to connect freelancers with companies. The top freelancers’ website is UpWork. This is used by over 5 million companies. You have to enroll, describe the service you are offering (recruiter/headhunter/talent acquisition specialist/etc.), explain your prices, and then wait for the companies to contact you. Another site that is similar to Upwork is Truelancer.


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    recruiter explaining about job details to candidate in japan

    Education for Recruiter jobs in Japan

    Finding recruiter jobs in Japan is a hard challenge, it implies studying hard, spending lots of energy, and doing as much experience as you can, as this is the only way to put into practice what school courses have taught you. In order to become a recruiter, you should follow these steps:

    Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

    The best way to start a career in the field of recruitment is to enroll in a Bachelor’s degree. Some universities offer Bachelor’s degrees in human resources management or in related areas, for instance, business administration, psychology, marketing, and sociology, all with a specialization in human resources. These degrees should include courses in personnel administration, selecting, training, and development. 

    Earn a Master’s Degree

    This is not a compulsory step, but it will allow you to have more job opportunities and higher incomes, as I already said in the section about salaries. Nowadays, given the growing importance of human resources, universities have prepared courses aimed at increasing knowledge in this field and the awareness of the role of human resources. One of these courses is the Master of Science in Human Resource Management at the United International Business School of Tokyo. 

    Gain Work Experience While Studying

    The field of recruitment requires high-specialized people and the best way to become them is through experience. Many of the skills required in the recruitment field can be learned through the job and on the job. You should start doing experience during your years at university. Students can do an internship or start working in an entry-level position. Some companies give the opportunity to make a period of paid or unpaid internship, which will allow you to develop organizational skills and communication skills that are extremely important in the field of recruitment. Thanks to these experiences, you can also start increasing your network of people in the field. But make sure to have a good mentor in recruiting. Regardless of the size of the business and organization, pick one that meets your general industry interest and passion, as you will spend your time talking with people about this organization. 

    Become Certified

    Certifications are not a compulsory step too. Recruiters in Japan don't need certifications in order to start working, but they are useful because they demonstrate you have the skills necessary to recruit and they may help you get noticed by companies. You could enroll in the Japan HR Society. This institution offers two certifications: Professional Human Resource Management and Senior Professional Human Resource Management. Through the attendance of these certifications, recruiters can gain higher credibility.

    Continuing Education

    The techniques of recruiting are constantly changing, also in relation to technologies. For this reason, recruiters need to be constantly updated about the news in the field. There are periodically workshops and seminars that help recruiters stay current with new recruiting development.

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