The Necessary Nuances Of Global Executive Searches

Tamarind Search
3 min readApr 17, 2021
(Photo by Jason Ortego on Unsplash)

As a niche boutique executive search firm, Tamarind works with clients across the world.

As part of this, we pride ourselves on being both aware of and sensitive to cultural context — we believe this is one of the many points of difference that puts us head and shoulders above our contemporaries.

West is West?

Take as an example Western Europe and the US — culturally speaking they have many similarities, but each has its own distinct way of doing business that needs to be taken into consideration. There are similar etiquettes and unspoken rules though, which makes recruiting from one to another a relatively straightforward process.

Eastern Promise

Japan (a key marker of ours) is on the other hand an altogether different landscape, requiring more preparation before diving into an executive search assignment. Here, we take a closer look at the workplace cultures and etiquettes one is expected to be familiar with prior to entering the recruitment process.

Cultural Values: Politeness, formality and respect are the foundations upon which business is conducted in Japan. For example, addressing formally with the honorific suffix “San” rather than first names during initial interactions, and being prompt for your appointments, whether in-person or electronically. The latter is a marker of your trustworthiness as a businessperson.

Be Direct: English is a second language in Japan, so the emphasis is on straight-talking. It is expected that formal communication be fact-focused and to the point, rather than peppered with pleasantries or small talk. This can change though, once a rapport is established through familiarity. Being ‘straight-to-the-point’ is perceived as sign of being serious and business-like.

Elevated Written Communication: It is expected that a discussion be followed-up with a written communication, detailing the conversation and additional facts, prior to a more in-depth conversation. Generally, the course of establishing a connection involves speaking with a potential client, then emailing them details of your interest in them, followed-up with a more in-depth conversation once they have had a chance to review the information and are ready to discuss details. Though this does lengthen the process somewhat, it also ensures that both parties are clear on the facts and there are no misunderstandings.

Managing Expectations: Japan is an employee-driven market, where a person might be juggling multiple offers simultaneously. Employee engagement is high too, and therefore it is comparatively difficult to convince an employee to change jobs. So it generally takes longer, with a wider search criteria to find a candidate in Japan. Being patient and advising clients to be aware of longer lead times for a job search is essential in Japan.

As a truly global executive search firm, you can rely on Tamarind to handle your recruitment process knowledgably, efficiently and in a way that optimises the opportunities available in any given region. For more information, get in touch today.

Written by — Dr Ekta Ahuja, APAC Head, Tamarind Executive Search



Tamarind Search

A boutique search firm headquartered in Cambridge, UK providing executive search excellence in Pharma across US, Europe and India.