Hello Work!

The good news is that, without a doubt, the job market coming into 2010 is looking promising. Companies seem to have worked through excess inventory and human capital and are looking to rebuild. In fact, what some firms are finding is that the cuts made in the downturn were actually too deep, and this is welcome news for job hunters.

The changes in the works could be particularly big for accounting and finance--but the needs and opportunities come with twists.

Companies may find their finance departments shorthanded but their optimism for the future is laced with caution, and in many cases lingering headcount freezes.

And while the uptick in the economy is driving demand, Japan’s impending need to comply with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is another catalyst. Unfortunately, there is an acute shortage of IFRS professionals in Japan.

This is to be expected as IFRS have, up until now, been practiced predominately by European companies or finance specialists from multinational companies with a presence in Europe (IFRS is currently the standard in the European Union, Australia and Singapore). Moreover, the need for Japanese ability in the vast majority of finance departments in Japan further reduces the small pool of candidates.

One result of the above scenarios has been an increase in contract hiring, which is still a novel concept to many finance professionals and hiring managers in Japan. This option offers a "try before you buy" opportunity for both employers and employees, and generally more money for employees than a full time job.

In short, Japanese workers with strong qualifications and financial skills--particularly IFRS--will find themselves increasingly in demand. Japan will also likely need to open more fully to outside expertise in order to implement IFRS.

(David Price is the Managing Director for specialized recruitment firm Robert Half International in Japan.)

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