Marketing and PR Opportunities
I don't often talk about the job opportunities for marketing and PR positions. In fact there are a ton of jobs out there - however, you don't hear about them much in the foreign media because of the fact that for such positions companies mostly hire from an "inner circle" of marketing professionals. To get into this inner circle, you need to have experience, be in the right industry that the hirer is active in, and in 90% of cases be Japanese.
Let's look at these 3 factors. Required experience in the marketing business of course depends on exactly what you want to do. At the top end of the marketing profession are the glamour jobs such as marketing director, product manager for a famous brand, and the PR/IR manager for a large company. At the other end of the spectrum are marketing assistant jobs and work handling communications for a smaller business.
In the last six months, the biggest demand for marketers is for those who have had brand management experience. For those of you who don't know, this means that the person has the ability to receive a product or service, and create and drive an entire marketing project for it, including running a team that executes the various stages of promotion. Clearly the person with the best chance to get this kind of experience is someone who is in a larger consumer products/services company. So, if you're planning your career and this type of job is one of your goals, think big companies or ad companies.
Next, you have to be in the right industry. Obviously this is not something you can easily plan ahead for, except to say that over the next couple of years, I'd be more willing to put my money on the luxury goods and basic foods industries continuing to be successful than, perhaps, locally produced manufacturing tools. However, where the demand is right now is in the following industries: cosmetics, designer fashion goods, cars, restructuring banks and insurance companies, foreign hotels, etc. I expect that as the economy starts to recover following the Iraq conflict, the travel industry will also experience a rapid recovery to deal with pent up demand.
I would say that being from an appropriate industry is one of the key factors in successfully winning these types of jobs these days. Although knowhow is also important, companies are looking for an edge, which is to be found in people who intimately know the market sector: what drives it, the competition, and the media. Indeed, having the right background to match a job can often allow the candidate to ask for a premium on remuneration.
Third, what about being Japanese or a non-Japanese? Practically speaking, most companies are looking for Japanese. Yes, I know that there are a number of major firms with non-Japanese at the top of the marketing totem pole, but if you look carefully, almost all of these people have been in the company somewhere else in the region and are brought in to the executive level because they are trusted. That said, there are occasionally opportunities for foreigners who speak absolutely perfect Japanese and who can understand the nuances of the language as well as a consumer could (which after all is a key skill in marketing anywhere) - usually as a marketing director, reporting to the foreign head of the operation and interacting with senior marketing people back at head office. The exception to the above, is where a domestic company has an overseas marketing focus, thus providing opportunities for the foreign marketer.
Lastly, the opportunities for marketers in foreign companies are equal for men and women, but I more often see women getting these jobs and excelling in this field because they are perceived as being more sensitive to market needs and changes, as well as being more flexible with creative briefs and evaluations. For once, Japan's stereotyping of the sexes works in the favor of our female readers.
As always, my contact details are simply: firstname.lastname@example.org. Looking forward to getting some enquiries...