What Do You Mean You’re “Not Hiring From Abroad”?

Why limiting yourself to hiring locally is the most bizarre business decision you can make in 2020.

What a strange thing to hear from employers in 2020: “We don’t hire from abroad”. It’s like a restaurant saying they don’t deliver: Sure… I guess technically you might not be obligated to. But wh.. why wouldn’t you?

Here’s a list of some popular objections to cross-border hiring—and the reasons why they no longer make sense in today’s job market and increasingly mobile world.

“We can find talent locally”

Can you though? Can you really?

Well, if you’re truly hitting jackpot after jackpot and nailing all your hires locally, good for you. But there’s a difference between being able to hire locally… and being able to find the best talent locally.

It seems so staggeringly unlikely that out of—literally—an entire world of talent, the best person for the job would be within a few postcodes of your office. Statistically speaking, it just doesn’t add up.

Are you really making the best hires you can? Or do you just not know what’s out there?

That’s not to throw shade at your local talent pool. There’s no reason to assume it’s bad. But with the current global talent crunch squeezing the life out of businesses and economies everywhere? It’s probably, quite simply, not big enough for you to find the specific skillsets you need. Limiting your hiring to your own neck of the woods will deprive you of the kind of diverse talent that makes businesses thrive.

One Finnish startup founder who hired a developer from Argentina after lots of soul-searching and stakeholder pushback once told us: “We were able to speed up our software development, which has dramatically changed the product in all the best ways possible.”

That’s not just a sweet sentiment either. Diverse teams make more money. They make better decisions. And they’re more innovative and better at problem-solving. Of all the things you want for your business, those things surely rank pretty high?

Don’t miss out; diversify your hiring.

“It’s too expensive”

Alright, fine. Maybe you’d be open to hiring from other countries, if only it weren’t so damn expensive!

And yes, it costs a pretty penny to hire internationally. Hiring is already a black hole of time and money. With international hiring, you’re adding:

  • Relocation costs that include immigration fees, accommodation, settle-in services, etc.
  • Added delays to the hiring cycle: international background checks, potentially longer notice periods, relocation planning time, etc.

So we might be inclined to concede this point if we were feeling lazy about it. Except not hiring internationally could be costing you a good chunk of money too.

Remember just a few paragraphs ago when we said that diverse teams make more money? For many years running, McKinsey has observed a “positive, statistically significant correlation between executive team diversity and financial performance”. And that added problem-solving prowess? All very real benefits that you stand to gain if you look past the initial cost.

“It’s too risky”

Frankly, we could almost concede this point too and just call it a day.

Almost.

An international hire gone wrong can definitely leave a mark on your wallet and your team’s morale. You’ve invested a lot in this. If it doesn’t work out, you stand to lose more time and money than you would with a local hire going awry.

And there are things that can go wrong. Research has shown that as many as 33 percent of new hires could quit within their first 90 days. Add to that the stresses of relocation, and you’ll see how an international hire is a volatile situation for sure. Your concern is, in a word, valid.

But the great thing about this risk is that it can be mitigated. And if you do a good job of that, the payoff is well worth it. So:

You can never guarantee that a new expat hire will stay with you for long enough to be worth the investment. But by building a foolproof employee experience, you can make it way, way more likely that they will.

“It’s too time-consuming and complicated”

Perhaps in olden days (alright, a couple of years ago or so), hiring foreigners was the kind of logistical nightmare that might justifiably have put you off the whole idea for good.

But in 2020, it only gets that complicated if you let it, and global recruiting only needs to take insane amounts of time if you’re disorganized about it.

There are so many tools and services you can use to make your international hiring smarter, faster, and more painless.

Your imagination is the limit: Use Toggl Hire to screen candidates. Use Textio for augmented writing to attract the people you want to hire. Use Jobbatical to relocate your international hires with zero hassle! If you use a relocation service like Jobbatical, you’ll probably never have to set foot in any establishment that deals with things like visas or work permits. From where you’re standing, that literally makes hiring internationally as easy as hiring locally.

There’s always an app for that; always “one weird trick” for any stage of your recruiting life cycle. Honestly, hiring from abroad has never been easier.

“It’s too difficult culturally”

If you’re anything like us, you might be thinking, “Do people actually say this sort of thing anymore?” Perhaps not publicly. But behind closed doors, there have always been whispers of employees from this or that cultural background clashing with the rest of the team: It’s just too difficult to manage the differences! It’s not worth it!

Which is, of course, pure, unadulterated nonsense.

Oh, cultural differences are absolutely a thing. They shouldn’t be ignored, nor should they be taken lightly. What you want to do with them is to harness them. It takes work, but like everything else on this list, it’s so worth it. Because that’s when you unleash the full firepower of all those diversity-related benefits we’ve been going on about.

When you’re managing a multicultural team, you’re handling lots of puzzle pieces that might not look like they go together at all. But put in the time and effort, and the end result will be magical.

“We’re not ready to switch to English as a working language”

Did we leave the toughest one for last? Quite possibly!

So let’s finish strong.

If you only speak one language—that’s not English—at your company, hiring non-speakers of that language will complicate things. And that is daunting, to say the least. But consider this:

Companies are switching to English all over the world. From France to Japan to Germany, English is becoming the one true language of business. If Volkswagen can do it, you can do it.

Alright, so you’re not Volkswagen. Maybe you have a small to medium-sized team of locals only and having to switch languages to accommodate new hires would be painful.

So consider this, too:

  • You can start small. You don’t need to have your entire company switch to English right away. It might just be the new hire’s immediate team members at first. From there, you can gradually make changes to internal processes and communication.
  • Anything’s possible with employee buy-in. If your team is invested in the success of your business and if you make everyone feel included and excited, the change will come across as a positive.
  • Switching to English will improve your international outlook. If you have any global ambitions at all, being used to English will make things much easier for you down the line and significantly broaden your growth opportunities.

Some of the best talent today is roaming the earth looking for the best, most meaningful career opportunities. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to tip your toes into that global talent pool if you want your business to thrive.

And much like a dip in an actual pool after a long workout, it’ll do you a world of good. A shock to your system? Maybe at first. Complicated? Not really. Worth it? One hundred percent.

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