Challenges you will face when recruiting international talent

16 July 2021 Aileen Zainuddin

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Congratulations, you are thinking about hiring internationally!


A vital part of the hiring process is international recruitment/talent acquisition for countless HRs across the globe. The diversification of an employee roster will provide a wide range of business-boosting benefits.


By hiring international talent, you acquire specialist skills that are either unavailable or in short supply to you on a national scale. This will facilitate the development of overseas work assignments or trade, therefore, enriching workplace culture and encouraging new platforms for thinking, and simply find the best high-quality talent available.

However, international recruitment is not as simple as it may seem. Almost 50% of global HRs who are involved in international talent acquisition claim they struggle to onboard high-quality candidates.


“In a time of global challenges, the world requires internationally educated, inspired leaders and employees, who can build bridges across the divides that separate us and who are globally-minded, while sensitive enough to know when it is appropriate to act locally.”


Due to this reason and the results of the findings it is vital companies invest in employees and managers to make sure they are equipped with the skills to have the ability to operate globally.  


Here are seven main challenges you need to be aware of when recruiting internationally:


1 Finding the right talent who is willing to relocate:

 One of the biggest challenges while sourcing international candidates is identifying whether a candidate including their spouse and children are ready to relocate. This is a life-changing decision, in which all relevant parties such as family members will be involved.  

 2 Understand the visa requirement and timeline involved:

Work visa requirements for employers and employees differ per country and depend on the type of role. They also involve various costs.

One of the greatest challenges in recruiting internationally is the general timeline. It can take months to a year for a candidate to receive a work visa. In this time, the employer not only needs to keep a position open but is also losing revenue while waiting. A lot can happen at this time, so it is important to keep everyone current and engaged while we wait for the immigration department to process the documents.

 3 Understanding foreign employee’s needs & offering support:

Talk to a candidate about the documents they will need to provide, as well as about the relevant employment policies, regulations, tax, cost of living, schooling, and housing options they should be familiar with. Candidates often have prejudice when it comes to questions such as the cost of living and high taxes. Building transparent and honest relationships with an employee from day one is immensely important.

 4 Understand local ethical and legal regulations:

When hiring overseas employees, familiarize yourself with the international employment regulations. For example, an at-will employment relationship in U.S. law means that both an employer and an employee can immediately terminate the employment relationship without any previous warnings.

In some foreign countries, such regulations do not exist. So, before you even send an employment contract to a future employee, check whether their country demands just cause to terminate employment relationships and what the criteria for the termination are.

The same goes for Paid Time Off (PTO). In the U.S., these regulations do not differentiate personal days, sick days, or vacation days. On the other hand, in some foreign countries, legal entitlements for these types of employee accommodations are separated.

Precisely because of that, you should always consult a local accountant, legal advisor, and HR specialist that will help you understand local regulations and implement them effortlessly into your hiring strategy.

 5 Settling In:

Settling into the work and home environment is important. An unsettled employee is not your most productive employee. If unsettlement is not dealt with, it can lead to repatriation. Offer recruits a support structure for home and works life. Ease them into work processes while keeping pressure off. At home, help them set up the basics like schools, insurances, cars, utilities, and the like to make them feel like residents, not visitors. Provide an orientation so they are familiar with the local area.

 6 Culture Shock:

Defined as a distressing reaction to sudden cultural change. Culture shock can have a severely damaging impact on a person’s ability to cope with life abroad. Most will overcome culture shock in their own time, but some might simply become overwhelmed and unable to continue in their position. To minimise culture shock, offer educational materials on language, culture, and going about day-to-day tasks like shopping. Encourage recruits to visit the country ahead of their move and provide support after relocation.

 7 Overcoming communication barriers:

According to the CEMS survey mentioned above, 16% of HRs defined language and communication barriers as one major challenge when recruiting global talent. Precisely because of that, communication skills should be one of your determining factors when deciding whether to hire an international employee or not.

Helping your international employees overcome their language barriers should be your main priority. For starters, invest in resources and language classes to master their language skills and meet the requirements for their job position.


The sheer complexity of hiring, onboarding, and compliantly employing people in foreign markets can slow or even stop an executive search placement. Every country has its challenges, and partnering with people, firms that can reduce the complexity can be immensely beneficial.


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