In the Age of Remote Work, International Hiring Is Still Tricky: Best Practices for Recruiting Global Talent

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Recruitment can be complex and challenging, so it’s no surprise the average hire costs thousands of dollars. The process takes time, requires organization, and can be a logistical nightmare under even the best circumstances. When you’re making international hires, the headaches only increase.

But sometimes, a foreign employee is the best addition to your team, and it would be a shame to miss out on great talent just because international recruiting is more complicated than recruiting domestically. As long as you go into the hiring with both eyes open, however, you should be able to navigate international hiring with minimal frustration.

Here are some of the most important things to focus on when recruiting a candidate in another country:

Get the Right Tools and Support

The internet has made international recruitment infinitely easier than it once was, but you’ll still need some specialized tools or services to help you through the process effectively and legally.

For example, you’re going to need to know the relevant employment laws, market salary rates, and other labor market information for the country in which your new hire is located. You’ll also need some tools to assist in onboarding and otherwise managing talent that’s located halfway around the world. Communication and collaboration across international borders can be tricky.

One silver lining of the coronavirus-driven shift to remote work is that more professionals are now used to collaborating via platforms like Slack, Zoom, Trello, and Google Drive. Still, it’s important that you do your research to find the collaboration, payroll, compliance, and communication tools that work for you and your organization.

Consider Logistics

The logistics of hiring across country borders are a big part of why international hiring can be so complicated. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the job-related elements of the recruitment process as you search for that perfect-fit candidate, but if you don’t tend to the logistical side of things, your international hire may end up being more work than they’re worth.

For example, applying for — and securing — the right work visas takes a lot of time and requires a careful analysis of each country’s laws. What sort of labor laws apply to your new hire? If the hire will remain in their home country, you’ll have to ensure you comply with those laws in addition to any laws in your organization’s home country.

Taxes are another area to consider carefully. If your international hire is working remotely, it’s important to be thoroughly versed in the relevant tax laws of both your home country and the home country of your new hire. You don’t want to be surprised by any hidden tax barriers.

If you’re asking a candidate to relocate, it’s wise to put yourself in their shoes. Is your relocation package appealing enough that top candidates will take the offer? Can you offer any assistance with navigating the school system, housing, public transportation, and anything else a relocating hire may need to adjust to?

Check out the latest issue of Magazine for more career advice and recruiting trends:

Assess the Local Market

Hiring internationally means entering a brand new labor market, the dynamics of which may be very different from what you’re used to. Before attempting to recruit talent in a new country, it’s important to gauge:

Available manpower: If you try to recruit software developers in an area with a developer shortage, for example, you may find the task difficult. On the other hand, if developers are plentiful, you’ll have your pick of a qualified talent pool.

Average turnover and productivity rates in the target market: Understand the average productivity, work hours, and turnover can help you establish realistic expectations for the output and tenure of an international hire.

The cost of living: When setting a budget for an international hire, you must ensure it’s based on the hire’s cost of living, not yours. A salary that sounds luxurious in one market may be downright insulting in another.

Understand Cultural Customs

A recruiter is a company’s most valuable brand ambassador in the hiring process. How they interact with candidates can be a key factor in influencing top talent to accept a job offer. However, what makes international hiring tricky is that different cultures have their own customs governing interpersonal interactions.

When entering a new talent market, recruiters must ensure their behaviors are tailored to that market’s prevailing customs. Things like email and phone etiquette, appropriate body language, and manners of speaking can vary widely from country to country. Recruiters should study up on the relevant cultures before reaching out to candidates. Otherwise, they could inadvertently offend the best candidates on the market.

When it comes to international hiring, things will get personal early in the process — and that’s okay. You’re asking an individual to interact with a company based in another culture. You may even be expecting them to relocate themselves and their families for the position. Cultural competency and strong communication skills will go a long way in building successful relationships with international talent.

At the end of the day, international recruiting doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With the right tools and support, careful planning, and some market research, you can make your international hiring process as smooth and effective as your domestic process. The minor logistical challenges of global hiring are but a small price to pay for access to an enormous, worldwide talent pool.

Sofia Hernandez has been a senior HR executive at multiple Fortune 500 companies.

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Sofia Hernandez has been a senior HR executive at multiple Fortune 500 companies. She has written for a variety of major media outlets.