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Global Recruitment: A Primer from a Recruiter

by
Shailendra Jaisingha
Sep 19, 2008, 5:42 am ET

Things are starting to slow down for hiring departments across the country for reasons related to the slower economy, arrival of the holiday season, and ending of the year. While things are cooling off across the country, a different breed of recruiters are gearing up to embark on a journey outside the boundaries of this country. While many of them are still working to fill position within the U.S., there are some who are proactively warming up for a long haul to fill the positions far in the future.

I am pointing toward the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Bureau; erstwhile INS) H-1B quota for the year 2009 that will open its doors to applicants from around the world in April 2009. Every year, USCIS allows and issues 85,000 H-1B visas, out of which only 65,000 visas go to candidates with specialty skills across the world. The rest of the 20,000 visas are available for foreign candidates with higher degrees from schools in the United States, which is generally a master’s degree or higher. Most of the 65,000 H1-B visas go to hi-tech workers across the world whose technical skills in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are in high demand in the U.S. and Europe.

And so for companies and businesses dealing in the hi-tech industry, an opportunity to recruit professionals from this pool of qualified candidates is strategically important for growth, sustainment, and development of new products and services.

Although principles of recruiting remain the same, it takes a very different approach to recruit candidates from outside the country. Below are some of the pointers that recruiters must keep in mind to successfully recruit these professionals from outside the country. These points are a result of being tested as a recruiter in the global talent pool.

Getting Ready for the Long Haul

It takes a lot of preparation, planning, and commitment to recruit in a foreign market, and so before a company decides to start recruiting candidates outside the country, begin by forecasting your needs. Once the groundwork in terms of how many people, what skills, and when people are needed is done, the HR department must involve the recruiting team in planning the process of recruitment and selection. It’s important that recruiters are involved in the planning process so that:

  • The HR department and recruiters understand the immigration/H-1B laws well because they can create some serious implications for a company both financially and in terms of future global recruitment if laws and rules are not followed correctly.
  • The recruiters clearly understand the goals of recruitment and the plan to be followed because they are the ones to implement it. Besides, it would also look really unprofessional if the candidate — upon becoming an employee — realizes that things are different or have changed over a period of 12 months or more. This is a genuine possibility because 12 months or more is a long time for things to change in a company, and this may include change in the recruiting team, the HR team, the management team or the policies of the company.

This is also a good time to put together brochures and revamp the website and applications. Unless you are Google or Microsoft, there is going be a lot of competition to recruit people from this pool of candidates. You will have to sell your company to these candidates using your website and brochures with information about the company, its clients, its HR policies, benefits, and employee growth plan/path. It will also not hurt to provide some demographic information about the workforce of the company, and to give the candidates an overview about diversity in the company.

Stick to the Timeline

I call the recruiting process a long haul because the complete process from identifying the candidates and getting them onboard can take as much as 12 months or more. I like to call it a journey, because you start off with no candidates and over a period of time, some these candidates become friends, some remain good acquaintances, and some get lost along the way. An approximate timeline would include starting the process early on — some time in September of every year — so that recruitment, selection, and completing of non-immigrant worker application forms could be taken care of by March of next year. That way, your company will be ready to submit these non-immigrant visa applications by April 1st when USCIS opens up the quota for that fiscal year.

Once the visa is applied, accepted, and approved, it will be mostly a recruiter’s task or someone from human resources to guide these candidates through the visa interview process and work with them on arrival dates. Your candidates can start arriving in the states around October 1 because effective dates for these non-immigrant work visas is October 1 .

By the time these new hires show up at your company’s doorstep, your recruiting team would have spent an incredible 12 months or more working with them.

Starting Early

One will be surprised to know that there is fierce competition to recruit these candidates on these specialty visas. Companies big and small go beyond the boundaries of the U.S. to recruit these candidates with highly specialized skills not commonly available in the U.S. Begin the process early before everyone does, because this can give you some lead time in selling your company. It also helps in building rapport with candidates. Starting early is even more important from a company’s perspective because the cost of applying for a non-immigrant visa has gone up substantially in the past two years. To give you an idea: just the application fee to apply for a single non-immigrant visa today is $2,320.00. Add another $700 to a $1,000 in attorney fee on top of this application fee. More information on the fee can be found at www.uscis.gov.

Starting early will give your company enough time to not only assess the candidate’s skills but also to assess whether it’s worth investing that much time and money.

Successful recruiters understand the premise that recruiting competent candidates from all over the world is a time-consuming process that requires a lot of patience and persistence. They also understand that dealing with candidates in different socio-economic settings across the world calls for a cautious and calculated approach. Getting acquainted with the culture of a country to which the target candidates belong to can come in handy during the recruitment process.

Switch on your salesman instincts and nurture a working relationship with the candidate by staying in contact via phone or email on a regular basis. Meeting the candidate on an occasion or two can be really helpful in making the candidate comfortable with the company. Clearly defining the recruitment and selection process will help the candidate make an informed decision.

Evaluation

Since so much time and money is involved in global recruitment, evaluation of the recruitment and selection process is a must. Evaluation in terms of company’s preparation for global recruitment, how many recruiters are needed to focus on this effort every year, cost involved per candidate, time spent with candidate before acceptance, types of questions that candidates ask, FAQs, etc will help in identifying deficiencies and strengths in the recruitment and selection process so that the same mistakes are not repeated again. Evaluation will also give a better idea about what regions of the world to target for these niche skills.
A strategy successful in one market may not be successful in another.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Chris Henrikson

    Consider Canadians. They do not have to get an H1-B.

    Under NAFTA, there is provisions for Canadians to get TN status. There are no limit caps to the number of professionals, and one can get unlimited one-year extensions on the TN status. (one would assume the potential hire would become a naturalized US citizen after some time).

    Canadian culture is basically the same as US culture (think regional differences in the US, such as a Californian VS a Texan VS a New Yorker). The education and work experience of Canadians is very comparable to the US. Often, engineers are just next door (think Vancouver / Seattle and Toronto / New York).

    Two of the brightest engineers I had the pleasure to study with are now working for Apple in California. You may not have to comb the globe for good people, only look next door.

    Here’s some UCSIS info on employing Canadian and Mexican Professionals under NAFTA:
    http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/EIB11.pdf

  2. Stephen Webster

    While Chris is correct that TN status represents an opportunity to bring Canadian or Mexican specialists into your US organization, you must use caution as you proceed.

    By its nature, the TN program is temporary in nature. If you apply for the PERM process for your TN worker, USCIS will revoke their TN visa and may have to leave the country.

    I suggest you definitely make sure you consult with your immigration lawyer as you go down this road.

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