Making the most of the new borderless talent pool

The pandemic has forced organizations to boom, bust or pivot

Making the most of the new borderless talent pool

by Jim Harmon, Managing Partner at Boyden. He can be reached at [email protected]

The pandemic has forced organizations to boom, bust or pivot. In two of these cases, it has driven a seemingly insatiable demand for more and greater talent. Combine that with a newfound acceptance for remote work, and organizations are in the unprecedented position of being able to cherry pick the best leadership from anywhere. As exciting as this is, the decisions should be made carefully. There are important considerations to ensure recruiting remotely - and even across borders - is effective, fruitful and sustainable.

There are two key drivers for the healthy and active leadership recruitment market that is taking place. First, many organizations are pivoting in response to pressures from the economic downturn, which has required them to bring in new skillsets. A good example is United Airlines, which was one of the fastest in the business to ready itself for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Not only did that move take vision and agility, it likely required new and upgraded skill sets across areas such as regulatory affairs, distribution, logistics and supply chain, all of which will be helpful for an expanded cargo business even after the pandemic.

The second driver is that many organizations are actually grappling with overwhelming growth. Exercise equipment, home decor, home improvement products - the list goes on. Many of us have experienced first hand the supply chain issues in these industries. And the organizations themselves are also facing new regulatory obligations and resourcing challenges. With lucrative federal government support, for example, it can be difficult to entice minimum-wage employees to show up for work. As a result, new senior skill sets are in demand, whether that’s to support innovation in automation, or help navigate the challenging regulatory environment, such as moving products across borders.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has given us a trial run of remote work. And, it turns out, it's more than workable. There are challenges, yes, but many reports show that productivity is way up, new forms of collaboration are possible, and there are some real wins for work-life balance. If anything, it’s become quite clear that there either isn’t a need for a traditional head office or we just don’t need to be there all the time. Shopify may have been first out of the gate to declare its workforce ‘digital by default’, but they certainly aren’t the only company with eyes wide open to the huge talent pool beyond our borders.

Think about it: If relocation is no longer a requirement, offering and accepting a role becomes simpler for both candidate and employer. While there is a great deal of freedom and possibility in that, it’s important to remember that it also means it’s equally simple for either party to bid adieu.  Still, the implications of that happening are much lower for both.

Of course, there are also positions and functions where a national cultural sensitivity is important. For most, however, the digestibility of that balance may be worth considering if your organization is short on specialized and senior local talent and would benefit from casting a wider net. If you do decide to take the plunge and seek out talent-beyond-borders, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Easy access to a hub

While remote may be the present and future, it’s possible a hybrid may be more appealing and effective as time goes on. You should have a clear and articulate vision for the organization’s future to manage expectations for all. Some in-person connection is likely to take place in any event, so consider how travel routes have or may change and seek out individuals with easy access to a main hub for travel.

Experience working remotely

Everyone has a touch of remote work experience thanks to COVID-19, but it’s wise to consider how much a candidate has under their belt. A demonstrated track record of working remotely or on the road is a good indication that this isn’t just a passing preference. 

International hire HR implications

If you don’t currently have experience with employees in the US or abroad, you will want to get expert advice on the comparable medical benefits, compensation packages, taxation and relevant legislation. A professional can simplify this for you and make cross-border hiring seamless.

Fit is always top priority

Diversity of perspective has proven time and again to be a recipe for success. Bringing someone on board from another jurisdiction could be just what you need to mix up a homogeneous leadership pool. That said, the importance of cultural fit with the organization doesn’t lessen because of geography, so keep that in mind whether you are looking domestically or abroad.

Much remains to be seen as we wind our way through the pandemic and beyond. In lieu of waiting for the history books to be written, it’s safe to say the remote environment has changed things forever, opened up a world of talent beyond our borders, and it’s time to widen our range of view.

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