Hiring from abroad: Is it worth it?

by Jobbatical April 22, 2016

Every business wants to conquer the world, but that’s not going to happen without a great team by your side. How do you build that team? The best candidates for your positions are not necessarily in your city, or even your country. But great engineers, great designers, and great marketers will be great no matter where they are. It might be time for you to rethink your hiring strategy and cast a wider net.

Like any business decision, hiring calls for some cost-benefit analysis. It seems obvious that bringing in people from abroad would cost more than hiring locally. So why do so many successful companies hire internationally?

Surely then, there must be benefits that outweigh the costs and drive management teams to hire beyond borders. Let’s look into that.

The benefits of hiring internationally

Before we dive into the numbers, check out our post “4 Ways an International Talent Can Boost Your Business” to understand how international hiring helps your business in a more general way.

Once you have an idea of those unmeasurable — but very real — benefits of international hiring, let’s talk about the things you can measure: the market and the money.

1. You’ll increase your potential market size

from 2014 to 2015

For an internet business, the English-speaking world is the No.1 market not to miss. This probably doesn’t need much further explanation: There are approximately 872.9 million English-speaking internet users around the world.

But guess how many internet users out there speak languages No.2–9? 1.7 billion. That’s twice the size of the English market. Not to mention the 734 million users speaking all other languages. (ref: Top 10 Languages of Internet World Users in 2015)

According to App Annie, China and Japan grew faster than the US in terms of iTunes App Store revenue in 2015. While the US grew 20%, China and Japan grew 100% and 30% respectively. In 2015 there were roughly 50% more downloads from Google Play in Vietnam and Indonesia than the previous year. Non-English speaking markets are growing fast.

A monocultural team is going to miss out on great opportunities without even realizing it. There’s a huge number of users you’re not reaching because you don’t speak their languages. Once you bring in people with the right language skills and knowhow, your foot is in the door.

2. You can expand your team without compromising on quality

Source: 2015 Talent Shortage Survey

It’s unlikely you can keep improving overall team quality by always hiring locally. Every country is good at something, but not at everything. According to Top Universities, 10 countries are represented on the list of the top 40 universities in computer science, 14 countries in art and design.

Depending on your location and market conditions, brilliant talent may be in short supply. The people you want are either simply not there, or demand for them is so high that they get snagged as soon as they hit the job market. You could be facing a very long search if you insist on finding your ideal fit just around the corner.

WSJ found that with more investments made into the Indian startup scene, companies there are facing a talent shortage. The number of startups grew by about 300% from 2010 to 2015, and the workforce simply can’t keep up with that kind of growth.

Meanwhile, some countries — such as Russia and Ukraine — have a large number of freelancers in the internet industry. This global talent mismatch can be solved by moving the talent around. Instead of compromising on quality, broaden your search and move some of that great talent your way.

The costs of hiring internationally

It goes without saying that whether you’re hiring locally or globally, you’ll be spending resources on interviews and salaries. The only real extra costs of international hiring are your new hire’s travel costs, getting them settled, and any visas/permits they’ll need. These are one-time expenses, tiny compared to the benefits of global expansion.

Granted, your first time dealing with a work permit application might be tedious. But once you have your first application out of the way, the flow will be smooth for your second, third, fourth…

More to the point: As daunting as the paperwork seems, the world is showing signs of becoming more friendly towards cross-border hiring. With initiatives like the Italia Startup Visa springing up, bureaucratic hiring nightmares could soon be a thing of the past.

What you can achieve with a bit of global thinking, alongside your brilliant international team, is limited only by your ambition.

Worried about the red tape? Jobbatical is building a service to help businesses deal with visas and work permits for international hires. Tell us where you’re based, and we’ll let you know when we’re going to start supporting your country.

Originally published at jobbatical.com on April 22, 2016.

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