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Finding talent can be tough in any environment but since the pandemic, the labor market has been particularly difficult to navigate. Some sectors and companies struggle to find enough high-quality employees, while others are trying to reduce costs amidst challenges like high interest rates and wage growth.
One potential solution is for companies to utilize cross-border recruitment to expand their talent pools. In this age of remote work, it’s often easier to open up recruitment far beyond your company’s immediate geographical areas. And for some companies, that means finding international workers.
However, cross-border recruitment has its share of challenges too, such as navigating legal and cultural barriers. But when done well, cross-border recruitment can be a boon for meeting your talent acquisition and overall HR goals.
What Is Cross-Border Recruitment?
Cross-border recruitment means recruiting prospective employees in countries other than a company’s home base. For example, a U.S.-based company might use cross-border recruitment to source talent from Europe and Asia.
Cross-border recruitment can also be called international recruitment or, in some contexts, global recruitment. In today’s world, where many individuals are seeking a lower cost of living and flexibility by moving from the U.S. to Southeast Asia, for example, the meaning of cross-border recruitment could potentially be expanded to include expats or temporary travelers.
As EY finds, 93% of workers see working internationally as a life-changing opportunity, with many employees and employers taking advantage of cross-border work; 88% of HR professionals see mobility as helpful for tackling global talent shortages.
What Roles Are a Good Fit for Cross-Border Recruitment?
Essentially any role that can be done remotely could be a good fit for cross-border recruitment, assuming there aren’t any compliance issues such as licensing requirements that might necessitate living or working in a certain area.
Some roles tend to be a better fit than others for cross-border recruitment. You might not want to hire someone to manage your U.S. West Coast operations if they’re living in Europe, for example, as the time zone difference alone could be a challenge. But you might hire sales staff in Europe if you’re a U.S. company trying to expand there.
A SaaS sales manager, for example, is one of the top cross-border recruitment roles, writes Nick Broughton, Partner at global recruiter and HR tech provider GoGlobal, in a LinkedIn article. “This role plays a crucial part in establishing a company’s foothold in a new market. To ensure success, companies seek candidates who possess a deep understanding of the local business culture and marketplace,” he adds.
Broughton also writes that some other common roles for cross-border recruitment include software engineers, data scientists, digital marketers and customer support specialists.
Top Challenges of Cross-Border Recruitment
While cross-border recruitment can be helpful to many organizations, there are some challenges you may need to overcome, such as:
1 – Legal Complexity
You might face some hurdles when it comes to employing overseas workers considering that laws differ by jurisdiction. Some legal complexity to overcome could include HR-related compliance issues, including managing payments to overseas workers, as well as other aspects like managing customers’ data privacy rights in different areas. Perhaps a cross-border worker is unfamiliar with the compliance requirements your company faces in the jurisdiction of your headquarters, which could get tricky.
“Compliance is perhaps the most important part of building a diverse team. Crossing borders to acquire talent means the rules change, and hiring companies must comply with the region’s regulations, notes an article by Workpay, an HR, payroll and benefits software platform serving Africa.
2 – Cultural Barriers
Navigating cultural barriers could also prove challenging for cross-border recruitment. Talent acquisition staff in one location might be unaware of certain customs in another location, which could ultimately make recruitment more difficult. Once hired, staff in other countries might face cultural barriers with staff in your company’s base country.
“All cultures communicate differently, so the way you recruit, interview, hire and manage employees in the U.S. won’t be the same as those in Europe or the Middle East. Some countries prefer a more formal, less emotionally driven tone in the business world, while other countries’ norms are more casual—or the norms vary by industry,” notes an article by Oyster, a global employment platform.
3 – Tech Incompatibility
International recruiting can also get tricky from a logistical standpoint. For example, some of the recruiting software and video interviewing software that you rely on might be incompatible with cross-border recruitment. A software platform or website might not have the functionality or legality to run in another country, or it might not be a good cultural fit if workers are used to using a different solution in another market.
Rather than using a patchwork of software solutions across different markets you’re recruiting in, consider ones that have cross-border compatibility in a way that aligns with your recruiting goals, suggests Kameel Gaines, Founder, CEO and Director of Recruitment of Rig On Wheels Broker & Recruitment Services, in an article for Forbes.
“At my company, for instance, we strategically chose a video conferencing solution that would work across all four countries our recruiters work from to ensure robust and streamlined communication and collaboration,” adds Gaines.
Top Opportunities of Cross-Border Recruitment
Despite some of these challenges of cross-border recruitment, the opportunities often make it worth it for organizations to find ways to expand their borders. Some of the top advantages include:
Larger Talent Pool
Similar to how remote work opens up opportunities to source from a larger talent pool within your home country, cross-border recruitment can expand your reach even further.
“Global recruiters have seamless access to the international talent pool, and they help enterprises select the best talent from multiple nations,” says an article from Multiplier, a global hiring and onboarding software provider.
Not only can a larger talent pool provide opportunities to source high-quality employees, but it can also speed up the process, considering the potential for more applicants/prospects.
“Companies expanding their talent search beyond country borders can pick specialists from a massive pool and hire them quickly. This makes expanding talent search cross-border a substantial competitive advantage over companies that are not ready to hire foreign talent,” notes the website of Northstar Talent, a global IT recruitment firm serving Finland, Sweden and Denmark.
Another opportunity with cross-border recruitment is saving money by hiring international staff. For one, you might spend less money on recruitment ads by nature of opening up your search to a larger talent pool. But also hiring staff in other countries could save money, such as when salary expectations differ.
Rather than hiring a local sales manager to move abroad to manage a cross-border region, for example, it might be more cost-effective to hire someone within that region at a salary in line with expectations in that market.
“Offshore hiring allows companies to look for talents in any location, including emerging markets, which are often full of world-class specialists with lower salary expectations and more favorable taxes,” notes an article from Lemon.io, a global software developer hiring platform.
While cultural differences can be challenging if you’re unaware of them, the flip side is that cross-border recruitment can enhance your company by facilitating more cultural diversity.
“Cross-border recruitment can open the door to a different culture, values and ways of working. This can provide an opportunity to learn, improve skills and explore new ideas,” notes a LinkedIn article from Michael Robinson, Area Sales Manager, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist, North East UK at Major Recruitment, a UK-based recruiting agency.
Even having the diversity of employees in different time zones could be a benefit to you, such as if you hire customer service support staff around the world to help customers any time of day.
How to Get Started With Cross-Border Recruitment
Begin with defining your recruiting goals. That’s because your approach may differ if, say, you’re looking for lower-cost employees vs. trying to find the best sales manager in a particular country.
From there, you might take steps such as engaging with a third-party recruitment firm, particularly one that specializes in cross-border recruitment or has a presence in the market you’re trying to recruit from. Or, your current talent acquisition team might need to go through some training, such as to navigate legal and cultural barriers to sourcing international talent.
You also might review your recruitment marketing software and the rest of your HR tech stack to see if you’re set up for success with cross-border recruitment. For example, you might want to use an applicant tracking system that supports multiple languages.
By taking these types of steps, you can overcome some of the challenges of cross-border recruitment and take advantage of more opportunities.