HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting

The Least You Need to Know Before Recruiting Internationally

If you’re thinking about taking your recruiting efforts global, you’re not alone. A growing number of employers are expanding their talent acquisition strategies beyond U.S. borders. However, while there are compelling business reasons to do so, it’s far more complex than recruiting domestically.


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From permissions and paperwork to additional expenses to complex relocation issues, employers need to be ready before taking the plunge. It starts by knowing your major challenges, finding ways to handle them, and then continuously refining your global recruiting methods as you go along.

Define Your Specific Goals Up Front

Some of the top reasons companies are recruiting internationally are to fill critical skills gaps, gain broader perspective, and leverage foreign employees’ expertise before entering a new market. Articulating your objectives gives you the opportunity to confirm that global recruiting is indeed the best way to go.

Furthermore, identifying your goals may help you narrow your recruiting zone. Case in point: If you need highly specialized expertise you can’t seem to find domestically, focus on countries where there is a surplus of such professionals. For example, Europe is currently experiencing a shortage of software developers but has a surplus of architects.

Interview Global Applicants with Forethought 

One of the first challenges international recruiters face is the issue of time zones. For example, there’s a 12-hour difference between New York and Sydney, Australia. Setting a mutually agreeable phone interview or video conference can get a bit sticky. It sounds basic, but do your time zone research before scheduling interviews.

Before a video chat, brush up on your cultural etiquette. For example, pointing at a person is considered offensive in numerous Asian countries. A little homework can ensure you get off on the right foot.

Evaluating international candidates is about more than weighing skills and experience. Global relocations aren’t easy; some culture shock is inevitable. Candidates who are extroverted and adventurous and have a demonstrated sense of humor are more likely to acclimate more easily, so look for those qualities, too.

Be Poised to Help with Visas and Other Legalities

Chances are, your international hires will need support obtaining the appropriate work visas and work permits, as well as dependents’ visas. If you don’t have the internal expertise to accomplish this—and many companies don’t—a relocation management consultant should, either directly or via a service partner.

Keep in mind that it can take 5 to 7 months or more to get U.S. Customs and Border Protection paperwork in order. International recruiting requires advance planning.

In addition, consider offering your new hires a preemptive tax briefing so they can learn how relocating will affect their taxes—both in their native country and the United States—as well as any tax assistance you provide.

Craft a Global Letter of Assignment Template

A global letter of assignment is a relocation document that clarifies the agreement between the employer and the new hire. The letter specifies the individual’s job title, responsibilities, the length of the assignment (most international relocations aren’t permanent), and compensation. It also outlines the available relocation benefits.

The letter should be signed and dated by both the new hire and the employer.

Take note: The duration of the employee’s stay in the United States is important in multiple ways. It determines everything from what visa to apply for to housing and moving needs.

Expand Your Relocation Benefits for International Hires

If you’re already relocating employees within the United States, your relocation benefits probably include a household goods shipment, house or apartment hunting, and travel to the new destination.

Those logistical factors get considerably more complex when moves are international. For one thing, the costs are appreciably higher, so employers should plan on increasing their budgets.

For another, all household goods need to pass through U.S. customs. Some may be subject to duty tax, and there are restrictions on bringing cars, pets, and even prescription medications into the country—all of which need to be addressed in advance of the move.

Plan to Help Your Expats Get Comfortable 

Adjusting to a new culture is one of the most difficult challenges employees and their families face when relocating abroad. Helping expats settle in helps guarantee their success in their new role.

Even if expats speak English, they can struggle with transportation issues, registering kids for school, opening a bank account, and navigating the U.S. healthcare system. For this reason, many employers rely on destination service providers—third-party consultants who help expats acclimate, easing culture shock.

In addition, make sure your employee’s new coworkers are helpful and welcoming. No one is better equipped to give your new hire help tips on commuting, the best lunch spots, and what to see and do in his or her new city.

Continuously Evaluate Your Global Recruitment Efforts

Recruiting internationally is an investment in your company and its future. Once you have developed an actual program, you’ll want to measure its effectiveness. By monitoring your expats’ performance and results, tracking relocation costs and other expenses, and analyzing cost versus benefits, you can not only ensure that your global recruitment program is worth it but also continually improve its return on investment.

Michael Krasman is a serial entrepreneur who has cofounded five high-growth businesses over his 15-year career. He is currently the CEO and Cofounder of UrbanBound, a cloud-based relocation management software company that is reshaping the way employers offer and administer relocation benefits to their employees.