International recruiting is no longer exotic. For multinational corporations and companies that operate worldwide, it is crucial for everyday operations. Even for smaller companies it has become increasingly important. There is little literature concerning international recruiting strategies that looks beyond expatriates. We will have a closer look at “international recruiting” with a three-part series. This first article looks at strategic issues in international recruiting.
How are management positions recruited internationally?
There are three different approaches to international recruiting. Before making a decision on which one to use, the company should carefully consider the different aspects. This could include processes and legal issues in the country of interest, or firm-specific factors like their general international strategy, or economic dependence on the country in consideration. None of the approaches are superior to the others; each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Often different approaches can be integrated in a company at the same time, depending on the positions that are being recruited.
- The ethnocentric approach is when all the management roles are filled with people from the organization’s home country, called expatriates. This approach is suitable for organizations where the need for control and internal cooperation is predominant. A good example is organizations that have recently started operating internationally. One advantage of this approach is how easily the organization has control over the processes in the host country. A disadvantage is the lack of flexibility.
- A second is the polycentric approach, Managers are recruited from the host country. They report to managers who work at the company’s headquarters in the home country. This approach works well when the organization’s host country has a large effect on their daily operations. An advantage with this method is the intimate knowledge of the host country’s market. Another would be the commitment and motivation of the host country’s managers. Though the local focus and the possibility of losing the bigger picture are disadvantages.
- The third approach to international recruiting is the geocentric approach in which the best people are selected to fill the management position regardless of their nationality. For this approach, national differences will be “wiped out” and the focus will be company-specific qualifications. This form of international recruiting is most suitable for companies that already have international experience and structure.
These strategies may seem like they are only for large, global organizations. But that’s inaccurate. Every company that has at least one overseas company should consider this question: Should we send our managers or recruit locally for people to establish our new overseas team?
What recruiting methods and tools are used in international recruiting?
Whenever a company decides to recruit employees in the host country, even when the recruiting is done completely by the overseas company, they should carefully consider which tools to use. The anticipated and accepted forms of applying can vary between countries. This is something to keep in mind when making these decisions.
In their analysis, researchers Roe and van den Berg came to the conclusion that: countries that are geographically and culturally similar, use similar selection tools. But what exactly does this mean? In the northern parts of Europe, recruiters rely heavily on biodata and less on costly formats such as assessment centres. The latter are more popular in England and the Netherlands.
Germany is somewhere in between, many recruiters still rely on biodata, though the trend is to move away from reducing an applicant to their CV The fear of losing talented individuals early in the application process just because of grades or time spent finishing their degree is prevalent Some of the major German companies, like die Deutsche Telekom AG recently showed that they were only able to find 20% of their new hires because they qualitatively enlarged their pre-selection process.
In southern European countries recruiters often rely on psychometric tests and less on CVs and references. As for E-Recruiting, Germany’s recruiters, in comparison with their European colleagues, show the most positive reactions towards online testing. Germany is grouped together with Norway, Austria, England and Belgium in this regard.
How is international recruitment?
In their 2003 review, Roe and van den Berg aptly stated that:Recruiting in Europe is conservative . New topics and developments are integrated very slowly. Too slow. The past 10 years has seen more change in professional life than the past 100 years. Nevertheless, recruiting still stagnates at an early stage and must learn to adapt quickly. No matter which strategy is used to expand internationally: processes and methods need to be innovative! . Currently the American market is the pioneer, because they like innovation and are willing to experiment.
Landy, FJ & Conte, FM (2013). Work in the 21st Century: An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology. 4th Edition. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Roe, R. & van der Berg, P. (2003). Selection in Europe: Context, Developments and Research Agenda. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 12(3).
In the next issue in the “International Recruiting” series will give you further insights into this area from our expertise.