A Recruiter’s Guide to Hiring in New Countries.

Understanding the Business Needs.


Valerio Rossi

3 years ago | 4 min read

Global teams are on the rise like never before, according to the State of Remote Work 2019. Here at Elements, we have trebled in size within the past year, which has been thrilling to witness. However, setting up teams in new countries is tricky, especially if you lack local recruiting experience.

When I was hired eight months ago, my main task was to scale our company. Since then, we have grown by 170% and have colleagues in five continents. Expanding globally is not always straight forward and there are a few points to consider when recruiting and onboarding abroad.

Understanding the Business Needs

If you are hiring new people globally, it’s likely you have a strategic business need and, in our case, we wanted to decentralize our operation’s structure. The goal was to be able to cover all time zones and support our clients worldwide with local experts.

Before starting your global recruiting project, you need to understand:

  • The company strategy and why you need to recruit internationally
  • What positions, skills and roles are you looking to recruit
  • Which countries and regions suit your needs
  • The resources and budget for the project

It might seem straight forward to just follow this checklist, however, it’s much more complicated. For us, it has been crucial to work closely together internally to understand each of these areas better. You need to thoroughly research the job market in the new countries while detailing job descriptions and priorities.

Comprehensive planning is vital for success but having the flexibility to adjust your recruiting plan continuously is just as important.

You will gather real-life information about candidates, countries, benefits, salaries, common practices and markets during the process. Therefore, you need to be flexible and use that knowledge to adapt your strategy.

Posting Job Offers on the Right Platforms

As soon as you have your plan it’s time to recruit. Depending on the country you are hiring for, you will need to verify the main job portals candidates use locally to discover new opportunities. Our main platforms are LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor. Moreover, if your Applicants Tracking System (ATS) allows localized multi-posting, your jobs will be posted automatically in local portals as well, such as JobStreet, 51Job and JobsDB in APAC.

We enhance our efforts by headhunting as well as advertising. Proactively reaching out to passive candidates allows us to reach the top 5% of talent.

Interviewing: Your Main Source of Learning

Once you have a good pool of candidates, you start scheduling interviews. Here it’s crucial to schedule interviews efficiently. I find the best approach is to arrange the interview in just one email to avoid countless back and forth.

When scheduling interviews, be sure to remember time zones. That might seem obvious but it’s important to respect the basics. We are based in Barcelona, so we interview APAC candidates in the morning and those from the Americas in the afternoon.

The interview stage is your greatest source of local knowledge, so I recommend gathering as much information as possible about the job market during this phase.

For example, we were interviewing candidates in South Africa and I knew little about the local job market, so I was surprised to learn that:

  • The average salary was higher than previously benchmarked
  • It’s common practice that job offers include a pension plan and health insurance
  • It can be a challenge to find people with an international background
  • Candidates often have longer CVs than US and European candidates. In some cases, CVs reached 15 pages

Gathering salary and benefits data through many interviews allowed us to build a more realistic budget, including the local benefit structure we needed to be competitive and create our team. This recruiting approach has been successful worldwide.

Mind the Cultural Gap

Securing an interview with a candidate based in Shanghai requires more communication than arranging one with someone in Delhi. Why?

When you interview many people, you begin to notice cultural differences. Typically, a Chinese candidate likes more information before initiating a conversation with a recruiter.

At Elements, diversity is one of our core values and being able to enrich our workforce with so many different cultures has been a true advantage for our organization. We now have more than 30 nationalities.

What has worked well for us has been acknowledging that different cultures have different communication practices. Having this mindset removes bias. Gathering real-life experience, candidate by candidate, is a great way to understand local salaries, benefits and cultural practices.

Avoid Out of Sight, Out of Mind

So, after all that hard work, you finally have your overseas team. You’ve made it! But there’s still more to do. Take a minute to put yourself in the new hire’s shoes and soon you’ll realize they are based on the opposite side of the world. It’s already their evening by the time the HQ arrives at work.

This is important to understand for new hires as being able to effectively onboard, engage and retain these new employees is even harder than to recruit them. Making sure they feel part of the company and share its culture and values is a daily challenge for the organization. It doesn’t stop with the onboarding.

We tackle this by organizing an induction training and bringing everybody to the HQ in Barcelona as often as we can. Managers need to dedicate extra time for distant team members and need to be aware that training, online communication and trust are key to successful remote cooperation.

Onboard, Pay and Manage Your Team Overseas

At Elements, we have a big advantage when it comes to onboarding and managing our remote teams, as it is exactly what we are about. Creating an entity in a new country, delivering payroll, managing local taxes and being compliant in a new country can all be very challenging.

However, all of this can easily be managed through an Employer of Record. If you don’t want to go through that painful process yourself, you can learn more about our Employer of Record service here, and focus on what’s important: hiring the right people for your business.

Originally published on medium.


Created by

Valerio Rossi







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