Akiko Naka of Japan had already been through the ringer when it came to her career by the tender age of 34.
She started by getting hired by Goldman Sachs, where she worked as an equity saleswoman. When she left that job, she tried to make it as a professional manga comic artist. When that didn’t work out, she landed a job at Facebook.
And not content to leave it at that, she quit to establish her own company, a recruiting social network called Wantedly Inc. She took it public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange last year, and is one of the youngest women to head a Japanese listed company.
Naka is an example of a young Japanese person who’s shunning what was long a standard career path in Japan — graduating from a top university and staking out a career at a major company. Instead, she’s going it alone, seeking to harness the power of social media — and her own experiences — to try to reinvent how recruitment functions.
“All my failures were a chance to learn,” Naka said in an interview in Tokyo.
Wantedly, which is seen as a LinkedIn for millennials in Japan, is an online portal linking job seekers directly to companies. The platform, which also offers other services, is built around matching users and companies that have the same motivations, and it doesn’t allow job postings to mention salary or benefits. The focus is on what companies do, how they do it and perhaps most importantly, why.
“LinkedIn is from about two decades ago,” Naka said. The U.S. company was established in 2002. “It was born in the era of paper resumes, and matching salaries and skills,” she said. “What we’re aiming to do is to match a company’s direction — what they are doing something for — with the user’s direction, and having them work together so that everybody benefits.”
According to Naka, that focus on motivation, and the company’s service of giving prospective employees a chance to visit companies on more casual terms, will ultimately lead to better matches than the traditional model of rounds of formal job interviews.
“If both companies and job seekers put on makeup when they are seeking to match, both of them will be unhappy in the end,” Naka said.
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