Career : Recruitment on an international level – tips and tricks

This article is by , the Managing Director of Lingo24. Visit Christian's website at

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There are generally two main reasons why a company would be looking to recruit internationally. While the job market as a whole continues to feel the squeeze, it may still prove difficult to find candidates locally with the skill-sets you're looking for, especially in highly specialised areas. Casting your net internationally will obviously increase your chances of finding the ideal candidate. 

Alternatively, you may be looking to create new business opportunities abroad, or to further expand any such operations already in place. It's not always possible or even desirable to relocate existing employees and so you may find yourself in need of new people 'on the ground', with the necessary linguistic skills and cultural and local knowledge already in place. Whether trying to attract the best in overseas talent to join your domestic endeavours, or find the right people to help you on their own home turf, there are a number of issues to bear in mind.

Recruitment Agencies

Using an international employment agency – whether an agency offering international recruitment or a local agency from your target market - can certainly help to simplify the process, especially where there are Visa requirements and other legal issues. Be sure to spell out clearly and precisely the qualities you are seeking in a candidate and ensure your instructions have been understood. Remember also that recruitment should be a process, not a one-off transaction between yourself and an agency. Hiring on-the-ground labourers may be relatively straightforward but you'll want to be involved in the final decisions regarding management and other important positions.

You should also be aware that levels of regulation regarding employment agencies vary from country to country and that scams are certainly not unheard of. Even an agency that seems fair from your side may be charging local applicants hugely inflated fees to match them with a foreign employer, and your involvement with such a company could damage your brand image and reputation.

It's especially important when dealing with an agency based in an unfamiliar territory that you confirm their legitimacy. Take a look at their website to ensure they're articulate and authoritative, do some Google research on their brand name, request to see business registration documents and contact a few of their references, ideally ones based in your home country, rather than assuming that any or all listed are genuine.

It is, of course, perfectly possible to conduct your own recruitment without using an outside agency, but you should always ensure that you are familiar with all relevant local legal and fiscal practices first. 


Universities are a prime source of fresh talent and many graduates will be looking to secure positions with foreign employers. Building relationships with foreign universities and getting involved with their programs will put you in a prime position to access this constant flow of talent.

The precise details will vary depending on the nature of your business, but many universities are keen to establish foreign business links. Identify the most geographically and educationally pertinent targets and contact the institutions directly to discuss the potential benefits for both sides. This may not always provide immediate solutions to your staffing needs, but will pay dividends beyond the short term.

The power of the internet

The world wide web, as the name implies, is a truly global phenomenon and can be used to put you in touch with talented people around the world. You may already be familiar with LinkedIn, but business networking sites such as Viadeo and XING can be equally valuable resources. Even less traditionally business-oriented social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be useful for making contacts and for 'spreading the word' about who and what you are searching for. 

In addition, there are countless niche sites tailored towards their own fields and providing networking opportunities for professional communities. You can browse professional profiles, find out about specific projects a manager has worked on and review their skills before you even think about making direct contact or scheduling an interview.

Finding the right people

Sometimes skills vary from place to place. One territory may be stronger than another when it comes to areas such as IT, sales, languages or research, and a little research of your own should help you determine the most appropriate market on which to focus your efforts.

When it comes to appointing managers in a foreign market, you'll ideally be looking for candidates with strong leadership skills and a demonstrably international outlook. Even if they are to work strictly locally there will be international liaison issues to deal with. When considering candidates, appropriate language skills may also be crucial.

Recruitment on an international level presents all the same difficulties as domestic recruitment and more besides, but the extra pool of talent it provides can make it a profitable, and sometimes even a crucial, venture.

Copyright 2011 Christian Arno

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