Rainer Jeske conducts retainer and contingency executive and engineering specialist searches in Japan with a focus on leading IT, automotive and industrial vendors. His company, CONNECTYOU, is headquartered in the AIG Building in Marunouchi, right opposite the Imperial Palace and has a branch office in Shinagawa close to Sony. CONNECTYOU was founded in 2004. Rainer is a Co-Founder of the "Japan Information Technology Recruitment Association (JITRA)."
He possesses a Masters Degree in Technology Management/Innovation Management from Manchester University and participated in the Program International de Management for Innovation Management at University Bocconi, Milan, Italy. He has been living in Japan since 1996.
Q & A with Rainer Jeske
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.
I was born and raised in Germany and settled down in Japan after studying in Manchester/UK and Bocconi/Milan.
My first contact with Japan dates back to 1995. I arranged myself a project in Tokyo about accelerating new product development cycles with Japan Management Association Consultants for my Master Course Technology Management Dissertation. Upon graduation in 1996 from Manchester School of Management, I secured a scholarship for studying Japanese language for two years.
Since I wanted to do something with people and IT/High-Tech Consulting, IT recruitment made sense. In 1999, I joined an aggressively expanding IT recruiting agency which became one of the largest IT boutique search firms in Tokyo.
I have been working in Tokyo for the last ten years. I moved to Japanese countryside Odawara, 150 miles west of Tokyo, after living in Tokyo for 10 years. I will be marrying a Japanese national at the beginning of 2009.
Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter
Rainer Jeske: My first contact with Japan dates back to 1995. I arranged myself a project about accelerating new product development cycles with Japan Management Association Consultants in Tokyo for my MSc Technology Management Dissertation. Upon graduation in 1996 from Manchester School of Management, I secured a scholarship for studying Japanese language for two years.
Since I wanted to do something with people and IT/High-Tech Consulting, IT recruitment made sense. In 1999, I joined an aggressively expanding IT recruiting agency which became one of the largest IT boutique search firms in Tokyo. Helping to build the start-up and executive teams of famous Silicon Valley companies’ subsidiaries in Japan across all IT sectors gave me unique insights
and skills into the business challenges and recruiting needs of foreign-capital companies trying to expand in the Japanese market.
Ultimately, I established my own company called CONNECTYOU, www.connectyou.biz, which is specializing in IT, Semiconductors and Automotive/Industrial executive and engineer search in Japan.
My business partner has 15 years experience of sales experience in the enterprise software industry and covers mainly Software - IT clients. Two assistants are supporting our sales and research activities.
Beyond developing CONNECTYOU, I have been establishing two Associations: a) Japan IT Recruitment Association and b) Japan Kuchikomi (=Word of Mouth) Marketing Association – KUMA.
Japan IT Recruitment Association:
JITRA is to
a) establish standards for quality and ethics in the Japanese IT recruitment industry. Members have to commit and abide to a Code of Conduct - http://jitra.org/codeofconduct.php.
b) promote networking and collaboration as the first IT-focused Recruiter-to-Recruiter forum in Japan.
c) connect overseas recruiters with suitable IT recruiting specialists for their particular search needs in Japan.
d) promote cooperation and exchanges with American, European, Asia-Pacific, African or Arabian Recruiter Associations, Recruiter Media and HR Associations.
Non-members, including those in Japan and overseas, can join the Japan IT Recruiting Forum which is a Japan-focused recruiter community site for all those interested in IT recruiting in Japan: www.JapanITRecruitingForum.ning.com
Six Degrees: What languages are you fluent in?
Rainer Jeske: I am fluent in Japanese, English, Italian and German.
Six Degrees: What countries are you accountable for?
I am recruiting bilingual (English and Japanese) IT, semicon and automotive professionals for the Japanese market. Sourcing in the US or Europe occurs
from time to time. For example I just closed the search for finding the president of a European automobile manufacturer with a candidate living in Germany. Sourcing in Silicon Valley for software architects or semicon specialists is another example.
Six Degrees: How is culture a factor in the hiring practice different from other countries you recruit from?
Rainer Jeske: The fact that so few Japanese speak English fluently is the biggest challenge in recruiting because it drastically reduces the bilingual candidate pool. It also means that fluency in speaking and writing Japanese becomes a mandatory high hurdle for non-Japanese intending to work here. As a result, Japan has the lowest percentage of foreign workers as part of their total workforce worldwide. IBM Japan, for example, employs more than 20,000 people. The number of foreigners is 120.
Secondly, women have a tough time. Not only because heavy drinking and smoking with customers are common practices of conducting business. Discrimination at top engineering colleges or top companies makes career development an uphill battle. Less than one percent of executives in Japan are female.
Six Degrees: Where is Japan ahead of the USA in certain recruitment tactics?
Rainer Jeske: The recruitment industry in Japan is behind the rest of the world. Galápagos Island model may be a good term to describe it.
Six Degrees: What networking groups are available and influential within Europe as a whole and within your country in particular?
Rainer Jeske: Foreign or local Chamber of Commerces, especially the American Chamber of Commerce; Tokyo American Club
Six Degrees: What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?
Rainer Jeske: I received training in “American style headhunting” during the first four years of my IT headhunting career. That laid a good foundation. After establishing my own company, I relied mainly on on-line sources such as ERE, AIRS and subject-matter expert blogs from the United States. But the tricky part is that a lot of American approaches of on-line recruiting do not work because of Japanese language or cultural differences.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career? What inspires You as a Recruiter?
Rainer Jeske: Everyone is passionate about something – we source our energy from core values and beliefs. My core values are innovation, fairness, integrity, accountability, and teamwork. I’m inspired by the opportunity to create new ventures, to discover new horizons, to be present to life, and to reach for excellence. For me, all of these are embodied in samba, and it allows me to show up at my work every day completely lit up and ready to make a difference for my candidates and clients.”
Two months ago, a Dutch student at Tokyo Institute of Technology contacted me in the search for a job to start no earlier than 10 months later. That is because he was in the midst of writing up his master course dissertation in robotics. I was inclined to politely pass on his case. Usually I only support mid-career job changers with proper working visas. More importantly, his Japanese was only basic to intermediate. In 9 years of recruiting in Japan I have never placed someone like him.
Still, I decided to give him a chance to apply for a pioneering Japanese robotics R&D position, mainly because he was very passionate about his dream to pursue a career in robotics. While the Japanese client was concerned about him being nervous during his first interview as well as the lack of hands-on work experience, they gave him a chance for a second interview to present his favorite future robotics projects. After it, I was lucky to receive for him an offer letter for a full time corporate R&D position combined with a joined PhD program with a renowned robotics professor. Out of curiosity, I asked my client why they hired him. “Because he has a great passion and big vision for robotics”.vision for robotics”.…