8 tips for recruiting internationally

Andy Agouridis Talent acquisition

Since you’re interested in international recruitment, you are probably considering growing your business abroad. Or perhaps you have already expanded internationally but without the expected recruitment results. Either way, you have probably understood that successful international recruitment is different from hiring domestically. 

When it comes to setting and executing a domestic recruitment process, we tend to take some things for granted. We already know the culture, the market, and the legal framework. So, we focus on refining our talent acquisition based on each role without having to look at the bigger picture. Unfortunately, this approach won’t cut it when it comes to international hiring.

If you’re looking for a seamless international recruitment process, we suggest starting with the basics. While this can be a tedious exercise, focusing on what really matters can make it faster and easier. In this article, we present you with the key areas that deserve your attention.

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1. Know the legal framework

Your business leaders and recruiters have a strong understanding of local hiring legislation. However, employment law can differ significantly from country to country. If you’re looking to set up a legal entity abroad to hire internationally, understanding the law is a crucial first step. This step can provide key information on what are the requirements to expand to the region and how you should go about hiring. Once you have this information, you can inform your recruitment strategy and process accordingly. Ignoring this phase could result in non-compliance and hefty fines, so we suggest treating it as an important and urgent step.

To get started, we recommend speaking with a combination of legal and HR consultants. Employment lawyers can provide information on local regulations while HR consultants can help you translate these to a recruitment strategy. Depending on the scope and budget of your expansion, you could also employ an expert in-house.


2. Understand the local market

If you are a recruitment leader or senior manager, chances are that you are already an expert in your local market. You may have a good high-level understanding of the global market, too. However, it’s unlikely that you are an expert in the markets of all countries. Understanding this gap can be the first step to a successful recruitment strategy.

We suggest connecting with experts from the local market to deepen your understanding. If possible, you may want to have someone placed locally where they can get a better feeling of business. Some of the questions we suggest considering are:

  • What is the current state of the market: is it employer or candidate-driven?
  • Who are our key competitors in the eyes of talent? Who do we have to fight with to hire top talent?
  • What are the key factors that affect the local recruitment and employment market?
  • Do experts expect any big upcoming changes? E.g. any regulatory, political, or economical updates?
  • When is the best time to penetrate the market?

Once you have the above information, you can develop an informed strategy. Then, you can design a recruitment process based on this strategy that will be relevant not only to your business but also to your target market.


3. Take culture into account

As Peter Drucker had accurately put it “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Even if you approach international recruitment in a compliant and relevant way, nothing will come out of it unless you attract local talent. And the only way to achieve this is by understanding their culture, embracing it, and incorporating it into your recruitment process. This exercise can be tricky, as it’s not something you typically have to do domestically. If you’re not familiar with this step, the key is asking questions that help you understand your target audience. Here are some examples:

  • Where does top talent hang out - physically or online?
  • How does our target audience dress, speak, and behave?
  • What do they need and like from an employer?
  • What are their red flags?
  • What is socially acceptable according to them?

While you can find some information online, we recommend going deeper. Many experts can help here, but someone born and raised locally who also understands international business may be a good option. Once you gather the required information, make notes on what to do and what to avoid. Then, these can be used to draft your recruitment process.


4. Check what local competitors do

Even after you have built a good understanding of key market elements, it’s always a good idea to check what successful competitors are doing. We suggest aiming for local employers similar to your company who have been in business for a long time. Mature local businesses have tried a variety of recruitment strategies and processes and are likely to have identified the optimal one.

Some of the things to keep in mind include:

  • What recruitment channels do they use?
  • What does their career website look like?
  • How do they manage their social media?
  • What is their recruitment process?
  • What salaries do they offer?
  • What recruitment agencies do they work with?

While we don’t suggest copying their talent acquisition practices, it is advisable to keep it in mind. This way, you can tailor what they do to your needs, saving time, effort, and financial resources.

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5. Use a global process as a basis

Every business is unique in its mission, vision, values, and brand. Showcasing yours allows talent to self-screen themselves, meaning you can attract more relevant candidates. We suggest developing a recruitment process incorporating your brand in any region and country. Also, while local nuances can be key, we suggest sticking to global best practices whenever it goes above and beyond. This will allow you to respect local needs while operating at a global business level. Also, this approach will unify parts of your recruitment process, making things more consistent for your and your applicants.

Some parts of your recruitment process that could remain global include:

  • The foundations of your employer brand
  • The characteristics of your target candidate
  • A commitment to DEI recruitment
  • Putting automation, AI, and machine learning at the heart of your process
  • Keeping things simple and fast


6. Add local process elements

Adding local elements to your process can make your approach more refined, detailed, and successful. We recommend using legal, business, and cultural nuances as a basis to develop a recruitment process that works for your target audience. Some of the things that you may want to localise include:

  • Accommodation or local laws and regulations
  • Selecting platforms where your target audience hangs out
  • Speak to talent in their own language - physically and metaphorically
  • Using an assessment process in line with candidates’ expectations
  • Showing interest in the local community
  • Having recruiters who understand the local culture

7. Build a dedicated recruitment team

Depending on the scale of your operation, you may want to consider developing a dedicated international recruitment team. Since we’ve established that succeeding in international talent acquisition is different from hiring domestically, it makes sense to have people whose goals are aligned with your global needs. This will allow them to develop local expertise that will make international recruitment smoother in time.

This doesn’t mean that global resources shouldn’t be involved in the process. Contrary, we suggest involving senior management in setting the high-level strategy, global recruiters in executing part of the process, and perhaps HR shared services to keep costs low. However, using a resource that focuses solely on your target geography will enable you to go above and beyond, making the new region more familiar.

8. Use sophisticated recruitment technology

Recruitment technology can make or break your process. Firstly, a sophisticated tool can help you to meet key global requirements that are always important. These include a fast, straightforward, and high-quality recruitment process that will increase efficiency and boost candidate experience. Regardless of location, best practices will be appreciated by local applicants. Also, we suggest looking for technology that is flexible enough to meet local regulatory or business requirements. Tools that are easy to configure based on your needs are highly recommended, as customisations can be costly and time-consuming.

Lastly, it is key to select software that can showcase your brand in detail, attracting the attention of your audience. For example, Jobylon allows employers to customize their job ads in various ways to put their best foot forward and delight potential candidates. If you are on the lookout for a recruitment tech partner, we suggest reaching out to have a chat on how we can help you.

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Andy Agouridis

Andy helps candidates and employers connect faster and better. Apart from being a Jobylon contributing writer and a Careers content creator. He has a background in HR with Fortune 100 businesses, holds an MSc in HRM, and is a Chartered member of the CIPD.

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