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  • 執筆者の写真Mutsumi Gustavich

Navigating the Tides of Change: Unveiling the Challenges of Mid-Career Job Transitions in Japan

Today's content might be a bit questionable in terms of fitting the theme of this blog, "About Japan."

However, I hope that through this post, you'll understand the issues with career changes in Japanese companies, from the perspective of someone like me who has repeatedly changed jobs in Japan.


Firstly, there's a Japanese saying, "Even a rock will warm up if you sit on it for three years."

It's one of Japan's proverbs, meaning that if you persevere through hardship, eventually there will be some change, and the seeds of improvement will sprout.


Now, let's start with the article about the title.

Some might raise their voice in surprise at the title, wondering if it likens humans to animals! But this is a phrase I use as someone who has worked at many companies through mid-career hiring, so no apologies there, and I'd like you to read on.


Imagine a highly experienced person, who has produced results, comes for a mid-career interview.

If their experience and personality match the desired position, one would naturally think, "I definitely want this person to join our team!"

Having been in the interviewer's seat several times, I understand that when you find a really good candidate, the desire to have them join becomes stronger.

Questions like "Can we really give them a clear role?" or "Do we have the resources to provide an environment where they can thrive?" might unfortunately take a backseat.


As a result, hiring becomes the goal, and for example, something as small as having almost no one in the office on the new hire's first day can happen.

(I've seen many talented seniors go through this, and I've experienced it a few times myself.)

It can make one feel unwelcome, even leading to thoughts of another job change...

Perhaps this is what happens when hiring becomes an end in itself, without thinking about what comes after.


Returning to the title, the question is, "How many people can actually 'tame' a talented mid-career hire?"

The idea of "taming" might be wrong.

But as long as I'm an employee, hired by a company, I recognize that I'm paid for my contribution to the work. (Of course, there are many unfair aspects...)

Thus, I have no objection to being a "company dog."

However, I certainly want to escape from an uncomfortable environment and have no desire to contribute to a company that doesn't value me.

There's always a reason when a domestic dog bites. It's almost certain that dogs don't bite or bark at humans without a reason.


Many companies struggle with how to handle mid-career hires.

They hire them for their careers, yet try to mold them into their own ways or teach them from scratch like fresh graduates, as if disregarding their human rights and career history.

Career hiring should evaluate the career one has built, and hence, their previous salary should be a consideration for their new salary.

It should be an acknowledgment of their efforts and background.

Why does this person have such a salary? Why were they valued that way?

When making an offer, consider what is expected of them and whether you can provide the opportunity to fulfill those expectations.


Every boss I've had after changing jobs has told me, "Please bring a new breeze," and "Feel free to act."

But when I believed those words and brought "a new breeze," I often experienced the proverb, "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down."

When I took "Feel free to act" seriously, I was told, "That's not how we do things here."

In every company, there's an effort to mold you into their template, making me feel suffocated.


When hiring career professionals who have proven results, understand that "they are not fools." They work on the premise of "What can I do to contribute to this company?"

It's unlikely that someone who forgets they are being paid and guaranteed by the company is a fool.

If such a person doesn't shine after changing jobs, the cause might lie not with them but at our feet.


Especially in Japan, there's a stigma that "people who change jobs frequently have issues."

But in many countries, changing jobs yearly is normal.

The average annual raise in Japan is around 6,000 yen, despite an average increase of only about 2%, whereas changing jobs can lead to a 10% increase.

The world of work is not limited to Japan.

Why did that person change jobs? It's also necessary to look at their previous workplace.


To repeat, dogs don't run away, bite, or bark without a reason.

The ignorance of those hiring, who are letting go of talented individuals, might be the reason.

Not just companies, but the country as well.

Why is talented manpower draining?

The problem isn't always on one side - the actor.

Understanding this and reflecting on oneself is essential.


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