International hiring- tips and traps

As the world grows ever smaller, businesses are becoming more international and we are not just talking large multinationals. Nowadays, small and medium sized organisations are increasingly global in their operations.

The market for executives with EMEA or worldwide expertise has grown and continues to grow. Consequently the degree of difficulty in finding and selecting the right people is also increasing.

Check list of questions to answer before starting the process:

  • What are the best avenues to source suitable executives?
  • Are these candidates the best available or just the best we’ve seen?
  • Are they credible and reference checkable?
  • Do they fit with the organisation’s culture?
  • Are they compatible with the culture, religious and language requirements of the relevant region?
  • What’s the norm for relocation in a given country?
  • What are the relevant tax and employment laws?


  • Use relevant worldwide education and professional institutes to glean knowledge before embarking on the process.
  • Try the advanced search option in LinkedIn for employees or other contacts that have experience in the relevant region.
  • Develop  an candidate engagement and communication strategy appropriate the region


  • Tax regulations
    What are the implications of tax regulation on the bottom line for the company and the net pay of the executive
  • Employment regulations
    Length of time to get a work visa can vary greatly from three weeks to months or even never
    Standard and non standard benefits, holidays, sick leave, non compete agreements.
    Norms around union participation


In a lot of cases hiring an international executive will involve a relocation process. It should be noted that failed international relocation’s can be very costly in terms of both time and money. Relocating for a role can be one of the most stressful experiences of an employee’s life.  Changing jobs, even within the same organisation, can be challenging enough, but couple this with moving to a new country, familiarising yourself with a new culture and potentially uprooting your family and the experience can be overwhelming. Research suggests that while questions around mortgage and cost of living are clearly important, an issue which should never be overlooked is lifestyle. You need to consider what type of climate and setting the people involved favour as a city mouse always remains a city mouse and vice versa. Find out about the current commute and how that affects work-life balance. This will give you an insight into the candidate’s priorities. It is important to remember as well that in most cases you are relocating an entire family, not just an individual.

The issue of relocation allowance will arise and it is worth contacting an executive search firm with an international network to ascertain what constitutes an adequate relocation allowance. It is worth considering providing an allowance to offset the costs of foreign relocation. Find out what the employee’s real needs are and be willing to negotiate around them. They may not always be financial although common financial considerations include moving costs, temporary housing costs, assistance selling or buying a home and airfare, mileage and transportation costs.

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