Recruiters Hire Locally for Global Work

By Catherine Skrzypinski November 20, 2020
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​The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the talent acquisition landscape worldwide. Recruiters are now looking for local candidates in a globally connected world, practitioners said at the recent 2020 Talent42 Digital conference, which helps recruiters hire top technical talent.

"It's an incredible time right now in talent acquisition," said Noelle Hunt Bennett, senior leader of global sourcing plans at Uber in Seattle.

In central and eastern European countries such as Poland and Hungary, there is an emphasis on cultivating local talent, noted Balazs Paroczay, global sourcing strategist at theBalazs.com in Budapest, Hungary.

Meanwhile, the rapid growth of coding boot camps has paved the way for more skilled tech workers to enter the workforce. "The Hungarian government is looking for ways to support these educational systems," Paroczay said.

For years, South Africa has seen a skills shortage, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought local talent back into the marketplace, said Vanessa Raath, global talent sourcing trainer at the Talent Hunter in Johannesburg. "Top-tier talent who stayed in South Africa is now being scooped up by international big brands" and working remotely, she said.

The biggest shift in Australia and Southeast Asia is that, currently, talent is not allowed in and out of those countries because of the pandemic, talent acquisition leaders noted.

"Australian and New Zealand recruiters have been ahead of the game [in global recruiting] because they have had to attract talent from around the world," said Chris Long, head of global talent solutions at digital recruitment agency Preacta in Sydney. "Now recruiters are picking talent [from] inside Australia."

John Hall is head of talent acquisition at Grab, a Singapore-based technology company offering ride-hailing transport services, food delivery and payment solutions. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall said, Grab had been successfully bringing in talent from abroad. Now there is a shift to hire more Singaporean nationals.

Challenges of Remote Work

After eight months of working remotely, global talent acquisition leaders are still weighing the pros and cons of working from a home office. 

"Work is done effectively these days, no matter the location," noted Marcus Thorpe, global head of talent acquisition at ThoughtWorks in Manchester, England. "We're seeing more clients interested in offshore work, which is great from a business perspective."

Thorpe noted that taxation could become an issue for employers. He emphasized that ThoughtWorks has a duty-of-care policy in place.

Raath said, "South Africa has a wonderful lifestyle—it's a great place to live. Now many people can stay here in paradise and work from home in their pajamas. [The pandemic] is making a small pool of tech talent in South Africa even smaller."

Hall, however, said he doesn't think working remotely is all that it's cracked up to be. "It's hard to find a quiet space to work."

He leads global teams in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines, though he's currently based in Seattle. He said he has shifted to working during Singapore's business hours to stay in contact. "In Southeast Asia, some of the developing countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia don't have a Wi-Fi connection and the technology to work remotely," he added.

Diversifying the Tech Talent Pool

Global talent acquisition leaders said they are focused on bringing more women into the tech world. "COVID has opened up an opportunity for women to bring fresh ideas to the table," Uber's Bennett said.

Correcting the gender imbalance in tech is also important in Singapore and Australia, the experts pointed out. Preacta's Long cited a survey that found that while there are 20,000 tech engineers currently in Australia, only 5 percent of them are women.

In Europe, more companies are adding women to the talent pipeline, Thorpe said. "But now employers are looking for talent beyond gender—we're considering the candidate's race, ethnicity, class and educational background. For instance, we're looking for career changers, in addition to those with formal computer science training."

Bennett noted that diversity encompasses more than gender and race, and recruiters must also consider a candidate's ability, accessibility and access to education.

Catherine Skrzypinski is a freelance writer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

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