Differences in Recruitment between China and Japan

This afternoon, a colleague mentioned the difficulties in recruitment, sharing an anecdote about an e-commerce owner who has been hiring year-round but still hasn’t found the right candidate, lamenting the challenge of finding suitable employees. This conversation brought to mind my own experiences of job hunting as a fresh graduate in China and Japan. Having experienced both (undergraduate job hunting in China and graduate job hunting in Japan), I can clearly see the significant differences between the two. In summary:

In China, the focus is on professional skills (whether the candidate can perform the job tasks, ideally being immediately competent).
In Japan, the emphasis is on the candidate’s personality and whether their values align with the company’s culture (though skills are also considered).

Initially, I was skeptical of the Japanese approach to recruitment, finding it somewhat superficial and pretentious. During the job application process in Japan, I often had to undergo psychological and personality tests, which would be hard to believe for someone accustomed to the Chinese system.

I used to think that as long as a person can perform the job tasks, other factors were not as important. However, my mindset has undergone a complete 360-degree shift. Reflecting back, I now believe the latter approach is clearly superior. From the perspective of the principles of Dao, Fa, Shu, and Qi, it represents recruitment from the level of Dao. Their considerations are more long-term and mature. It’s not surprising, then, why many people in Japanese companies spend their entire careers at one company and why their craftsmanship and cultural spirit are so strong (I’ve seen many century-old shops in Japan, and their meticulous and diligent approach continues to influence me). If a person’s character, values, or morals do not align with the company’s culture, even if they are highly skilled, problems are likely to arise in the future.

It’s like a relationship between two people. If you only look at the other person’s wealth, appearance, etc. (which are indeed important in reality) without considering values, personality, and ways of interacting, the relationship is unlikely to last (most likely). Although the latter may seem impractical, its priority should be the highest because it is the foundation for lasting relationships.

I also thought about the frequent news regarding issues with teachers in recent years, such as academic misconduct or harming students. I believe the root problem lies in the evaluation system for recruiting teachers (or the overall social evaluation system). When a teacher’s worth is measured only by tangible metrics like the number of publications, the prestige of their alma mater, or their degree, while neglecting or downplaying seemingly “superficial” qualities (like teaching ethics, character, etc.), such issues are bound to arise. Establishing a comprehensive evaluation system that assesses intangible qualities is a fascinating topic.

For me, the most important things are not those tangible metrics, grades, degrees, or money (although I pursue these too, but I understand they are not the most important). Rather, it’s the intangible aspects reflected in behavior – moments of experience, feelings, the sense of being alive, satisfaction, etc.

There is a phrase in the Dao De Jing that I find very meaningful (I always think of it when making decisions):

“Therefore, observe the subtle through the constant void; observe the boundaries through the constant presence.”

Boundaries here mean limits.

What does it mean? It tells us to constantly see the intangible to observe the essence of things; to constantly see the tangible to observe the limits of things.

When it comes to recruitment, the intangible could refer to a person’s personality, values, and thoughts, while the tangible could be their specific skills and abilities. The two are not in conflict; they complement each other.

I can clearly feel that in China, people often focus on tangible aspects, while the intangible is often ignored or downplayed. It’s like a cup – the tangible part is its shape, but it’s the intangible, empty part inside that makes it a cup. Can you say the intangible part isn’t important? I think the same principle applies to other things. No matter how busy you are, you should always take time to reflect on what is intangible and what is tangible. From a macro perspective of life, what is most important to you?

“Therefore, observe the subtle through the constant void; observe the boundaries through the constant presence.”


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