Published by: Lauren Welsh
Why hire ex-pats
1. Skills gap
- Depending on where you are in the world, you are unlikely to be able to find all of the technical resources you need locally. This is the case whether you are in the USA or a small island country - tapping into the ex-pat / foreign workers market will help you fill that skills gap that will undoubtedly cause delays on the project.
- If you are in a small or developing country, there is a good chance you will need to staff your project completely out of ex-pat / foreign workers.
2. Better experience and candidate selection
- If you are working on the rollout of a network or a new technology or process, the best people to hire will be people who have worked on similar roll-outs, depending on the nature of the project and where the project is based, it may be that you want to take on people from another part of the world that have already successfully completed a similar program of work.
- You also get better candidate selection - if you look for locals, you may find you only have one average choice, whereas if you open it up to the whole world, you should find you have a superior selection of candidates, and may find you are able to hire someone with better experience then initially expected.
3. Potentially cheaper resources
- This does not always work out this way, the reality is people will want more money if they are working abroad - however, if you are in say Europe or North America, you may be able to drive costs down by hiring people from parts of the world with lower cost of living and salary expectations. The flip-side to this is, you may pay a premium for people as they will have expenses both at home and in the new location.
Hiring ex-pats - Things to consider
1. What will you include in your package
- It can be tempting to offer all-inclusive packages as this is easy and transparent, but where possible, I recommend accommodation as part of the package. In my experience most people will underestimate and rush their living costs when moving abroad. Whilst it is the new hire and their agents responsibility to ensure they understand living costs, it is difficult to calculate until you arrive in the country.
- I recommend including as much in the overall package as possible, you will get far fewer people wanting salary increases or leaving prematurely.
- If you are unable to provide accommodation, make sure the all-inclusive rate is enough to cover the standard market rate as well as covering accommodation and transportation costs. For example, someone committing to just six months of accommodation at a time will pay a premium, just because you have a two year lease on an apartment at $1500 per month, does not mean this is the going rate on accommodation for people only able to commit to three or six month contracts
2. Visas - Who can you work with - this is very important, there are so many factors that determine which nationalities you can hire as ex-pats, including:
- Do they need to travel via any specific regions to get to your market, for example, most flights into the Caribbean come from Europe or USA; therefore you need people who can easily travel via those countries. So it is essential to research the availability of transit visas etc. Transit visas for the UK, Canada and USA are regularly rejected and can take several weeks.
- Do they need a work permit or a business visa - this can be a very lengthy process - make sure you or your suppliers have the ability to obtain work permits or visas in the relevant country. It is not as easy as you think; lots of time and research will go into this as there will be countries that have steep bureaucratic obstacles.
- Ensure you factor in any tax costs when setting budgets, if a typical expat requires $10K per month net, be aware this may come with $3K of taxes and also management charges - this should be considered when putting together budgets.
- If you are hiring expats – although it may just be routine for you, for them it is often a considerable upheaval, which can be very daunting.
- Before they arrive or when they arrive, give them information that could be useful not just for work but also for living in the area, e.g. help them to get phones, supply them with any reliable contacts for transport or accommodation, tell them where to go for a beer or a bite to eat - this small consideration can make a huge difference.
- From my own experiences of working abroad, it is very unsettling to arrive in a new place and not know anyone or have any idea on what to expect, and even more unsettling if you arrive and have misjudged the accommodation.
- Conduct interviews thoroughly as it is comparatively harder to let people go for poor performance after a week if they have travelled from Pakistan to El Salvador rather than hired locally.
- If hiring contractors you must conduct interviews swiftly because good candidates will be snapped up quickly, two days is a long time when hiring skilled contractors. We have lost out on quality candidates for niche roles because the interview request came two weeks after the submittal.
- If hiring long-term staff to work directly for the firm, make sure interviews are thorough and that you pass over plenty of information about the job and the company location in general. Remember, it is a huge commitment to relocate for a long-term position.
5. Have realistic expectations of your requirement
- Taking into account the visa and financial restrictions - make sure your requirements are realistic - and make allowance on the job description where possible to allow for more committed candidates - the narrower the pool of candidates the more likely you are to have an issue with drop-outs as these candidates will be rarer and therefore in higher demand.
- You get what you pay for - if you offer a rate that is slightly below the general candidate expectation, you will either get people who are below-par, or you will get good people who become very unhappy very quickly. Pay the correct rate for the position, and your project will run more smoothly; pay over the odds and expect to get the best resources who will be very committed.
If you work in a technical industry, or you work in a country with particular skills gaps, there is a good chance at some stage you will be looking at hiring foreign workers either on a temporary or even a full-time basis. If you do, make sure you take into account everything possible to give yourself the best chance of hiring someone appropriate. Ensure you have adequately researched: visa restrictions, accommodation costs and general living expenses, and make sure your requirements are realistic given the budget you have set out.
If you are looking to bring on workers from abroad, and want help with this research, contact me via LinkedIn, Tangent have supplied staff in over 180 countries and have a dedicated logistics team to assist with research on visas, transportation, accommodation and travel.