Recruiting overseas


27th May, 2022

10 things to consider before you start recruiting overseas

Struggling to find the right person to hire? Before jumping headfirst into recruiting overseas, here are the major considerations to work through.

With local talent stretched thin, more businesses are considering whether to start recruiting overseas and work with remote teams, or facilitate immigration pathways for new visa holders.

And according to a study by Hubble HQ, 42 percent of employees are open to the possibility of working overseas. And in an increasingly connected world where remote technology is empowering employees to choose their own work environments, that’s a less daunting prospect than it ever was.

Due to cloud technology, “working from home” can become “working from anywhere”, so an overseas role doesn’t necessarily mean asking someone to cross borders to join your organisation.

With many businesses expanding into global markets, and with access to an international talent pool, employers are embracing the possibility of diversifying their workforce outside of their own borders.

There are myriad benefits to building an overseas team (you can tap into knowledge of local markets, for one thing), but also several factors to consider before you can start your international recruitment drive.

Here, we’ve broken down the top considerations to think through before you begin recruiting globally.

1. Research, research and more research

Research is often the first step in any recruitment process, but if you’re thinking of hiring staff from overseas it’s even more essential to know exactly what you’re getting into.

It goes without saying that not every working culture is the same, so you’ll need to be acutely aware of your new labour market before you post your job ad or start interviewing candidates.

Have you thought about the average rate of pay for someone carrying out a similar role in the same country, for example? Have you considered the employment laws governing each territory and how they might differ from yours? Taking on an overseas worker without a prior understanding of their varying needs is unlikely to foster a productive relationship in any workplace.

2. Immigration and visas for travelling workers

When you’re hiring a worker from overseas, much will depend on whether they’re going to work remotely from their own country of residence or start a new life in your locale. If it’s the latter, it’s on you as an employer to ensure the employee is eligible to enter and work in your country.

What’s more, even if a non-citizen has the right to work in your country, their visa might restrict the type (or amount) of work they’re allowed to undertake (for instance, a working holiday visa holder can usually only work for the same employer for up to six months). Before taking on a non-citizen, you can check here if they’re eligible to work in Australia (or here for New Zealand).

3. Cultural differences aren’t to be underestimated

Chances are your workplace is already a melting pot of diversity according to age, gender and ethnicity.

Look at New Zealand’s parliament (the most diverse in its history), which has almost 50 percent female representation and the highest proportion of LGBTQI MPs anywhere in the world. Even their oath of allegiance sworn by new MPs in 2020 was repeated in 10 different languages.

When it comes to embracing cultural diversity, the little things matter. For example, did you know that in Japan (where respect for elders is not taken lightly) it’s customary to ask someone’s age when you first meet them? Or that in Germany, a thumbs-up is considered an offensive gesture? You’ll need to be aware of and respect these nuances when recruiting across borders (be they religious, ethnic, educational or otherwise) as these cultural distinctions are likely to come into stark contrast.

4. Setting strong lines of communication

Seamless communication is the bedrock of any well-performing company, whether you all work out of the same downtown office or you’re spread across cities, countries and continents. But when the latter is true, it’s even more essential to maintain a clear line of communication and ensure that absolutely everyone (regardless of location, language or time zone) is kept informed, stays included and has a platform to share their ideas.

With remote technology now available to all, it’s easier than ever before to meet ‘face-to-face’ at the click of a mouse, while internal communication tools like Slack (which has almost 300,000 daily users in Australia) remove the need for back-and-forth email threads and needless meetings by keeping discussions all in one place.

Whether you’re sharing important project updates or off-topic “banter”, your employees will want to stay instantly connected and updated on all matters (critical or trivial) wherever they’re based.

5. Plan around time differences

Say you’re based in Sydney and you have a colleague in New York. As you’re getting into your pyjamas and sipping a late-night cup of cocoa, they’re working day is just beginning (given the 14-hour time difference between the two cities). Time differences like these present a new challenge for businesses employing a widely dispersed workforce, one which (if managed poorly) can disrupt communication and stall progress on important projects.

Not all time zone discrepancies will be extreme and you may be able to strategically schedule meetings to ensure maximum availability of personnel.

As a leader, occasionally you might just need to suck up that 10pm meeting if it means keeping your overseas colleagues in the loop. And when yours and your colleagues’ calendars don’t align, it’s essential to set clear tasks and expectations (using a project management tool like Jira will help) so they know what to be working on when you’re not around.

6. Become familiar with laws and regulations

If you’re hiring an employee from anywhere else in the world, you’ll need to ensure the employment laws applicable to that country are followed, or risk employee disgruntlement, fines, or worse.

As an example of how laws can differ between nations, Australian employers are legally required to provide their employees with at least 20 days of paid annual leave; in the US, however, this is seen as a perk and not a legal requirement (offering a minimum 10 days is customary).

The simplest way to ensure you’re covering all the legal requirements of hiring globally is by using an Employer of Record. Remote has a helpful guide on the benefits of using an EOR, but essentially it acts as the local employer on a company’s behalf. Removing the costly process of opening legal entities in multiple territories, an EOR will handle tax, payroll, benefits and HR requirements, so you can be confident you’re operating within the laws of each country you’re hiring in.

7. There’s also public holidays to remember

We’ve already touched on paid leave entitlements, but you’ll also need to factor in each countries’ specific list of public holidays. While Anzac Day is observed throughout Australia and New Zealand, for example, employees in other countries will be expected to work as normal. Conversely, South Africa’s Freedom Day (celebrating Nelson Mandela’s election as president) will have little bearing on the weekly schedules of workers in Melbourne or New York.

Peruse this office holidays calendar and you’ll see there’s a public holiday somewhere in the world for almost every day of the year. Cambodia appears regularly, since Cambodians observe 28 different public holidays throughout the year (more than any other country).

With global holidays springing up on a range of different days, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the calendar and ensure you’re planning for your employees’ time off so you’re not caught out.

8. Set up remote management platforms and processes

In a job landscape where remote (or at least hybrid) working has become a given for many employers and their employees, it’s highly likely your company already employs at least a proportion of remote workers. In fact, 40 percent of Australians were regularly working from home by 2021.

If your workforce is not only remote but dotted among varied geographical locations, managing them means relying purely on virtual means. Luckily, the hasty adoption of remote technologies such as Microsoft Teams platform makes this a lot more painless than it might’ve been, but it’s important to strike a balance between setting clear expectations and placing a high level of trust in your teams to carry out their jobs remotely.

9. Managing team dynamics

One of the biggest challenges facing geographically-diverse organisations is how to foster a sense of community among teams. If your employees never meet (or very rarely do) then how can they realistically form the same type of bond as a team who meets in an office several times a week or slinks off to the bar together on a Friday afternoon?

Of course, you could fly them over for face-to-face sessions from time to time, but that’s costly and environmentally impactful. Instead, make sure you keep the lines of communication always open, and schedule regular huddles, brainstorming sessions and one-to-ones. Be sure to include your overseas team members in the non-work stuff, too; you could run a virtual coffee morning to encourage general chatter, for example.

10. Foster trust-based relationships

We’ve touched on it briefly, but trust is a highly valued commodity in the working world, particularly in a remote or hybrid environment where employees are spending much of their days in silo.

Research by Payscale found that 72 percent of employees who are able to act and make decisions on their own are satisfied in their jobs, making them less likely to get itchy feet or jump ship altogether.

When you and your employee are on opposite sides of the world, it’s going to be impossible to micro-manage them to the point where you know what they’re up to 24/7. That’s probably not a bad thing, since your employees want to feel empowered to do their jobs without being checked up on at all hours. Again, set clear expectations and schedule regular one-to-ones so you can track progress, but don’t let yourself become a control freak.

Are you ready to build an international team?

So, there you have it. If you’re an employer and you’re looking to dip into an ever-expanding pool of overseas talent, now might just be the time to plow ahead with an international recruitment strategy. But before you can even think about welcoming international workers into your team, make sure you don’t overlook any of these essential elements.