Hiring Stories from Mercari’s Talent Acquisition Team #WorkWithMercari

Hi! I’m @asai from the Talent Acquisition Team.

Mercari Group is currently in the midst of intensive hiring, and that goes for the Talent Acquisition Team, too! For the first time in two years, we’re looking for new members.

There are many different ideas of what “hiring” means for Mercari. Today, my coworkers in the Talent Acquisition Team and our manager look back at the history of Mercari’s hiring activities and where we are today.

*Face masks were temporarily removed for photos

Featured in this article


  • Takanobu Kuboki / @kubokkie

    Talent Acquisition Team Manager
    Joined Mercari in December 2018. Including previous jobs, he has worked in domestic/overseas hiring for internet-based companies for more than 10 years. Aside from hiring, he is also in charge of introducing our new HR system.

  • Maho Hashimoto / @mahoh

    Talent Acquisition Team
    Joined Mercari in November 2018. After four months of being in charge of hiring for the corporate side, she was put in charge of engineer hiring. She is currently planning events to promote Diversity & Inclusion as well.

  • Jessica Ho / @jess

    Talent Acquisition Team
    Came to Tokyo from Hong Kong in 2016. After around two years working at a recruitment company, she joined Mercari in November 2018. She’s now in charge of hiring for engineer and engineering manager positions.

  • Reiko Kato / @rachel

    Talent Acquisition Team.Joined Mercari in April 2018. After joining, she was involved with planning and implementing internal communication strategies as part of the Culture & Communication Team. She joined her current team in July 2019. She has been involved in planning initiatives to improve candidate experience and introducing HR systems, and she is now in charge of hiring for the corporate division.

  • Saori Asai / @asai

    Talent Acquisition Team.Joined Mercari in October 2018. As a recruiter, she is in charge of a wide range of hiring activities, not only covering Mercari JP’s engineering division, but also hiring engineers and designers for the corporate side.


What the TA Team Looked Like in 2018

@asai: I’m kind of nervous to be interviewing other recruiters, but here we go! So I realized that all of us, including me, joined the company in 2018. I want to start by talking about the hiring situation at Mercari then.

@kubokkie: I was in charge of HR at my previous company as well. From the outside looking in, Mercari looked like a company full of talented individuals, utilizing the latest hiring methods to great success. I remember being told by the previous Talent Acquisition Team manager before I joined that things were still changing rapidly internally and that I would have a lot of work cut out for me. Once I joined, I could see they were right. Things really were chaotic, but I mean that in the best way. (Laughs.) I came to see that Mercari had been running full speed ahead through its period of dramatic growth, and this only led me to have even greater respect for the TA Team members at the time.

@kubokkie

@asai: At the time, we were doing whatever we could, prioritizing huge intakes of the kind of talent we needed to make it through that phase. I joined right in the midst of it, and every day was just chaos. I remember being constantly swamped with hiring requests that teams would bring to us.

@jess: Right? It was really hard for me to get caught up right after I joined. The selection process, how to use the hiring system, there wasn’t anything like a document summarizing how these hiring processes work. I just had to have my mentor and manager tell me verbally and then learn on the job. On the other hand, I think it was great how nothing was set in stone. It was an environment where we could try a lot of stuff, trial-and-error style.

@rachel: I’m a bit different from everyone else. I first joined the Culture & Communication Team. That team was responsible for planning a wide range of internal communication initiatives in order to cascade Mercari’s values throughout the company.

Changing Hiring Methods as Mercari Aims to Become a Global Company

@asai: The kind of talent we were looking for has been changing, as Mercari started shifting from being a startup into a company aiming to become a global company in earnest. That also means that we needed to change the way we hire as well.

@jess: Most of our hiring had been on a referral basis up until then, but we started to work on strengthening other recruitment channels at that point. We established the Direct Sourcing Team and blazed new trails with new hiring sources and overseas job boards. I think it was a really good shift for us considering that even now, we’re still doing new things to strengthen hiring, seeing what sticks and what doesn’t.

@mahoh: We spend a good amount of time talking with each candidate to build a long-term relationship with them. I feel like that also played no small part in helping to improve the candidate experience. For high-volume hiring, it is common to focus on how to streamline operations, but Mercari’s hiring focuses on careful interactions with each candidate more than anything.

From top left: @jess, @mahoh, @rachel

@kubokkie: Personally, that was one of the most shocking parts of joining Mercari for me. Each recruiter is in charge of properly managing the talent pool for their assigned domain, and they regularly keep in touch with past candidates. While there’s still things that need to be systematized, I get the impression that other companies don’t focus on candidate experience like us.

@mahoh: Also, we found that when great talent joined the company, regardless of their reason for joining, their reputation would encourage others outside the company to take interest. I found the idea of creating that kind of virtuous cycle—that ecosystem—so motivating.

@asai: Before the COVID-19 pandemic got out of control, we also traveled overseas for hiring. Maybe @mahoh and @jess could talk a little bit about it, as the members in charge of these projects.

@mahoh: Those projects started after the TA Team proposed it to our VP and Director. We got the upper management involved, with an engineering manager and engineer coming along.

@kubokkie: That’s a great example of how one of the TA Team’s “Go Bold” proposals was adopted by the company. In order to pull that off, those team members who had experience hiring overseas led the charge, showing consideration for the ownership each recruiter felt over their candidates while continuing to provide support.

@jess: It meant more than just going overseas to talk about Mercari; we had to come up with and implement a proper talent acquisition strategy. It was a truly great experience for me as a recruiter, and now we have really diverse members working at Mercari, from around 40 different countries. We’ve seen real results, with the engineering organizations composed of nearly 50% non-Japanese members at the moment.

@mahoh: Right. We’ve even done the interviews locally, contributing not only to branding, but to actual hiring as well.

@kubokkie: We pulled it off by utilizing our knowledge of overseas conferences, which our TA members had been amassing since before I even joined the company. I think we were able to maximize our impact during this phase.

Why Join the Mercari TA Team Now?

@asai: I want everyone to share what they think is appealing about joining the TA Team now.

@kubokkie: It’s definitely the way our work environment requires a “Go Bold” attitude. We want to do more global hiring. There aren’t many companies in Japan trying to recruit overseas, and it’s precisely because we’re a Japanese company that our members can lead this exciting work. I think that’s a real benefit to working here.

Global hiring also helps solve some of the issues Japan is facing. Considering the speed of economic globalization and technological advancement we see today, it seems clear that talent acquisition can make or break a company. I’m convinced that Mercari and other startups can create a tech hiring ecosystem here by bringing the best talent from abroad, and I want to share that expertise with the rest of Japan.

@mahoh: In terms of one’s own career, I’d say it’s that you can build your career yourself. When I first joined the company, I was in charge of hiring for the corporate division. After I told my manager that I wanted to work on engineer hiring, I was assigned to that area much quicker than I expected.

@asai: Speaking of transfers, I want to hear from @rachel!

@asai

@rachel: As I mentioned earlier, I was initially part of the Culture & Communication Team when I joined the company. I moved to HR in July 2019, where I was in charge of planning, proposing, and analyzing data to improve the candidate experience (CX).

It was after that, in October 2019, when I started to be involved with hiring people with disabilities and corporate-side recruitment as a temporary recruiter. Holding hiring events almost every week and working together with teams on initiatives was really fun. More recently, I was assigned as the lead of a project to replace our hiring system. I returned to being a recruiter once the new system was introduced, in October 2020.

@asai: I heard that you were quite vocal about wanting to be a recruiter. Why was that?

@rachel: I was only a recruiter for around three months, but I felt a need to go back and really lead hiring initiatives this time. I wanted to act on my own and make an impact.

My work as part of the Culture & Communication Team, my first assignment after joining Mercari, was mostly concerned with internal communication. I came up with initiatives to show people how much fun they could have working at Mercari. That naturally led me to think: I’d love to share how fun it is working at Mercari with people outside the company as well. I realized that as a part of HR, I could share what’s good about Mercari outside the company, and so I decided to transfer.

@asai: Nothing makes me happier than hearing about people outside our team who decided to transfer in!

Hiring as a Company-Wide Effort

@asai: What do you like about the work environment?

@kubokkie: When I first joined, I was fairly surprised by how the actual teams themselves would commit to helping out with hiring. For example, I was floored by how engineering teams would take the initiative to hold events and study sessions. I was also surprised by the way the team’s manager would check scouted talent and give feedback. I think it’s because previous members of the TA Team laid the groundwork for this company culture. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I have a lot of respect for the TA Team members that came before.

@mahoh: They not only considered hiring processes, but also more efficient, more reasonable methods to apply to the selection process, helping us develop the process across the entire TA team. Even for the live coding test included in engineer interviews, the members in charge of the interview started to administer the test themselves, using trial and error to figure out how best to do it. This process was then gradually rolled out to the other teams as well. I’m thankful that engineers themselves were so committed to our overall hiring activities.

@kubokkie: Right, it’s not just HR doing the hiring. Teams with an open position work in parallel with us to find someone. On a nearly daily basis, I think about what a great culture we have, where everyone at Mercari works together on hiring. I think this is a really comfortable work environment for recruiters.

@asai: I feel another characteristic of our team is how we actively involve ourselves in other projects outside of hiring as well. Take me, for instance. I’m involved in the EX Journey project, which aims to improve employee experience, and I’ve not only worked on hiring, but also come up with and implemented actions to improve EX alongside team managers from across the company, many of whom I had no prior relationship with.

@rachel: I helped run an event the other day which was part of our Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) project. You get to interact with members of other teams who you would normally have no relationship with and expand your horizons by doing work outside of just hiring.

@kubokkie: Our TA Team members are involved in a wide variety of projects aside from those as well, such as introducing the hiring management system, improving candidate satisfaction (CX) with the hiring process, and overseeing the company culture doc.。

Going Head-to-Head with Prominent IT Companies Overseas

@asai: What about the structure of the TA Team?

@kubokkie: Aside from recruiters, we also have members who exclusively work on sourcing, as a way to facilitate more direct hires.

@mahoh: It’s really great to have a team where some members focus mainly on sourcing like this. Mercari is probably one of the only Japanese companies whose hiring team structure supports both global hiring and direct sourcing. This structure allows us to not only passively accept candidates, but actively reach out to candidates both in Japan and abroad.

@kubokkie: It’s precisely because Mercari is trying to be a company based in Japan, but present worldwide. Trying to recruit people abroad to come and work on the Mercari app often puts us in competition with prominent IT companies overseas. However, it’s because we’re willing to make that effort that we can reach such talented candidates. That superior global talent is the whole reason we try to recruit outside Japan. You can only get this experience at a company like ours.

@mahoh: We recruiters need to attract candidates not just based on the company either; we need to sell it as an opportunity to work in Japan. We’re able to offer that perspective because we understand how Japan is positioned abroad and think about how Mercari stacks up against other overseas companies. And not just in terms of average income, but tax laws and other aspects as well.

What Kind of Recruiters is Mercari Looking For?

@asai: What does Mercari want in a recruiter?

@kubokkie: Naturally, we expect a professional attitude. I mentioned how the actual teams we recruit for are very cooperative, but it’s precisely because they’re so cooperative that as recruiters, we each need to consider how we can create value for them. From their side as well, they understand that cooperating with the recruiter will only help the process go more smoothly, so they come to us with topics both big and small. You might hear a “joyous” yell from members of the TA Team when they realize their calendar has been completely filled with these meetings. (Laughs.)

There’s also fun in having the autonomy to handle all these hiring matters on your own. Giving input to agents about the hiring details, involving yourself in the selection process, coming up with hiring strategies based on the unique characteristics of each position, etc. This environment requires you to actively involve yourself with every hiring-related matter.

@mahoh: Not only the candidates, but many of the other teams which you’ll be working with have English speakers, so English ability at a business level would be required.。

@asai: I had never had to use English for work, and honestly, it was difficult when I was first put in charge of a position which included non-Japanese speaking candidates. At that time, @mahoh went to the trouble of making me an English script for interviews… Now I can talk with candidates without having to read the script. It took some time, but now I can even handle the closing alone.

@jess: This position isn’t really for recruiters who don’t like to talk to the candidates. You also need to have flexibility while still sticking to your opinions, since things can change pretty quickly around here. If you can understand and enjoy the different phases of a fast-changing company, this is for you!

@rachel: Right, people may also struggle if they tend to only do things once they are instructed, those who just go through the already set-in-stone motions, in an environment where all hiring processes are firmly established. It’s good if you can contribute to other projects other than hiring like D&I, our culture doc, or even the introduction of the HR management system, which I’m involved with. Taking on projects like these, you really feel that you’re helping to build the company.

@asaiIt’s true that we do what we can, even outside our assigned areas. We all understand that achieving results as a team is the most direct way to contribute to the company mission, but it’s not about just meeting your own goals and ignoring everyone else’s.

@jess: Agree! People who draw too clear-cut of a line between work and others, with no interest in what others are doing, might not be a good match.

@kubokkie: There’s a sense of urgency in achieving our mission, given that without hiring candidates, there are businesses which would not even be able to get off the ground. In that sense, it’s a great responsibility. Even with Mercari at the size it is now, there are situations where we can’t find the perfect person for the role internally, so it’s our job to find the right person to fill that gap. It’s times like these that I feel closest to the business, with a sense that I’m directly contributing to growth.

@asai: Our company’s mission is to “create value in a global marketplace where anyone can buy & sell.” In collaborating with so many different teams as a recruiter, that mission has really come into greater focus for me. If you’re interested in joining us, don’t hesitate to apply! Thanks for reading, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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