“[We] see Japan as a massive opportunity.”

Skill-set specialists

Allegis Group Japan


Text by Steve McClure  /  Photos by Kageaki Smith


Nothing is more important for success in business than finding people with the right skill set and cultural fit to help a company prosper and grow. And today’s increasingly rapid pace of technological change and globalisation have made this more of a challenge than ever.

As a result, there is more demand for recruitment companies — essentially matchmakers between businesses looking for the right people and people looking for the right career move.

The US-based Allegis Group is a major player in the global recruitment industry. And it sees major opportunities in the Japanese labour market.

Since its establishment in 1983, Allegis has become the world’s largest privately held recruitment company, with annual revenues over $11 billion.

Allegis Group comprises a diverse portfolio of brands, including three global recruitment brands: Aerotek focuses on technical and industrial positions; TEKsystems concentrates on the IT field; and Aston Carter specialises in business professionals and is currently the firm’s strongest brand here.

“In Japan, we have all the recruitment brands [under one roof and] … see Japan as a massive opportunity,” notes Scott Wallace, General Manager of Allegis’ Japanese operations.

Allegis currently operates in eight Asian countries, including Japan. The company entered the Japanese market in 2014 by purchasing Talent2, an Australian recruitment firm that had been operating here since 2007. In September 2016, Allegis Group made the strategic decision to decommission the Talent2 brand, reposition its recruitment strategy in Asia Pacific and align to the global brand structure.

According to Wallace, what sets Allegis apart from other recruitment firms is its values, meaning that it is committed to understanding the needs of its clients, candidates and employees. These clients are the companies that use the firm to search for potential employees, and candidates are the individuals who come to Allegis in the hope of finding a position that matches their abilities and career goals.

Allegis is guided by its “Voice of the Customer” research.

“We try to understand the needs of clients and candidates to a deeper, more significant degree,” Wallace says. “Our number one goal is delivering behaviour that extends to providing higher-level services for our clients and candidates. We’re skill-set specialists, rather than industry specialists.”

Sales and marketing skills, for example, are in demand by companies in any number of fields, Wallace notes.

Allegis emphasises quality by focusing on clients’ specific needs and business cultures, as well as candidates’ individual skill sets and career goals.

“The worst thing you can do is to commit to a client or candidate and not come through,” Wallace states.

 

Wallace is originally from Oliver, a town of some 4,000 people in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada. In recent years, the area has become well-known for producing many excellent wines. While in high school, Wallace spent some summers working in local vineyards, which may have helped him learn about the importance of quality.

He came to Japan 15 years ago to work as a physical education and geography teacher at an international school in Tokyo before entering the recruitment field.

Most of Allegis’ clients in Japan are foreign companies. And Japanese people with English ability make up most of the candidates who come to Allegis for help in finding their dream job.

Wallace says that 80% of Allegis’ staffing business globally involves contract workers, noting that Japan is the world’s second-largest contract labour market.

The Japanese labour market is opening up — but not in terms of immigration, Wallace quickly adds. “We’re seeing long-term contracts being extended, and a trend toward highly skilled workers with longer contracts.”

Increasingly, specialists are being prioritised over generalists as candidates. And as technology transforms the work place — creating greater flexibility — Allegis believes more women will join the workforce.

Entering the Japanese market is not easy for recruiting firms. “You have to be agile to reflect the needs of the market,” Wallace observes. “It’s all about managing relationships — our ability to help as many people as possible.”

When it comes to Allegis’ own practice of hiring people, Wallace says the firm looks for people who share its core values. They have to have high standards, integrity, a competitive spirit, the ability to serve others, and a strong sense of the value of relationships.

“We want people who want to help people — they’re far rarer than you might think,” Wallace continues. “As a privately held company, we can take our time to target the right people, and can invest more time in the initiation phase. We can play a more long-term game to make sure people do the right thing.”

Something else Allegis brings to the proverbial table is how the firm can serve as a consultant that can help clients get a better sense of who they need to hire, and, in turn, encourage candidates to focus on, and develop, their specific skill sets.

“It’s all about behaviours,” Wallace says, explaining that Allegis helps candidates learn how to behave during job interviews, for example.

Globally, Allegis is able to retain employees longer than other recruitment firms by focusing on hiring the right people.

“We’re looking for future leaders,” Wallace explains. “It’s up to us to provide an environment that brings that out in people. It has a lot to do with management, and opportunity for growth and development.”

The company’s Japanese business currently has a staff of 40, divided evenly between Japanese and foreign employees.

Allegis’ commitment to both sides of the recruitment equation bodes well for the local economy — and for its Japanese business. You could say that Allegis and Japan are an ideal match. 

“We try to understand the needs of clients and candidates to a deeper, more significant degree”

“We want people who want to help people — they’re far rarer than you might think”

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