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How To Overcome Invisible Barriers


..or how to cope with recruiting in an international market place

Like all other things in our economy, recruitment is not a process that is limited to one country, or a certain group of countries any more. It is as international as the rest of the business world.

As recruiting someone is a complex and often difficult process, the international context in many cases makes this process even more complicated.

Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when recruiting internationally:

1. Language

Language is obviously the key to every country, culture and mentality. However, it is very likely that you will not speak the native language of the candidate you are trying to convince that this position is right for him or her. As English is more or less a world wide means of communication in the business world today, passing on the information is not the biggest challenge, it is the way you do it. Some cultures tend to use a lot of polite phrases, others do not at all; some will give you a lengthy introduction on the phone, others will ask for the salary straight away. It is hard to balance on this fine line of not trying to make a cultural mistake and still proceeding in an effective and successful way, but it helps to inform yourself about country and cultures beforehand to avoid mistakes that might keep you from successfully finding someone.

2. Customs

German candidates have a habit to get straight to the point and then do the small talk after the most important points are covered whereas Americans do it the other way around. Southern American candidates tend to share a lot of personal information as well as telling stories about their personal life whereas Scandinavian people do not waste too many words when they speak to you. In many cases, it is impossible to predict how a specific call goes if you do not have any experience recruiting in this country. One of the easiest solutions is to just listen and see how a specific call or conversation goes. There is no general recipe,  just that you should try to adapt to your contact on the other end of the line. The more you listen, the more you learn and the better you are prepared next time.

3. Laws

Whereas the other two points refer more to experience and often intuition, knowing the specific laws regarding headhunting and recruitment of the market you work on is obligatory homework.

Take some time in order to do a thorough research. In Germany, you are allowed to call someone in the office without having a personal connection with them, but the call is not supposed to last more than three minutes. In Austria, you are obliged to tell potential candidates what the proposed salary for a specific position is. Knowing these details does not only help the reputation of your company, it also qualifies you as a professional recruiter. Ignoring them on purpose does the opposite.

4. Tolerance and Respect

This point seems like a “do not even mention it of course this is mandatory” thing to say. However, recruiting internationally is not an easy thing to do. You will stumble over multiple barriers: language, a different concept of time and punctuality, time zones, holidays that you did not know existed. None of those are easy to handle and some will leave you frustrated at times.

However, showing respect to the differences (and apologizing if you made a mistake) is crucial to keeping the process going.

In the end, both you and candidates as well as possible clients are working towards the same goal: to put the best candidate in a great position. However complicated that might sometimes seem, it is a goal worth working towards while learning so much about different cultures and countries along the way.


By Lisa Endriss, Senior Research Associate at ExecutiveSurf

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