How to Hire Bilingual IT Engineers in Japan

2024/2/21 (Update:2024/2/21)

How to Hire Bilingual IT Engineers in Japan

1. How Bilingual Engineers Can Help Your Business

Bilingual engineers are professionals who breakdown language barriers and enable smooth communication with teams from different countries and cultures.

For international projects involving operations in Japan, they are an asset not only for communication and dealing with cross-cultural differences, but also for cross-border administrative and legal matters. Their technical skills allow them to engage in the project management and development work, working on systems in different languages, overseeing localization and dealing with technically advanced issues in different languages.

2. Recruiting Bilingual IT Engineers

IT engineers who speak both Japanese and English have a high market value, and finding someone who matches your company’s requirements is not a simple task. However, knowing the best recruitment options available will make your job easier.

In this article, we look at three different approaches. Understanding their advantages and disadvantages is important before selecting which one to use.

1. Job Sites
One way to find Japanese-English engineers is to post your open positions on job search sites. This has the advantage of being easy and simple to implement, but it is time-consuming because you have to wait for people with the skill set you are targeting to find your post and apply.
There are two common mistakes that companies make when posting on a job search site.

The first is not being specific enough about the skills that are looking for in the job post, particularly when it comes to language skills. This can encourage applicants who do not meet the expected language requirements to apply, wasting both your time and the jobseeker’s time.

If you are looking for bilingual Japanese-English speaking personnel, the best way to define the language skills that you require is to use standard test scores and attainment.

Japanese Language Skills
The Japanese-Language Proficiency Test (JLPT)

JLPT is the most common measurement of Japanese language skills for non-native Japanese speakers. It tests reading and listening skills.

  • Level N1:
    A candidate at this level is able to comprehend and understand the main points of communication at a natural speed in a wide range of situations, including news and academic lectures. They are able to read and understand logically complex texts such as newspaper editorials, technical manuals and legal documents.
  • Level N2:
    This level is often considered the minimum for employment in a Japanese language business environment. A candidate at this level can understand Japanese in daily situations as well as in a wide range of business contexts, and in specialized conversations in familiar fields.
  • Level N3:
    A person at this level is able to read and understand texts about familiar topics and can listen to and understand basic Japanese conversations.

Japanese Standard Speaking Test (JSST)

JSST is becoming a more common requirement in the recruitment of foreign employees. The test can be taken over the phone or via a computer or smart device. There are 10 levels:

  • Level 9~10:
    Native or near-native speaker level.
  • Level 7~8:
    Upper-intermediate level. Can use honorific and formal respectful language in speech though some errors are expected.
  • Level 5~6:
    Intermediate level. Can use formal language, but with frequent errors.
  • Level 1~4:
    Can communicate in daily conversation but will have difficulty in business situations.

English Language Skills

The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) is the most common measure of English skills used by Japanese businesses for non-native English speakers. In the past the test focused only on reading and listening skills, though there are now optional speaking and writing components.

  • TOEIC 900+:
    People with a TOEIC score of over 900 have near-native level English. They are able to understand almost everything they read and hear. They are expected to be able to express and explain their ideas and opinions in detail and participate effectively in complex communication situations without difficulty.
  • TOEIC 800+:
    People with over an 800+ score are able to express and explain themselves clearly, and can participate in complex communication situations. While they have a high level of fluency, they may occasionally struggle for appropriate vocabulary when discussing unfamiliar topics.
  • TOEIC 700+:
    People with a 700+ score are able to participate in most business communication situations, but may have difficulties with complex tasks such as negotiations. Their fluency is generally high, though they may have trouble understanding and using advanced vocabulary and phrases.

Apart from not clearly stating language requirement, many companies also make the mistake of using job search sites that are not targeted at IT engineers. This reduces the likelihood of success simply because IT engineers are not registered as jobseekers there. Googling which job sites are favored by professionals in your industry with the skill sets you require is therefore very beneficial.

Below are some job search sites which offer job posts and recruitment for IT professionals in Japanese and English:

  • Indeed Worldwide
  • Google for Jobs
  • LinkedIn

2. In-House Training Schemes
The second method for acquiring bilingual staff is to provide language training and develop the staff yourself. Developing bilingual IT engineers with in-house language and IT training schemes is very attractive because it offers employees a clear path for professional development. Additionally, language training is seen by many employees and prospective employees as a job benefit, boosting the company’s image as an attractive and positive employer. The downside is the ongoing investment and the long-term perspective it requires in order to produce results. This approach is definitely not a short-term solution to staffing issues.

3. Temporary Staffing Companies
The third method is to secure human resources from a temporary staffing agency. This is often the most effective way to deal with urgent staffing issues and offers short-to-medium term solutions. Going to an agency can also help to avoid employment mismatches, initial recruitment expenses are low and the time it takes to find someone is considerably shorter. Good temporary staffing agencies have extensive in-house training programs for language and technical training which support their engineers’ skills development and allow them to meet clients’ requirements.

3. Does My Company Need Bilingual IT Engineers?

Every company is, of course, different, and whether you need multilingual IT staff depends very much on your business and your objectives. Below are two project case studies involving cross-border IT operations. In both cases, the bilingual IT engineers involved were ISF NET company employees who were dispatched to our clients on a project basis.

4. Case Study 1: Global Data Center Operations

With data centers in several locations around the globe, our client, a global medical health care company, had to comply with different regulations and legal requirements in multiple jurisdictions.

In order to ensure parity between the Japanese arm of their business and their other bases overseas, the company used ISF NET bilingual infrastructure engineers with expert knowledge of Japan’s data storage and management regulations. These engineers worked with counterparts overseas to ensure overall compliance with multi-jurisdictional regulations. Our engineers additionally supported technical communications between the Japanese project teams and the client’s headquarters and engaged in network and database system installation and operations.

ISF NET’s bilingual engineers ensured the smooth establishment of the client’s data center here in Japan, and its integration with the rest of the company’s systems.

5. Case 2: Network Environment Construction

In this case study, a large communication services company needed multilingual support in order to establish networks overseas for their client, a Japanese automaker. The automaker planned to introduce network connected cars to several foreign markets and needed to plan, construct and run new networks to support them.

For this project, ISF NET bilingual engineers took on project management roles and were in close liaison with the client’s IT department in Japan and its network services partners overseas. By using ISF NET’s bilingual engineers on this project, communication and collaboration between the Japanese and foreign teams proceeded smoothly through all stages of the project, from planning through to construction and implementation. In addition, the client was able to reduce costs by removing the need for translators and interpreters to act as go-betweens.

6. ISF NET’s Bilingual Services

We provide experienced and highly-qualified bilingual engineers to clients who need bilingual professionals for their IT infrastructure projects.

As companies explore new markets, the importance of bilingual engineers is increasing accordingly. Companies who are struggling to recruit bilingual engineers on their own, find working with specialized firms like ISF NET a fast and efficient way to get their projects completed successfully.

Click below to find out more about ISF NET’s services and get a free consultation.