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Hiring International Employees (+Benefits and Best Practices)

May 7, 2019

Thinking about diversifying your workplace?

One of the best ways to do that could be to having a recruiting strategy around hiring international talent. 

Taking that approach is typically not as straightforward as hiring workers who hail from your home country, but it could be well worth the effort. 

Benefits of hiring international employees 

There are many benefits to hiring employees who live outside of the city or state in which your organization is located. Not only do international employees have unique and varied experiences, but they can bring their outside knowledge to your organization, boosting many facets of productivity and advancement.  

1. Access people with specialized skills 

Perhaps you advertise open positions to job seekers in your home country and found the nation's labor force lacking. If so, you could have a worthwhile reason to expand your recruitment efforts globally. For example, although the United States is one of the leaders in artificial intelligence (AI) talent, exciting things are happening elsewhere, too.

Plus, if you're part of an American company, there is a framework in place to facilitate hiring international skilled workers. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed an Act that introduced the H-1B visa to aid the United States in bringing foreign workers to their companies. Some people assert that the visa was instrumental in creating Silicon Valley.

2. Have a competitive edge

Bringing more international workers into your company makes it more diverse, helping you achieve greater competitiveness. Research from McKinsey found that enterprises in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity had a 35% higher likelihood of seeing above-average financial returns in their industries.

The study also looked at gender diversity in the workplace and found it had a similarly positive impact. The findings concluded that increasing diversity at the company level isn't easy, but it pays off.

You could kickstart a diversity initiative at your company in part by hiring international workers. It's impossible to say for sure whether you'll see the same kind of financial gains noted in the study, but that investigation included several countries and more than 350 public companies within them, highlighting the thoroughness of the methods.

3. Increase problem-solving prowess 

Hiring international workers could also give teams within your company more problem-solving capabilities. That's because many problem-solving approaches get applied based on a person's life experiences. Plus, people view things differently based on their background. Both of those things can make it easier for your company to uncover solutions and successfully apply them to overcome obstacles.

For example, a person who hails from a developing nation would likely have drastically different experiences than someone from a well-developed country. The things the international hire has gone through may equip them to bring new ideas to the table and encourage their colleagues to think outside of what they know.

4. Stay productive around the clock 

If you're not ready to add international employees to your in-house team, another possibility is to hire remote workers. That option means you won't have to work out the logistics of helping people relocate from other places but can still benefit from their talent.

Plus, consider the potential benefits of a virtual team in different time zones than your company's location. If their time zones are several hours ahead of yours, the workers can get started on their days when most of your employees are still asleep. Then, you could find it's easier to keep clients satisfied when they need quick turnarounds on urgent projects. 

TIP: Read about how to manage a distributed team to understand how to handle all of the moving parts with your international team members!

Relying on remote workers is becoming more common. An International Workplace Group study polled 18,000 workers from nearly 100 countries to get their thoughts about remote work opportunities. The results showed that 80% of respondents said that allowing workers to get things done remotely allowed them to recruit and keep top talent. That's an increase of 16% over the 2016 study. 

5. Move into new markets

Your decision to extend job offers to international workers could enable your company to break into new markets in other countries or roll out your product or service to non-English speaking nations. However, if you don't make the transition carefully, people could quickly get fed up and decide that you weren't ready to serve other markets.

Having people who are part of your team and from those other countries can help you become acquainted with cultural differences, slang, etiquette, and other cultural aspects that you need to know to avoid alienating customers from other places. Additionally, international workers can help you overcome language barriers.

Get 18+ diversity and inclusion insights, FREE.    Explore →

Best practices for hiring international employees

Now that you know some of the reasons why so many companies get serious about hiring international talent, let's look at six tips to keep in mind when searching for workers from other countries. 

1. Get help with the work visa process 

Your country has specific immigration laws that determine which documents or visas an international worker must have to get permission to work in the country. In addition to securing those things for them, you may also need to perform a labor market test that proves you had to hire this person from elsewhere due to not finding a suitable domestic worker for the role.

Workers who take employment offers in the United States must hold a permanent or temporary work visa. Immigration websites can be notoriously difficult for people without legal backgrounds to understand. That's why it's a good idea to hire a legal expert who's familiar with the process of legally bringing in workers from other countries.

Then, you can reduce the chances of making mistakes that could cause the person to get turned away by immigration officials upon arrival or other issues. Additionally, your company could undergo scrutiny for mistakenly not going through the proper channels to get a international employee permission to work. Having a legal professional's services at your disposal cuts down on potential hassles. 

2. Don't hire in a hurry 

Given the time it takes to find a person who's right for the job and assisting that individual in moving over to the country and getting settled into the role, make sure you plan more than enough so that you and the new hire won't feel rushed. When you add in the time necessary for getting the person's work visa, the entire process could take months.

That's not to discourage you from looking outside your country when recruiting employees, but it is a reminder that the timeline for hiring talent internationally will likely be substantially longer than what you're used to when only dealing with domestic workers.

However, the longer timeframe could work to your advantage by forcing your company to take a detailed look at why it needs and wants to hire international talent. The more specifics you can offer, the more likely it is you'll entice an international worker to join your company. No potential employee wants to feel like you're offering the job too hastily without ironing out how and why the person will become a valuable part of your team. 

3. Don't overlook onboarding

There are many things to take care of regarding recruiting and hiring an international worker. But you have to make sure you’re not ignoring the onboarding process. An onboarding program exposes an employee to role expectations and company protocols, plus gives them access to the tools they need to work without unnecessary obstacles.

Also, research shows that paying attention to onboarding could improve employee attention. More specifically, a poll found that an excellent onboarding process makes 70% of employees more likely to stay with companies for at least three years. Effective onboarding provides new employees – international or not – with the resources they need to contribute more quickly to the company than they likely could without having those things. 

TIP: Check out this guide on how to reduce employee turnover from your company!

A dedicated onboarding checklist also gives international workers space and time to bring up questions or concerns that arise about their new roles. It helps them learn about the company culture as well. It's inevitably overwhelming for a person to move from one country to another for work, no matter how much they look forward to the opportunity, which means devoting an adequate amount of time to onboarding helps a new hire get settled and offers existing team members chances to interact with and make them feel welcome. If you move too quickly through the onboarding portion or don't have one at all, all the time you spent to find international workers may go to waste if they don't stick around. 

4. Pick the right software for video and phone interviews 

As most domestic workers move through the hiring process, they typically prepare for in-person interviews as they get further along. However, the geographical distance between your company and an international candidate may make such meetings impossible or extremely difficult.

Figure out the best ways for your company to carry out interviews, then mention those methods in the job ads you post. Think about video conferencing software tools that are readily available to both your company and the applicants, such as Skype for video interviews. You may also feel that it's adequate to interview over the phone. That option could be more reliable if you're worried about a potential lack of stable internet access in the person's home country. 

See the Easiest-to-Use Video Conferencing Software →

Concerning more technical solutions, remember that they can fail without warning. It's ideal to have a trial run of the video interviewing tools before using them with your international applications. Even after that, bear in mind that the person at your company who's doing the interview needs to have a "go with the flow" mindset and remember that technology can fall short at inconvenient times and that they should strive not to get frustrated.

When setting a time for interviews, be aware of applicants' home time zones and accommodate them whenever possible. Moreover, list the technical requirements for the chosen software used for the interview so that they can get everything set up without dealing with unpleasant surprises. 

Find the best Video Interviewing Software. Explore Now, Free →

5. Create attractive relocation packages 

People assess company benefits when deciding whether to accept job offers. Considering that your international workers come from other companies to join your workforce, it's essential that you provide them with appealing relocation packages.

What a relocation package contains usually depends on the seniority of the position. For example, the package given to an IT executive with three decades of experience who's receiving a six-figure salary should be much more extensive than one given to a new graduate without years of experience. Some of the things you may offer include assistance with finding housing as well as transporting cars and belongings. You may even have a short-term place set up for a person to reside in once they arrive.

Appealing relocation packages could help international workers ultimately decide that your company is the one that will make them leave behind what's familiar and start living in another country. 

6. Have your current employees help in the recruitment process

Don't underestimate how helpful existing members of your workforce could be in helping you find international workers. It's especially likely you'll get results if you already have numerous workers from other countries and believe they have well-qualified friends and acquaintances who may be looking for work. The primary benefit of asking your current workers for leads is that those people will have a good idea of whether the individuals they know fit with the company's values.

You could also apply this tip when hiring remote workers. For example, make an employee referral program where the referring person gets a bonus once you successfully hire the remote worker they brought to you.

Another perk of using your internal resources for hiring leads is that those team members can help the new workers feel more at home, especially if they are already friends. It's always comforting for a person to arrive in a new place and be around at least one individual they know.

Now you know some of the advantages of hiring people from other countries, plus how to go about doing it, you're well-equipped to broaden your hiring scope and see what international candidates can bring to the table!

Ready to learn more about hiring the right talent? See what recruiters say the best job search sites are for helping them hire the best talent in 2019. 

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