How to Maximize your Tokyo Recruiter Relationship

By  Gregory Thomas  Aug 16, 2019

Edited by D.L. Barr


This article is a part of our series on recruitment in Japan and an article in our massive guide to jobs in Tokyo.

Maximize Recruitment Cover

What does a good recruiter look like?

A good recruiter comes in all shapes, sizes, and experiences. I believe they should be able to offer the following: 

1 : Industry knowledge: The recruiter can clearly explain potential roles in your chosen industry, knows about the trends, provides current information, and monitors companies coming into the market. 

2 : Salary trends: The recruiter understands salary, compensation, market trends, and future earning potential for not only their existing client base, but you as well.

3 : Client Introductions: The recruiter is able to introduce you to a good variety of clients and positions. 

4 : Scheduling and time management: The recruiter will arrange all interviews for you with the company in keeping with your timeline and availability. 

5 : Salary negotiation: The recruiter will work with the company to mediate a win-win situation between the client and you. 

6 : Career guidance and advice: The recruiter will provide relevant advice on how to get your ideal position, what your next career step should be, and how to develop your true potential. They will also advise on when not to rush a career change based on your specific situation. 

Some lesser-known advantages are:

A : Hidden opportunities: Recruiters may know about non-public positions or information about upcoming roles. A good recruiter will determine if you match one of those and inform you about it.

B : Connections to senior decision makers: They may have direct connections to senior-level staff. This can make an introduction smoother and speed up the process because you might be able to skip HR and go directly to the hiring managers.

C : Interview advice: Recruiters should have strong knowledge of the market, company, and hiring team. They should be able to coach you on how to best approach the interview. A good recruiter should also help you to promote yourself based on their knowledge of the characteristics and background of your interviewers.

D : Provides a long term relationship: A good recruiter should keep in touch with updates on market information and develop a stronger personal relationship with you. They can become a confidant and support you with your own future hiring needs.

Job Offers

Choosing your Tokyo recruiter 

The top priority in choosing your personal recruiter is finding the one who will best work with your schedule, understand your goals and needs, and promptly give you the best information about opportunities open to you. You're entrusting this person to change your life, so you need to make an informed decision!

After you do some research, meet with four to five recruiting firms who work within your industry of interest. Get to know their style, network, and recruiting team personally before moving forward with anything formal. 

If time permits, a face-to-face meeting will help in getting to know the recruiter on a personal level. Time is money to a recruiter, and if a recruiter is willing to give you face time, take advantage of the opportunity. A solid working relationship will help you in the future, I promise.

Here are some questions to help you filter your choices and find someone who will support you and your career: 

1 : How long have they been in recruiting? How long has their firm been in the business? Years of experience, results, and record with proposed clients, both personal and firm-wide. 

This will help me understand their level of performance and general capabilities as a recruiter.

2 : Where are their clients, what key industries do they work with, and what level and function of positions do they they cover?

Does the firm have a network that matches my needs, and is it reputable?

3 : How long have they worked with my target companies? Who do they know in the company organization?

What is their relationship with the proposed company? Do they know anyone higher up that can give me an edge? 

4 : Can they explain the company's salary, location, commute, company culture & environment, diversity of staff backgrounds, hiring manager, and job stability? 

Do they actually understand the company they're trying to match me with? How is their market knowledge? 

5 : Have they had any experience with people with a similar background to me? To what success?

What is their past history with people like me?

6 : Can they give a clear and logical explanation for why they feel I am right for the position they brought up?

Does their explanation fully align with my career goals? Is this something that matches my career interests? 

7 : Can I trust this person? Are they going to support me or their own agenda? Am I comfortable with the speed of the process?

At the end of the day, this is a business decision. Can you work with this person to get things done? 

Recruiter Relationship - Employees

Recruitment secret: No relationship is exclusive

If you develop a strong connection with a specific recruiter, you can see if he works with companies mentioned by other recruiters. Companies in Japan often work with multiple recruitment agencies, so the chances of overlap are high.

Be careful! Only accept an introduction from the agency you want to represent you (I'll explain below). Outside of a retained search, there is no such thing as company exclusivity in the recruitment industry. However, you the candidate must work only with the recruiter that introduces you to an opportunity. You have the power to choose the recruiter that you want to work with, so don't cross your wires when investigating career options.

Don't rush the process

Recruitment secret: Consequences are real

Naturally you'll have a sense of urgency when changing a job; many people want to leave their current position as soon as possible because they put it off as long as possible. As a result of this procrastination, candidates tend to send out their resumes to as many positions as possible in one sitting.

When you do this, you run into the problem of submitting too many applications with too many recruiters for too many positions. A recruiter's job is to match you with the job that's best for you, and spamming your resume all over the internet (or agency desks) makes it incredibly difficult to satisfy both company and your needs.

Some people apply for any and every position that turns up in the hopes of getting a hit. They agree to introductions for roles that they're not qualified or experienced enough for, because why not? Leave no stone unturned, right?

Random applications create specific problems

If you get turned down for one position, you can just reapply for another in the same company, right?


Many companies have created tighter hiring rules to prevent multiple applications and introductions. Some companies will even decline a candidate's second application regardless of the difference in positions. They tend to view this scattershot approach as an unwillingness to invest in the company itself, and they see no reason to waste time and money on someone who sees them as merely a paycheck.

There's also the matter of "candidate ownership." The contracts between recruitment agencies and businesses usually mean that you can't contact the company's internal HR department to interview for a different position. The agency "owns" your file and submits it according to the company's regulations and needs. The time frame is typically one year for this restriction.

If you rush into the application process, you can end up stuck with a recruiter who doesn't have your best interests at heart. Many agencies pressure their recruiters to place candidates at any cost, which doesn't benefit either you or the company. You don't want to end up in that situation.

It's not uncommon for a candidate to have an introduction for a position they're not suited for and be turned down. Because of the company's contracts, the candidate can't apply through a different agency for a different position. You could lose the chance for a great job when you act in haste instead of deliberation.

Recruitment secret: Organize your interviews

In any job search, I recommend tracking the positions you applied to, what agency and agent supported you, and the outcome. Changing your career is a stressful time, and it's easy to forget what you did when. It also creates a paper trail to help minimize issues down the road.

An example may look like this:

Company Name



Application status

Company A

Assistant marketing 

Recruiter A 

First interview 

Company B

Marketing manager 

Recruiter B

Did not apply 

Company C


Recruiter C

Sent resume

Recruitment secret: Everybody wins or nobody wins

The ultimate elephant in the room is that recruiters earn their pay when candidates hire on with their client companies. Recruiting is a high stakes sales job with tens of millions of yen on the line. A firm may allow several of its agents to work with your file, meaning you have three or four people waving multiple offers in your face. The already stressful situation of changing your career can be made worse when this happens.

It's your decision. Take your time. Don't let anyone rush you. Review each case carefully so you can make the right choice for yourself, your career, and your family. You have full permission and authority to say no at any stage of the process. A good recruiter will understand and move on; they deal with rejections and "no" every day. Open communication will prevent messy situations and create a stronger relationship for future job applications.

Final thoughts

My goal in sharing this article is to shed light and clarity on the recruiting industry and how you as a candidate can make the most from the system here in Japan.

The world of recruiting has many benefits and can help your career growth and development, and I hope I was able to show that. I also hope that this makes your upcoming job hunt both easier and successful.


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