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International recruiting: How to get started and best practices

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Hiring the right talent is of paramount importance for nearly every company. According to a recent PwC report, 97% of CEOs identified this as the top priority for business growth.

Fortunately, talent acquisition is no longer limited by geographic boundaries. The rise of distributed work and advances in technology have made it easier than ever to hire across borders.

Finding great talent begins with the international recruitment process. In this article, we’ll cover the fundamentals of international recruiting, outline step-by-step instructions on how to get started, and cover a few best practices that make great recruiters stand apart from the rest.

What is international recruiting?

International recruiting in Human Resources Management (HRM) refers to the process of identifying, attracting, interviewing, selecting, hiring and onboarding employees from across the world. ‍

The international recruitment process

While the exact recruitment process is unique to each organisation, the steps listed below are often part of most company’s strategy. You’ll probably notice that many of these steps closely resemble those applied in domestic recruiting. There is some overlap, but there are also some key differences.

1. Identify your hiring needs

Defining your hiring needs is the first and most critical aspect of the recruitment process. There are a variety of potential reasons for said needs, which may include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Lack of critical skills or abilities
  • Increase in workload
  • Vacancy
  • Promotion

This step may be used to address short-term gaps or as a tactic in strategic workforce planning.

After identifying these gaps, you should come up with a list of target roles you need to hire for. You should also segment these roles according to criteria like skills, experience and education.

2. Come up with a recruitment plan

Once you’ve come up with a target list of roles and segmented them by skills, experience and education, do the following: 

  • Determine how impactful each role will be for your organisation. Think about key success factors such as sales goals, expansion plans, etc.
  • Determine how scarce the skills are for each role. For example, data scientists with experience in natural language processing and machine learning are quite scarce, while entry-level support staff may be more readily available.
  • Make a list of the roles that are high-impact with scarcely available skills. 

You should recruit for these roles both domestically and internationally to increase your chances of finding qualified candidates. Knowing which roles will offer the highest impact, will also help you determine your hiring budget, which sourcing methods to use, and so forth. 

At this stage, you should also consider: 

3. Write a clear and compelling job description

As with any open position, it’s important to write a thorough and convincing job description. This is especially true when recruiting internationally. In addition to the usual best practices for writing effective job descriptions, like including specific job titles, using an authentic tone and outlining detailed responsibilities, there are additional criteria to be mindful of:

  • Clearly indicate that the position is open to international candidates.
  • If your company plans on offering relocation support, mention that, too.
  • Summarise benefits that you offer, such as relocation support will be included as part of your relocation support package; as well as general employee benefits
  • Emphasise key skills and qualifications more so than educational requirements, as these vary from country to country
  • Highlight your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Link to your company’s social media accounts, blog and other employer branding channels that convey your company culture

4. Advertise the position

Next, decide where to advertise your job posting. Try to utilise a variety of platforms, like your company’s careers page, social media channels, career sites like LinkedIn, and so forth. You should also look into international job boards like: 

If you want to take things to the next level, you can leverage programmatic job advertising, which refers to the purchasing, publishing, and optimising of job ads by software rather than actual people. Programmatic advertising uses machine-learning algorithms to show the right candidates, the right ads, at the right time.

5. Recruit candidates

Posting and advertising job descriptions is only half the battle. To increase your chances of finding relevant candidates in the global talent pool, you’ll need to actively recruit them. You can reach out to candidates via:

  • LinkedIn
  • Social media
  • Online groups
  • Employee referral networks

6. Review applications

When reviewing applications from international candidates, conduct due diligence as usual. Screen for applicants who meet the minimum requirements for the role and create a short list of individuals you’d like to interview. Before doing so, however, it’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • CVs differ from country to country; there’s no such thing as a standard universal format
  • If possible, use a blind review process, which hides a candidate’s name or other identifying information to minimise bias.

7. Pre-screen and interview candidates

When recruiting internationally, the actual interview process can be structured according to your organisation’s needs and preferences. In addition to making sure that your company has a structured hiring process, there are some crucial details every recruiter should be aware of when interviewing global talent. 

The laws and norms regarding candidate interviews vary from one location to another. For example, in some countries it is normal to ask about race, religion and marital status, whereas in others it's strictly forbidden. Keep the conversation business-focused and frame questions around the job requirements and your company’s culture and needs.

Furthermore, when interviewing candidates for employment in a country that is not their own, remember to ask whether they are legally allowed to work in the country and already in possession of a work visa, or if they’ll need sponsorship.

8. Determine compensation

Will you be hiring a candidate to work remotely, at a foreign subsidiary or relocating them across borders? The answer to this question will have an influence on their compensation.

Each country has specific labour laws that regulate: 

  • Minimum wages
  • Paid vacation
  • Sick days
  • Government holidays
  • Maternity and paternity leave
  • Other forms of leave
  • Health insurance
  • Pension schemes

Research local regulations carefully to ensure your employees receive the compensation they are legally entitled to. And if you are relocating your new employee internationally, take relocation support benefits into consideration.

9. Extend the job offer

Once you’ve chosen a candidate and finalised their compensation, you can make them a job offer. Your offer letter should include:

  • The starting salary for the position
  • Non-pay benefits for the position
  • Paid time off and leave policy
  • Potential severance pay
  • Remote and hybrid work policies
  • Included company equipment
  • Other terms and conditions of employment

When writing the offer letter, you may want to use the local language to ensure clarity and make your candidate feel welcomed. 

10. Hire

If the candidate accepts your offer and can legally start working in the country where the employment will take place, you can proceed to the onboarding process. However, if they require visa sponsorship, you should begin the immigration process as soon as possible. Though some companies do this in-house, it is advisable to partner with an experienced relocation service provider. 

11. Onboard

The last—but definitely not least—step in the international recruitment process in onboarding. This stage of the hiring process is critical in providing new hires with the knowledge and resources they need to work successfully and integrate into your company culture.

For international hires, this step comes with added importance. If your employee is working remotely, you’ll need to establish an onboarding framework that’s engaging and makes them feel connected to your company, even from a distance. If they’re relocating across borders, they’ll not only need onboarding for your company, but the destination country as well. To that end, you should strongly consider offering cultural integration training or providing them with local orientation assistance. These perks can also be included in your relocation support package.

International recruiting best practices

If you want to take your recruiting game to the next level, follow these tips and tricks:

Segment target markets

Recruiting best practices vary from country to country. There is no “one size fits all” approach. Keep in mind that hiring norms, compensation, and benefits can differ vastly depending on the location. Therefore, your recruiting strategy should be tailored to each target market. In marketing terms, you need to segment the market and understand the drivers for each segment. Then customise your strategy to address those drivers.

Offer a compelling candidate experience

The interview process can be challenging, emotionally and mentally. For some, the prospect of getting a job could make or break their career or help alleviate financial stress. For others, the mere act of having to market their skills and abilities to potential future employers can be nerve wracking—especially if the interview is conducted in a candidate’s second or third language.

Employers should always be mindful of the candidate experience and the investment job seekers make. Within the context of international hiring, that’s doubly true. To be respectful of everyone’s time, it’s important to have a structured hiring process and to clearly communicate the steps and expectations from the beginning. Additionally, at all stages of the process, decisions should be communicated in a thoughtful, authentic and timely manner.

Develop a strong international employer brand

Cultivating a strong employer brand sets your company apart from the others, making your organisation a more attractive option for talent. And the numbers speak for themselves:

To that end, when recruiting internationally, showcase your company’s commitment to global talent. An easy way to do that is to chronicle the stories and experiences of international talent at your company and share them on your company blog, social media and other relevant channels. This will provide candidates from abroad with precious insight into your company’s culture and value system.

Recruit from emerging markets

If you’re going to recruit internationally, then you should truly consider all of your options in terms of target locations to hire from. The world is full of great talent, much of which comes from emerging markets with rapidly growing economies and educated workforces. 

Additionally, for companies looking to open foreign subsidiaries, emerging economies are often a sound choice, as they tend to be friendly towards foreign companies in order to foster investment, economic growth and job creation.

Hire for skills and capabilities

For years, most employers have used university degrees to measure a potential candidate’s ability to do a job. Recently, companies like Apple and Google, have dropped their university degree requirements and, instead, have decided to prioritise skills and capabilities. In large part, this can be attributed to the ongoing tech skills gap and increasing difficulty companies face when sourcing and hiring for in-demand roles. Companies that adopt a similar approach will have a definite competitive hiring advantage.

Innovate through technology

The HR tech market is currently in the middle of an unprecedented renaissance. The global human resource technology market is projected to grow from $24.04 billion in 2021 to $35.68 billion in 2028. Competition in the industry is becoming increasingly stiff, which means that vendors must innovate often and regularly release new features to maintain market share.

Applicant tracking systems, people management suites, and global mobility platforms are driving human resources and talent acquisition transformation. Products and features like programmatic job advertising, AI-powered applicant screening, chatbot recruiting and automated appointment scheduling are helping hiring teams increase headcount at global scale, more efficiently than ever and while maintaining compliance. 

The bottom line

Who you hire defines everything. Hiring success is business success. One of the biggest obstacles to that success is the ongoing talent and skills gap. One powerful solution to that challenge is international recruiting. And thanks to advances in technology and the recent rise in distributed, global working, it’s more attainable than ever—for companies of all sizes.  

Ready to take the first steps in international recruiting? Then schedule a call with our team. We’ll be happy to help you get started.

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