SmartRecruiters Blog

What to Know Before Acquiring International Talent in the United States

When growing your company, it’s important to think about the qualities you’re looking for in a new hire, and there are times when the domestic hiring process can be exhausting and ineffective for high-level jobs.

That’s where the international market comes in. 55% of companies in the US said they were interested in finding talent abroad. This is mostly achieved through H1-B visas, largely used by the computer science industry. The H1-B visa allows ‘highly skilled’ workers to fill a position for three years, with potential for extension.

Not only does hiring an international candidate give your company access to a new, outside perspective, it can also be a great jumping off point if you’re thinking about expanding abroad. According to Envoy’s 2017 Immigration Trends report, 91% of employers believe that ‘sourcing foreign national employees is important to their companies’ talent acquisition strategy.’

Although technologically we’re more advanced than ever before, it’s still difficult to reach every viable recruit. This can be navigated by using marketing translations to attract talent, highlight job openings, or integrate your brand into the local market. This post will outline some additional best practices to follow before looking for foreign talent, and thanks to new legislation by the European Union coming into effect, doing business or hiring within Europe comes with a whole new set of requirements.

Look to Booming Markets

Getting the best talent is all about looking in the right places. You want your company to stay ahead of the trends, which is why you should search for employees in the latest emerging markets.

This has traditionally brought to mind countries like India and China, but those markets are quickly becoming oversaturated. In 2005, Goldman Sachs listed the eleven countries they believed had the greatest potential of becoming major economic players in the 21st century. Deemed the Next 11 (N11), countries like Iran, Mexico, South Korea, and Pakistan are a great place to look for the best and brightest before they get recruited by competitors.  

Be Culturally Sensitive

When looking to these emerging markets, however, you must be mindful of cultural differences, and there are many potential resources that can help you navigate these markets. For example, a current employee from that country can go a long way in easing any nerves newcomers might have. If there’s an expatriate community, make a connection to better understand what to keep in mind when searching and how to integrate new team members.

A recruiter can also be a helpful tool in gathering information and meeting workers. Having a contact that understands and is a part of the culture will help your business avoid any potential faux-pas. It will also show your audience that you’re mindful and respectful of their culture.

Get Local with Sourcing

The same goes when using social networks. While LinkedIn may be among the most popular networking tool in the United States, it may be virtually unused in some areas. In China, for example, QZone and WeChat are by far the most accessed platforms. In Russia, Vkontakte is favored by 54% of Russia’s online population. Having a strong presence on local sites like these will allow you to access a wider pool of talent.

Understand Legislation

Studying international immigration laws is key to successful overseas recruitment. If you happen to ignore one crucial step to in the process, you could lose out on the talent that you spent so long looking for. Be aware of and prepare for any potential legal barriers before starting your search.

In your search for the perfect candidate, you must petition the government to get approval for an H1-B visa. Ensure the job is highly specialized, establish a payment rate, and inform the U.S. workforce of your intentions to hire abroad. Next, your company will have to submit various forms and applications to the Department of Labor. This is an extremely important process, as approval here will be what allows your overseas talent to successfully apply for their workers visa. In the past, instances like Disney’s rescinding of the issuance of H-1B visas were due to widespread criticism that was a result of a lack of transparency and poor decision-making. If the company had managed their outsourcing operations in a more sensitive and accurate manner, this issue would likely not have occurred to such a large scale.

By properly anticipating and accessing local resources, your brand can give itself the best chance of reaching new talent. Show your company cares by learning more about the culture, and be conscious of potential pitfalls when it comes to legalities.


As of May 25th this year, any exposure your business has to Europe – or more, Europeans – will have to comply with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, and this starts with hiring. How you collect and store personal data from candidates and employees will be a matter of EU law, with several requirements such as informing EU citizens how and where their data is being kept, for how long, and how easy it will be for them to have their data removed from your system in a transparent way. If this sounds like a lot of work, it is, but penalties for non-compliance should be motivation enough: €20 million, or 4% of your annual gross, whichever is HIGHER. That’s right, unless you’re as big as Disney, this can destroy your company, so be sure to add GDPR to the top of your foreign-hire considerations list.

Rachel Wheeler