March 2021, and we’re still grappling with COVID-19. A year ago, when the Diamond Princess debacle was blowing up in the news, who would have thought that we would still be living with covid and largely continuing to work remotely? Thankfully, however, as we noted a few months ago there continue to be glimmers of hope.
Last year (2020) was the toughest market that I have experienced in 15 years of recruitment. Sure, there were searches (early in the year and then later in the year, although not much in the middle) but it was tough going, with most everything clouded by uncertainty. Much uncertainty remains, especially here in Tokyo with the added layer of the Olympics & Paralympics, however, the key difference to even just 4-6 months ago is a strong market sentiment (at least from our customers) to want to get down to business and make hires or moves.
The Japan legal and compliance market here is by no means back. However, we are still seeing more replacement hires across most industries and there are certain market areas that have been busy to start the year, namely financial services including banking and insurance, as well as healthcare, fintech and other emerging technologies.
Law firms are generally bullish about the year ahead. We have not yet seen that translate to hiring but if partners’ predictions are any indication it should just be a matter of time. Law firms, both Japanese and international continue to be very busy but are making do with less, at least for now.
Finally, the logistics of hiring while many of us continue to work remotely, seem to no longer be an impediment to the recruitment process for most employers. Interviews conducted via phone and video are par for the course now, and many companies and new hires have also come to terms with remote onboarding and training. In-person remains the ideal, but this remote life is (thankfully) no longer quite the obstacle to hiring that we observed 10-12 months ago.
So, while the floodgates have not opened yet in terms of hiring, the trend has turned and we are confident that it will continue to strengthen from here.