Business Sweden in Japan received feedback from Swedish companies that they were experiencing difficulties in attracting top talents when recruiting new employees. Business Sweden started investigating the nature of these challenges in April 2014, collecting feedback from approximately 20 Swedish companies and conducting in-depth interviews with four companies.
Two major problems were identified: lack of brand power and lack of trust in foreign companies among students. Both factors made it difficult for Swedish companies to compete with Japanese companies when trying to attract talented students in Japan.
"Swedishness" attracts Japanese talents
The conclusion was that it would be beneficial for Swedish companies to collaborate in recruitment activities towards students to promote “Swedishness”. Joint marketing activities would allow Swedish companies to differentiate themselves from Japanese or other foreign companies by emphasizing benefits of working for a Swedish company, such as global business activities, comprehensive training, future career path and attractive work environment.
Business Sweden approached and conducted in-depth interviews with four leading universities; the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Keio University and Waseda University, to investigate opportunities for Swedish companies to approach target students and found that:
- Offering long term, “foreign style” internships and thesis writing opportunities could be interesting among master students at engineering departments.
- Alumni connection is a common way to communicate with students that sometimes lead to a direct recruitment process.
Meetings were thereafter held with Swedish companies to discuss the possibility of offering internships and master thesis writing opportunities to Japanese students. Meetings were also held with Swedish universities to be able to reach out to Japanese students conducting exchange studies in Sweden as these students could be interested in continuing to have a Swedish connection.
Events, seminars and networking
In December 2014 Business Sweden carried out an employer branding event at the Embassy of Sweden in order to create a platform for Swedish companies to connect with high level students and communicate a clear message about the benefits of working in a Swedish company. The event “Sweden Career Fair” was a great success with more than 230 participants, and will once again take place in December 2015.
In addition to the employer branding event "Sweden Career Fair", the talent acquisition project has so far delivered the following results to participating companies:
- Career seminar opportunities at several prominent universities
- Deepened ties with two of the top five Japanese engineering universities
- Joint corporate branding platform established with ongoing activities.
Business Sweden is continuously working to form closer ties with selected professors and career units at top universities in Japan, based on the input from participating companies. The scope is continuously adjusted and widened to include more universities to match the needs of new participating Swedish companies. Eight additional Japanese universities have been involved this year and the aim onwards is to attract more universities and participating companies.