The World Is Flat, But International Recruiting Is Still a Bumpy Road



Thanks to globalization, living, studying, and working overseas have become nearly frictionless for many. Ambitious, goal-oriented professionals now have the opportunity to gain exposure on the international stages of their respective fields. Meanwhile, more and more business are looking to break free from geographical constraints and tap into international talent pools.

While the process of recruiting from abroad may be significantly easier than it once was, it’s still far from simple. Making a successful international hire requires navigating a complex web of obstacles, regulations, and considerations. Failure at any one point could lead to a disastrous outcome.

Before you embark on an international hiring process, make sure you’re prepared to address these following factors:

1. It’s as Much About the Candidate’s Family as It Is About the Candidate

Whether or not a candidate has a family will dramatically change how the recruiting process proceeds. If the candidate is single and unattached, the organization will only have to woo them. However, if the candidate has a spouse and/or children, the recruiting process will be as much about them as it is about the candidate.

Sure, the candidate may need work permits and other accommodations, but what about the candidate’s family? What can the organization do to ease the transition for them? For example, the business might want to consider connecting the candidate with high-quality local schools or language centers where the family can learn the native language of their new home.

When attempting to source great talent from abroad, it’s imperative that your company be prepared with a relocation package that meets the whole family’s needs, not just those of the candidate. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time enticing international superstars to your organization.

2. Understand Your Candidate’s Long-Term Motivations Before Extending an Offer

Before you take the plunge with an international candidate, you must have a full understanding of the candidate’s long-term career goals. Between the visas, background checks, and travel expenses, international recruiting is a costly, cumbersome process, even in the best of circumstances. You don’t want to spend all that time and money on a candidate who is just going to leave after a couple of months on the job.

Simply having a frank conversation about the candidate’s short- and long-term goals can be an extremely effective start here. You need to get the candidate to open up about their personal and professional objectives. Pay keen attention to how well defined the candidate’s goals are. Someone who really knows what they want will be able to articulate their vision clearly. A candidate who has trouble doing so may also have trouble committing to your organization for the long term.

Pay attention, too, to the scope of your candidate’s goals. If they are beyond the scope of the company’s plans, or poorly aligned with the company’s vision, the candidate will be much more likely to leave after a short period of time.

Panel interviews offer one effective way to get a firm grasp on a candidate’s motivations. When multiple decision-makers are involved in the evaluation process, they can reach a more accurate consensus on the candidate’s fit and likelihood of sticking around.

For more expert recruiting advice, check out the latest issue of Magazine:

3. Assumptions Can Be Costly

Another often overlooked aspect of international recruiting is ensuring the candidate has a full grasp of what life is really like in their prospective country of employment.

Candidates are often overwhelmed when transitioning to a culture that differs from their own. Adjusting to local customs, food, transportation, and the cost of living can be difficult, and a bad transition might even spur a candidate to quit and return home.

As such, it is a good idea for recruiters to provide candidates with in-depth information about life in the new country. Point candidates to resources where they can conduct their own research, and consider connecting them with current employees in the country who can serve as buddies during the transition. You may even want to enroll the candidate in an online course that will help them fully appreciate their new home.

Whatever you do, you want to avoid any sudden surprises. A big move is always stressful, but you want to make the candidate’s settling-in process as smooth as possible.

4. Background Checks Take a Whole Lot Longer

Depending on the specific field in which the business operates, it might be necessary to conduct certain background checks on a candidate before finalizing a hire. Keep in mind that international background checks are even more time-consuming than typical domestic background checks — and that’s saying something. Be sure to allow ample time for this stage of the process when recruiting abroad. You don’t want to lose all the candidate’s momentum and enthusiasm by forcing them to wait weeks or months for documentation that could have been secured much earlier.

Whether you need to obtain a specific skill set that is in short domestic supply or have found a world-class superstar living in another country, international recruiting can bring a whole host of benefits to an organization.

However, importing talent comes with its own risks. If you fail to make the necessary preparations, your company may end up going through a painstaking and expensive process for naught.

Andrew Lynch is a directors at

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