Data Storage Salesman Follows Two Tracks Across the Pacific

To pursue opportunities in the United States and Japan, Mark Suzuki needed two sets of tools.

Dollar_SearchMark Suzuki was working for a data-storage management company in Japan, looking for a job with the U.S. based company. Whether he’d end up working in the United States or in Japan was up in the air. So he created two different versions of his resume: one for potential employers in Japan, and one for U.S. employers.

“The resume styles are different between the U.S. and Japan,” Suzuki said. “In Japan, you show a picture on your resume, and it’s OK to ask your age. Age is a big thing in Japan, people are respectful of elders, so people will put their age on a resume. Not in the U.S.”

Those were just some of the things Suzuki had learned while working in Japan for the past four years. He had also had a chance to travel around the Asia-Pacific region, and knew where he would and would not like to work. So, when EMC, the company he had been working for, decided to make some changes in management that would have meant a move to Singapore, he decided to look for another job.

“I’d already lived in Singapore, and I wasn’t keen on moving back,” he said. “It became clear I needed to make a move outside the company. At that point, I had been with EMC for six years, and I was looking for a new challenge.”

So, he left the company at the end of December 2008, unsure of where he would end up, but knowing two things: “I wanted to work for a West Coast company again, and I wanted to get back into software sales.”

His former company, EMC, was based in Boston. Suzuki, who is originally from San Francisco, had worked for West Coast companies such as Netscape and Sun Microsystems, and missed software sales.

In January, he said, he went back to the United States for about a month, looking around the San Francisco Bay area for possible sales opportunities. “The recession really hit the Bay area hard,” he said. “It’s really rough going there right now.” Compared to the U.S.’ 9 percent unemployment rate, the unemployment rate in Japan is at 5 percent or 6 percent, he said.

While he was in California he realized he would need some extra help finding a job, so he signed up for SalesLadder. “I was a little concerned,” he recalled. “At the time, every front page article in the newspaper was about recession and jobless rates. I knew my timing wasn’t good, but I did have some confidence,” he said, based on the fact that in his past experience, it hadn’t taken him any more than three or four months to find a new job.

Suzuki was familiar with the Ladders from an earlier job search. “I was introduced to SalesLadder at least five years ago. Someone sent me a link, and I tried it out then.”

He signed up for Ladders in January and noticed there were a lot more sales positions in the Asia-Pacific region than there were on the West Coast. He was pretty certain at that point he’d be heading back to Japan. And once he posted his resume, things started to go pretty quickly. He saw a notice for a sales position for Guidance Software, a company headquartered in Los Angeles. The position, a sales role in Asia Pacific that was based in Japan, fit all of his requirements, so he contacted them. He was still in the U.S. and could travel to Los Angeles to meet with them.

In fact, Suzuki had heard from four companies over the month of January while he was in the U.S. Guidance appealed to him in part because of its size, he said. With about 400 employees (compared to EMC’s workforce of 30,000), Guidance is a smaller company than he had worked at before. “We have a lot of work we need to do to grow,” he said. “I have a lot of experience with building up a sales team, and that’s what they are looking to have me do.”

Suzuki said he would encourage others to look for jobs in the Asia-Pacific region. He said he saw a lot of American companies posting Asia-Pacific roles on Ladders, and he says that U.S. job seekers have a leg up on those living in Asia. “I don’t know if may of the expat community here are tapping into Ladders,” he said from his office in Tokyo. “People here seem to tap only into the local resources. ”

He said while he does speak Japanese, it’s not always a requirement for a job in Asia, India or China. And the international experience is great to have, even if your ultimate goal is to get back to the U.S.

In the end, it worked out for both Suzuki and Guidance, his new employer. “They didn’t have to pay for my moving costs. I think that was a win-win for myself and them. For Americans living in the U.S. and looking to take a role outside the U.S., I would recommend it. You get great experience, learn business cultures from so many different countries: China, India, Japan, Singapore, Korea. It’s been a rewarding experience.”