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What to consider before hiring from abroad

Hiring employees from other countries can provide businesses with the opportunity to find motivated and skilled workers, especially in the case of national work force shortages in specific industry sectors. It can also contribute to increasing corporate innovation and competitiveness. However, finding workers from another country can be a daunting task if you have not [...]

Hiring employees from other countries can provide businesses with the opportunity to find motivated and skilled workers, especially in the case of national work force shortages in specific industry sectors. It can also contribute to increasing corporate innovation and competitiveness.

However, finding workers from another country can be a daunting task if you have not done it before. How do you get started? What should you consider? Employment Office asked these questions to long-term client Bruce Stronge, co-founder of NetEngine, a business at the forefront of web application technologies, who has hired from abroad on multiple occasions.

Things to Consider

• Outline the objectives, benefits, risks and costs of recruiting abroad. Work out your deadlines as it may take longer to find international candidates.

Stronge turned to recruiting overseas due to a lack of technically suited applicants in Australia. After placing several recruitment advertisements in the Australian market, he found that he was not able to find to fill the roles locally. As such, due to skill shortages, Stronge turned to the global market.

• How do you begin the process of hiring overseas? What research needs to be conducted?

Firstly, you need to know which overseas job boards will target your potential candidates most effectively. NetEngine enlisted the help of Employment Office to advertise their roles to overseas candidates.

Secondly, as an employer you will need to research what you need to qualify as sponsors to overseas candidates. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website is a great place to begin this research. Through research, Stronge found out that because many of his overseas candidates were under 31 and from Europe, they were able to qualify for the one year working holiday first. “This was a great way to assess them before sponsoring,” he says.

In relation to the actual process, Stronge comments, “The visa application process was daunting at first, with lots of paper work.” However, he also concedes that “It took much quicker than I thought to get approved.”

• What are the specific skills, competencies and qualifications needed to perform the job role? Will these translate across to Australian qualifications?

Does a trade qualification from another country warrant the same skills set as the same qualification from Australia? This is an important thing to consider when hiring from overseas – you need to know that the skills learned in the hiring country are transferable to an Australian market.

Stronge was lucky in this regard, as software development is an international language. As such he was able to get remote people to work remotely for a few weeks/months first before offering them sponsorship. “We built project management software for managing remote workers, to get full visibility into everyone’s productivity,” says Stronge. He further clarifies by noting that, “Being a cloud based team, client location is not important and everything was still under one roof.”

Another way to assess candidates, other than conducting remote trials, is through the use of Skype interviews.

Assess how much support is available to your new employee. Consider the practical steps a new employee from abroad will have to take to find accommodation or housing. Is it available locally? How is it found and how much does it cost?  Can you provide advice or support to the new employee?

This is quite an important factor when hiring from overseas. Once you’ve found a suitable candidate, what process are you going to undertake to get them to Australia and settle them in?

NetEngine offered their overseas recruits assistance in applying for medical insurance, along with advice on accommodation options and locations.

Think about the level of language competency required by your candidates.

As programming is international, Stronge comments that, “Language competency is not of the highest important, unless the candidate will be playing a higher level project, team or client management role.” However, Stronge continues, “With one candidate who has recently arrived, we will be sending him for English language lessons as his level could be improved.”

The Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is the federal authority on immigration and can provide information on:

  • visas, including the various types and application processes;
  • citizenship;
  • employer obligations for hiring overseas workers; and
  • support services for people coming to Australia.

 

For more information, please visit http://www.immi.gov.au/employers/