Hiring an international employee: Five steps to successful relocation

By Mark Costa-Rising 

There are plenty of reasons to hire an international employee. Whether you are looking to add diversity to your workplace or seeking tough-to-acquire talent, searching overseas for the newest addition to your employee roster is always worth considering.

But, international relocation can be difficult. Plenty of businesses are put off by the sheer complexity of the task. By breaking the process down, though, any business can at least start to consider their options, and the potential for hiring an international employee.

Step One: Hire the Right International Employee

When it comes to relocating overseas, any old candidate won’t do. It’s not enough for them to have the skills you need; they need the determination and confidence to see it through. Make sure your recruitment process is just as tailored to their personal ability to cope with an overseas job as their ability to actually perform well in the role.

Experience working abroad is a good start, but there are plenty of other things to look out for as well, such as cultural awareness, previous examples of adaptability and more.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

Step Two: Plan, Plan, Plan

The greatest weapon you have in your arsenal when it comes to hiring an international employee and moving them overseas is a detailed plan. There are lots of moving parts associated with international relocation. Lots of things to do, lots of things to sort and prepare.

Planning helps ensure nothing is missed and that relocation goes as smooth as possible. Within your plan, include things like:

  • What date is the move?
  • What timescale do you have?
  • How are you getting them from A to B?
  • Do they have a family to move? How will you support this?
  • How are you going to accommodate them during their stay?
  • How long is the move for?
  • What do you need to prepare domestically for their arrival?
  • Who is going to manage this moving project?
  • How many people are involved?
  • How is this going to change the work dynamic?
  • How much is it going to cost?
  • What legal implications are there?
  • What personal things must you prepare for your candidate? Transport, banking, bills, etc.

International relocation is a tough project. It is recommended you use a corporate relocation company to help support you in the moving process, ensuring you don’t miss anything, or slip up, during the crucial planning stage.

Step Three: Jump Through the Proper Hoops

International relocation isn’t as easy as finding an employee you like and shipping them and their stuff over. In order to bring them over to your nation, you’ll have a number of legal hoops that you need to jump through and moving requirements you must follow. These include:

  • Insurances — Moving somebody overseas means that they may need insurance coverage for things like health care.
  • Legal — Are they legally allowed to enter and work in the country? Establish if bringing them into the country will break any laws and, if so, how you go about rectifying these issues.
  • Immigration — Often, the biggest legal problem is immigration. Every country has different immigration processes and policies. You need to find out everything you can about how to migrate your prospect. Failure to do so will likely end in the move falling through.
  • Internal Process — If you work for a large business, moving an international employee into your roster may incur some additional work for HR. Find out what extra paperwork, if there is any, needs to be carried out.
  • Tax — Moving an international prospect not only means they have tax responsibilities in their new nation, but also their obligations back home change. Investigate how tax laws in both nations will affect your new hire.

Step Four: Move Your Candidate

Obvious, right?

The key to a successful move is not simply loading up an employee and their things and letting other people do the rest. No, the key is monitoring the progress of all moving elements, from person to property.

Problems with things like shipping errors and passport or visa issues can cause massive issues for your deadlines and your new prospect’s personal stress levels. Taking a hands-on approach and getting more involved is the best way to ensure things run properly and that problems are corrected quickly if they occur.

Assign a designated project manager or management team; somebody that knows the ins and outs of the move. Note that if you use a corporate moving company, most will assign one for you.

The idea is that they are responsible for checking on progress and keeping up communication. In the event of problems, your prospect/movers/shippers/immigration officials know exactly who to turn to.

Step Five: Support Them Post-Move

Once an employee is on the ground in their new country, you might be forgiven for thinking you can put your feet up; that the work is done. Unfortunately, there is still one more step to follow. Repatriation — your employee going home — is a genuine concern amongst HRs in the international recruitment business.

Problems settling in, poor workplace communication, culture shock and other external factors can all influence an employee post-move and result in them packing their bags. Given the colossal cost and investment of recruiting and international employee, this is a nightmare scenario.

Hiring an international employee and ensuring they stay as an employee can be made successful through continued post-move support.

Start with the basics. Help them get settled in at their own pace. Assist them in becoming accustomed to their new home and provide guidance with things like culture. You are likely their only point of reference in their new home country, which means you must be willing to support them in their personal life. Then, move onto more complicated matters, like helping to integrate them into the workplace and establishing them for the long term.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024