By: Anna Cowell on September 14th, 2022

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3 Lessons From International Development to Improve Your Hiring

Recruitment outsourcing

If you’ve had trouble recruiting recently, don’t worry. It’s not just you. A worldwide survey of employers found that 45% of companies can’t find the people they need, with 67% of larger companies reporting recruiting problems.

The hiring market is competitive right now, and employers need a great recruitment strategy if they want to secure top talent. If you can be innovative or creative in the way you recruit, it can give you an edge over your rivals.

One way to improve your recruitment process is to look at what you can learn from other sectors. And the world of international development can provide some useful tips.

What is international development?

International development is an industry made up of for-profit, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies committed to working with communities around the world to improve their economic situation and quality of life. InterAction’s International Development 101  provides a great overview of the industry’s successes, goals, and focus.

Many of the people in development are working in their home countries, while others are working internationally. Leaders in this industry have been hiring a globally dispersed and mobile workforce for years.

Ensuring you identify and hire the best candidate is important for every company, but especially when the boss isn’t even in the same time zone as the new hire. Borrowing from some of the best practices of managers used to working globally can ensure that you make the right hire no matter where your candidates are.

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What can recruiters learn from international development?

When you work in international development, you get a different perspective from that of the corporate world. Here are three things I’ve learned over the years:

Make sure the logistics work for everyone

I once had a candidate tell me they woke up at 4 AM to take my call. I thought she was in New Delhi, but she was in Sydney on the day we were going to speak. I had suggested times that would have been late morning for me in Washington, DC, and early evening where I thought she was. But she thought she had to choose among the times I sent rather than suggesting a time that would work for both of us (I still feel guilty).

Today’s candidates are more mobile and may be traveling or based in a different time zone. Some have obligations they can’t escape, such as family responsibilities or obligations to their current job. These factors make it tricky to find hours that work for everyone.

When you are coordinating a panel, it is easier to slot candidates in the times that work best for you. However, you should ensure that candidates feel comfortable enough to tell you if your interview schedule doesn’t work for them. You want candidates to be rested and ready when the interview so you can see their strongest side.

Don’t assume your cultural norms are their cultural norms

Most job searching practices (how you address your interviewer, “thank you” notes from candidates, what information is included on resumes, what constitutes professional dress) are cultural. Expecting candidates to follow unwritten rules and behave the way you expect isn’t the best way to hire.

Assuming that all candidates will share your cultural perspective is a form of bias. Successful hiring requires you to be mindful of all cultures, so that nothing interferes with you hiring the best person for the job.

Don’t assume that all candidates will apply in the same way. Tell them about things you expect, such as a cover letter. If they present themselves differently from other candidates, be intentional about looking beyond those differences in your evaluation of the candidate.

Evaluate the candidate, not the technology

Most of us have gotten used to video calls over the last few years. We’ve come to take for granted fast, stable internet and effortless video call connections. It can be easy to forget that not everyone has access to uninterrupted high-speed internet. No matter how many times you test your connection or log onto your video platform beforehand, systems can crash and connections can fail.

Technical problems shouldn’t stand in the way of you signing a great candidate. When these things happen, make a conscious effort to focus on how well they respond to your questions. If you find yourself feeling distracted because of the glitches, make a concerted effort to focus on what the person is saying. You might also pause for a moment to look at fixes, such as turning off video and continuing with an audio-only conversation.

If the glitches are so bad that you can’t communicate, suggest rescheduling or speaking by phone instead. If the position requires you to be able to observe them on video, then reschedule and talk about alternative communication options. In all cases, don’t let technology get in your way of evaluating their strengths as a candidate.

Executing your recruitment strategy

International development managers have always had to adapt, be flexible, and be able to build cross-cultural relationships. Incorporating these skills in your hiring will improve your candidate experience and the quality of your hires. Make conscious choices to stay focused on whether the candidate has the right skills to succeed in the role and you can make more inclusive hiring decisions.

It helps if you have experienced HR professionals to help you develop and execute your recruitment strategy. If you don’t have in-house expertise, you can always look at bringing in an expert HR or RPO consultant.

Want to talk to a recruitment strategy expert? Book a no-obligation call with Helios HR today.

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