Recruiting From a Global Talent Pool

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Sarah Fister Gale for Talent Management magazine. She discusses the current shortage of quality talent at home that is forcing recruiters to take their efforts abroad and suggests what they need to know.To read the complete article, check out all the resources, and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by Human Capital Media, please click here.

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With companies finally finding steady profits after years of budget tightening amid the recession, hiring is on an uptick and recruiters are keeping busy as the labor market tightens. However, the hiring upswing is providing talent more opportunity to explore many job options, heightening the competition among recruiters for top talent.

This shortage of talent has become the No. 1 challenge for companies, according to a “2015 Recruiting Outlook Report” by employer reviews website What’s more, nearly half of all hiring decision-makers say they don’t see enough qualified candidates for open positions, and 26 percent expect the challenge will only increase in the coming year, the report said.

“It’s a supply issue, particularly if you are looking for people with STEM degrees,” said Nicole Maddox, lead technology recruiter for Seattle-based real estate software firm Redfin, referring to science, technology, engineering and math degrees.

Even if the number of total degree holders is on the rise, “the number of people who are really good is a lot smaller,” Maddox said, adding that competition for those people is fierce.

That’s putting companies in a tough spot. If companies can’t find the right people to fill these roles, it will directly affect their ability to expand and meet increasing customer needs.

For many, the answer is increasingly to turn to global recruiting options. “A lot of countries have as good, if not better, education programs than the U.S.,” Maddox said.

Amsterdam has developed a technology hub comparable to Silicon Valley, and Singapore is known for its pool of highly skilled financial services experts. Israel, meanwhile, has a reputation for producing highly talented STEM professionals; Maddox said Tel Aviv has nearly just as many female as male engineers, “which is really exciting as a recruiter.”

Companies are also looking globally as a way to support international expansion efforts, according to Charles Macleod, global recruiting leader for professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in London.

“Unless you are a purely domestic business, hiring people with cultural awareness and language skills can be very useful to the ‘internationalization’ of your business strategy,” Macleod said.

Still, finding great talent and figuring out how to bring them back to the United States is complicated. Visa issues, localized recruiting practices, language barriers, employment law and social recruiting abroad are areas that require attention from recruiters and talent managers.

Global Recruiting

Whether recruiters are looking for hard-to-find engineers or candidates with global business experience, most begin their international search online.

The Internet has become global recruiters’ best friend because it gives them a way to reach talent pools anywhere in the world, said Maddox, who has international hiring experience through her roles with Inc., Jobfox Inc. and Living Social Inc. in addition to Redfin.

Maddox said whenever she considers taking a recruiting effort global, her first step is figuring out which country will have the largest amount of best candidates. “A lot of times, I’ll start with a Google search of where people are looking for specific types of jobs,” Maddox said. She then looks at metrics like the number of jobs posted in a specific country, traffic on job boards from that country and the number of quality résumés posted to job boards.

“Sometimes you can query Quora and get a specific answer about where the best talent is,” Maddox said, “but most of the time you have to make assumptions based on the numbers you find.”

Once she has a target country in mind, Maddox said she will start looking for relevant conferences in big cities to identify which association websites to post job openings and which events to attend. She also said she uses LinkedIn, Twitter and other international social media websites to tap local communities.

“I look for user groups in the area where I am recruiting, then I send a message to the leader,” Maddox said, adding that she might ask for permission to post recruiting information to the group or for the host to query members of the group privately on her behalf.

Once Maddox identifies specific candidates or a promising talent pool, she said she makes her travel plans.

“The recruiting process must involve some face-to-face meetings,” Maddox said. This means either sending recruiters overseas to conduct interviews or flying candidates in. There are benefits to both models. “If you bring the candidate to your home office, it gives you a chance to sell them on the city and the culture,” Maddox said.

On the other hand, sending recruiters to candidates’ home countries also sends the message that the company values candidates’ talent and is willing to invest the time and money to recruit them.

“Asking someone to relocate to a new country is a tall order,” she said. Making the effort to meet them in person demonstrates that you acknowledge the gravity of that request.

The Internet has become the global recruiter’s best friend because it gives them a way to reach talent pools anywhere in the world. However, Maddox said overseas recruiting trips are in many cases a luxury for some companies. In those cases, video interviewing can make it possible for companies to vet overseas candidates virtually and still develop a level of trust. “It depends on your culture and your recruiting process,” she said.

For PricewaterhouseCoopers, recruiting globally is about more than filling hard-to-fill roles — it is adding diversity and knowledge as well. “We are working in markets that we weren’t in 10 years ago,” Macleod said, “so hiring people with cultural awareness and skills that are relevant in those markets helps us understand how to do business there.”

In today’s global economy, finding talent from a specific country doesn’t mean that’s where you should recruit. “Talent from high-growth countries, like Nigeria, Egypt and the rest of the Middle East, are spread all over the world,” Macleod said, adding that the most talented students from these countries often go overseas for school to expand their own global experience.

Recruiters at the firm are especially drawn to these candidates because they have the specific market experience the company is looking for while also demonstrating a willingness to relocate and the ability to adapt to new cultures. Macleod said it is sometimes easier to vet because they may already be in your home city.

To find these candidates, Macleod’s team reaches out to the embassies of those countries for information on students who are studying locally; they then use that information to target specific colleges or communities with recruiting messages. He said the firm also uses virtual tools, like online career fairs, to connect with candidates that are farther away and post messages about the events on social media to get the word out.

“It’s a lot more effective than renting a room, hanging posters and waiting for people to come,” Macleod said.

To make the most of these virtual engagements, Pricewaterhouse encourages participants to spread the word to their own social networks. This can be especially useful, Macleod said, as international students often have strong ties with other students from their home countries.

Macleod’s team uses these events to build talent communities of potential candidates from target markets and nurtures those relationships until they are ready to hire.

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Here is a direct link to the complete article.

GaleSarah Fister Gale is a freelance journalist, blogger, feminist, liberal, mom, crossfitter — not necessarily in that order — based in Chicago. To check out her other articles, please click here.

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