Hiring abroad can be very tricky. After all, you don’t know the culture, you don’t know the laws and regulations, and you don’t know the labor market. On top of that, since it’s likely your brand is not quite as popular across borders as you are at home, top talent may not even know your name. Nevertheless, there are many ways to recruit people in foreign countries – but to be efficient, we identified our top 8 strategies for you.
We even put them in a specific order, ranking the most effective solutions for hiring A-players based on cost, reach, autonomy and speed. The more you move down this list, the more expensive the solution, the higher its reach for attracting talents, and the more authority you give away to external institutions or companies. Let’s get right to it:
Low Costs / Low Reach / Low External Help / Slow
1. Use your network
One of the oldest and simplest way of contracting is to just look around and ask your friends, relatives, colleagues, former classmates, and your brother’s ex-girlfriend from Erasmus for referrals. The biggest advantage is that it’s free and there’s a high-level of trust based on where the referral comes from. However, the downside is that you’ll reach few prospects, it’s a long shot to find a great match and it’s not really scalable. While it might be a perfect solution for starting your business in your home market, it offers less value as you go abroad and your network ties get weaker. Still, there’s no harm to include it in your hiring efforts since its a low risk and low investment strategy. It’s just more ‘hit and miss’ so don’t depend on it exclusively.
2. Hire directly
Another affordable solution if you’re looking to bootstrap your expansion efforts is to search and contract talents on your own. Publish the job announcement on your website and then take advantage of your social media channels to promote your vacancies on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. If you can leverage the local meetups, find a trending local hashtag, and post the job ad in some relevant groups, you might hit the jackpot. Also, add the call for talent to your company newsletters and communication. In short, since it involves virtually no costs, it’s another fantastic option that you can easily incorporate in your HR strategy. Similar to using your personal network, however, the limitations of this approach become more visible as you operate in and target markets where you don’t have a strong presence and reach yet.
3. Collaborate with Universities
This is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated tactics on this list. Few people think of this strategy when hiring abroad, but universities, business schools and other educational institutes literally exist to prepare the next generation for real world opportunities. What better way to be prepare them than to actually talk to hiring companies and get hands-on experience? This approach can work in several ways, so the best idea is to simply get in touch with a senior professor or admin and tell them about your startup or SMB.
Most will be happy to help you and connect you with their alumni network, job board and career services department. This strategy is usually free of charge as the ultimate goal is to create more opportunities for their graduates.
Another option is to approach existing students and give them a real-life business case to work on. Whether it’s a market research, developing a digital strategy or financial modeling, you’ll get plenty of awesome (okay, decent) ideas and you’ll start building your reputation as an attractive employer in the local market. Who knows, you might actually find an ambitious new hire who joins your team after graduation. If a free collaboration isn’t feasible or relevant, you can still promote your opportunities on their job boards and partner network.
4. Speak with your Chamber of Commerce
One of the more traditional approaches of securing talent abroad is to use government institutions and public companies. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce for help and they should be very interested in supporting you since, well, it’s their job! Seeking out new recruits through a fiscal institution will also give you some much needed street cred abroad, something that can’t be underestimated outside of your home turf. Remember, no matter how great your technology and how cool your corporate culture – you’re not from here, haole!
Additionally, you’ll be amazed with the strength and reach of a public institutional network. However, the main drawback of this strategy might be a deal-breaker for companies with a small window of opportunity since government institutions are slow as, well they’re really slow. If you can’t wait to hire, look elsewhere for a faster solution.
Med Costs / High Reach / Low External Help / Faster
5. Use a freelancing site
When you’re looking for specialists, freelancing sites are an intriguing option. Platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer or Guru are incredibly popular and will give you access to millions of people looking to work remote, on a project basis or even full-time. This is certainly an interesting solution for finding specialized candidates or part-time employees, or when you simply don’t plan to open an office abroad on day one. Moreover, it likely save you some money and will keep you flexible since you’re not contracting a person full-time and don’t have bear the typical labor costs and taxes. Obviously, this strategy doesn’t work out in all scenarios, but for the right job it’s an option to consider.
6. Post on job boards and listing sites
Posting on online job boards is another easy thing to do, but compared to the previous solutions it will cost you more money to get it going. Be careful which platforms you choose and research the most popular and relevant places for your job post and industry. In general, LinkedIn is the market leader in most countries, but there are many exceptions. If you aim at expanding to Germany, Switzerland and Austria, Xing will be the place to publish your ads as it’s the preferred site for locals. Startups should be using AngelList and F6S as they tailor to the entrepreneurial-minded professionals seeking new opportunities.
Additionally, you need to take into account what type of position you’re looking for and what your industry is. For instance, in Spain you’d find Infojobs to be extremely useful for filling entry and low-level positions, but be careful because you’re inbox will get slammed with irrelevant applications. Also, don’t overlook local champions in the specific cities you’re about to launch. Local newspapers, community websites, Facebook groups and even Slack channels can be stock full of talented professionals passively seeking new opportunities.
Moreover, new portals and tech-driven platforms that match candidates by secret algorithms are popping up as the competitive recruiting industry is ripe for disruption. Hence, if you need a bit more reach, traction and speed for your hiring plans, definitely consider this strategy, but make sure you do your homework or you risk being flooded with worthless CVs.
High Costs / High Reach / High External Help / Fast
7. Contract an HR agency
One way of the easiest ways to recruit talent is also one of the most expensive – hiring a recruitment agency. Sure it’s not a bargain, but an HR boutique will deliver results quickly as they can leverage their own pool of candidates and their local networks. Thus, if you select a good hiring company, you’ll probably get the largest amount of interesting candidates and you’ll be able to make your pick. On top that, an agency will help you navigate labor laws, regulations, contracts, and scheduling interviews which will save you valuable time that is better spent on developing your product, closing sales or fine-tuning your marketing strategy. Of course, the costs are significant, but if speed, time and quality are important to you, you’ll struggle to find a better option.
The last option, outsourcing, is a quite common way of securing talent for many multinational companies. Naturally, it’s better suited for certain functions such as Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Accounting or other tasks that you don’t consider to be a core competitive advantage. The quality of service varies largely among outsourcing providers and for an outsider coming from abroad it’s quite difficult to tell which firm can be trusted to deliver the best results. That’s why it’s so important to research, study and verify a potential partner in advance.
Pro tip: Ask your shortlisted potential hires for references that you can consult directly to get a better idea of how they work, and don’t focus exclusively on quantity in your partnership contracts. Quality is usually much more important. For example, there are thousands of telemarketing providers on the market that promise 100 leads a day, but in the end, what you’ll really be getting is just a frustrated sales team fretting about useless contacts from your ‘partner’ that’s wasting everyone’s time. Be careful, there are plenty of unsavory outsourcing agencies more than willing to take advantage of your trust.
*Bonus: Use Mercurr*
We’ve done the homework for you. It’s free, fast, gives your the best quality trusted service providers in the most important cities for business. Whether you need a specialist, an agency, an outsourcing provider, an accountant, a lawyer or more, we’ve got you covered. Don’t waste precious time and resources to study the labor market and its players. Test our one-stop online solution and we’re sure you’ll come back for all your target markets and expansion plans. If you have any questions or doubts, just get in touch.
As we have shown, there are multiple ways of hiring talent outside of your home country. In the end, the answer of which option is the best, is the one that we all hate to hear – it depends. According to your situation, needs and strategic plan, you’re optimal solution may be to just post the opportunity on your website and share on social media. You never know who’s cousin knows so-and-so and can put you in touch.
At the same time, these strategies are not mutually exclusive, especially the first four options. They can be included very easily as they don’t cost you a dime. Whenever you’re considering the more expensive options for hiring, take the time to study your potential providers, agencies and platforms carefully to get the highest return on your investment.