Building a global talent strategy: Top tips from Oyster’s VP of People

Expert advice to help you start recruiting internationally.

People working remotely from various countries

If you’re a People leader or a hiring manager, you probably want to find the best candidate to fill a role. Traditionally, you might be limited by your local talent pool, meaning the people who happen to live within a 30-mile radius. If you’re looking for a highly specialized skill set, it might be hard to fill the role, and if you’re in an oversaturated market like London or San Francisco, the competition for talent is intense.

That’s where hiring internationally comes in. By opening up your search to include other countries, or even the whole world, you gain access to a talent pool that’s potentially as vast as planet Earth. With remote work gaining traction and talent shortages continuing to hinder business growth, now is a great time to go global in your recruitment efforts. By building a globally diverse team, you’ll also gain a competitive advantage thanks to having a wider range of perspectives and skill sets coming together to solve business problems.

Curious about hiring across borders? Learn the basics of building a global team with our free guide to hiring global talent!

If you’re excited about the idea of working with international talent, but aren’t sure how to get started with global hiring, you’re not alone. That’s why we sat down with Eryn Marshall, a veteran recruiter and talent acquisition leader who is also Oyster’s VP of People, to ask for her advice and insights on building a global talent strategy. Having led Oyster through hyper-growth, hiring more than 500 people in 70 countries worldwide, Eryn is passionate about hiring internationally and extending access to opportunity to underserved communities.

During a wide-ranging conversation, Eryn discussed the benefits of global teams, offered step-by-step guidance on building a global hiring strategy as well as practical advice for how to thrive as a distributed team.

Benefits of globally distributed teams

If you’re considering hiring global talent and need to present a business case to the leadership team, the benefits of hiring international employees range from overcoming talent shortages to breaking into new markets. Hiring across borders also gives you access to a diverse talent pool, helps decrease labor costs, and allows critical business functions to run seamlessly around the clock.

Increased diversity

If you limit yourself to your local talent pool, meaning people who live in your city, you’re automatically limited to the demographics of the population that lives there. Even when there’s a push for diversity and inclusion, a local recruiting strategy is often very limiting and it’s hard to make a meaningful impact on the diversity of the company.

Conversely, by recruiting globally, you can intentionally build a more diverse workplace. “Hiring globally allows you to bring in people from all over the world, which leads to a greater diversity of thought, experience, backgrounds, communication styles, perspectives, and approaches to problem-solving,” says Eryn. “It enriches your company culture and makes you a stronger organization.”

Cost-conscious growth

In tough economic times, cost-conscious growth is often top of mind for company executives and HR leaders. In expensive markets like New York and London, salaries tend to be very high, often driven up by bidding wars between companies competing locally for the same talent.

“But when you open up the pool and look at countries around the world, it’s a great way to lower your headcount costs and still get incredibly qualified talent,” says Eryn. What’s more, you can elevate global talent by paying them above local market rates and providing opportunities for career development and growth. 

Time zone coverage

In a hyper-competitive business landscape, another benefit of having your workforce spread out across time zones is being able to keep your business running 24-7. As people are ending their workday in one part of the world, another group is just starting their day, so the work continues seamlessly.

If you have customers in specific regions that you need to support, or if there are functions like customer service or IT support that need to provide round-the-clock coverage, you can fill those needs by intentionally hiring across time zones. A globally distributed workforce helps ensure a seamless continuity of service.

Building a robust global talent strategy

When you go global with your talent strategy, it adds extra layers of complexity. Suddenly, you have to juggle time zones, regional differences in hiring practices, legal compliance in various countries, the logistics of international payroll and benefits, and more. It can soon get overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to set a strong foundation for your global talent strategy. By doing the necessary planning and preparation ahead of time, you can avoid overwhelm and set yourself up for success.

Align with company leadership

Make sure you understand the company’s reasons and objectives for hiring globally, because your talent strategy will depend on what the company is trying to accomplish. For example, is there a particular growth goal while staying within a certain budget for salary costs? Or maybe there’s a major customer in Singapore and you need time zone coverage in that region.

“There’s a foundational level of alignment with the leadership that needs to happen before you can get started,” says Eryn. Once you’ve gained clarity on the company’s reasons for wanting to hire global talent, it’ll be much easier to build a recruiting strategy to support those overarching objectives.

Do a skills gap analysis

Take stock of what skills you already have on the team and which ones you need. For instance, if the head of engineering comes to you and says they need to hire 10 engineers, ask them what specific programming languages and experience they need to have, and whether there are specific skill sets that have been particularly hard to find in the past.

Doing a skills gap analysis will help your HR and recruiting teams figure out which roles you need to recruit for globally, as opposed to where you’ve searched for talent historically.

Decide how global you want to go

While it can be tempting and exciting to cast the widest possible net, the reality is that it can be challenging to work across time zones if there’s very little overlap, particularly for managers trying to support their team members and for colleagues who need to collaborate closely.

That’s why it’s important to ask yourself how global you want to go. Do you want to ensure a certain number of overlapping hours each day? Do you want to hire clusters of people in particular regions or time zones? Thinking through these questions will help you be intentional about where to hire.

Choose the right tools

Invest the time upfront to choose the right tools that’ll set your recruiting team up for success, and enable them to grow and scale over time. At a minimum, you’ll need an applicant tracking system to help you manage applications and review candidates, and a scheduling tool to manage time zones and set up interviews. You might also use an interview intelligence tool to record interviews, generate AI summaries, and enable the hiring team to watch and provide feedback asynchronously.

Setting up your tech stack in advance will make it easier for your recruiting team to collaborate with hiring managers or teams, especially in a remote or distributed workplace where people might be in different time zones. 

Find a global employment partner

Once you’ve found your next great hire, whether they’re in Austria or Argentina, how are you going to hire them? How will you run payroll and administer benefits? Will you contribute to their pension? How will ensure compliance with local labor laws and tax regulations? It can quickly become burdensome for your HR or People Ops team.

Instead, you can work with a global employment partner, such as an employer of record (EOR), that’ll handle all of the above, from generating compliant contracts to managing time off, from social security contributions to severance. A global employment solution like Oyster can handle payroll, benefits, and compliance around the world, so you don’t have to deal with the admin or logistics in-house.

Working with a partner also helps avoid the potential risks of non-compliance. “There are huge risks in terms of, for example, fines for not being compliant with deductions or wages paid or hours worked. Being investigated and penalized could be detrimental to your company, or even put you out of business,” explains Eryn. “It really isn’t worth the risk,” she says, especially when the resources to mitigate risk are easily available.

Thriving as a globally distributed team

Recruiting international candidates is just the beginning. After that begins the work of ensuring that your new hires are properly integrated into your company culture and set up for success as remote workers in a distributed environment. When you’re managing a remote workforce, it’s especially important to design a well-structured onboarding process, maintain good communication and documentation, and build an inclusive workplace culture where everyone feels welcome.

Design a robust onboarding

A comprehensive onboarding process introduces new hires to your company’s culture and values, as well as your internal systems, processes, and ways of working. It ensures that new joiners understand the norms and expectations in your organization, so that everyone is on the same page and ready to work together effectively. Include introductory meetings with their manager, teammates, and other stakeholders they’ll be collaborating with, so they can start establishing good working relationships.

To onboard remote employees across time zones, the process should be as self-serve as possible, so that people can work through it independently, in their own time and at their own pace. Provide information to review, training videos to watch, and instructions to set up tools. Create a checklist of onboarding tasks to help them keep track of what they need to do.

Maintain good communication and documentation

“You can’t over-communicate, and you never want to leave people wondering about what’s next,” says Eryn, whether it’s during the recruiting process or after they’ve signed the contract. “You want them to feel safe and secure and know what’s coming next. Communicate early, communicate often, and set expectations.” Clear and consistent communication ensures a good candidate experience, and helps set the tone for the working relationship as they anticipate their first day on the job.

Once the new hire starts their onboarding, good documentation is as important as good communication. Be as detailed as possible in describing your systems, processes, and policies, and provide resources for them to consume. Especially in a globally remote setting, where backgrounds and work experiences may be extremely varied, clear and detailed documentation will help get everyone on the same page faster.

Build an inclusive workplace culture

Hiring globally inherently creates a more diverse organization, but you need awareness and intentionality to also make it an inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued and welcome. This might mean constantly checking in to see whether your company norms and practices are culturally and geographically inclusive.

As a People leader or hiring manager, you might encounter things you’re unfamiliar with, such as résumés or communication styles that are different from what you’re used to. “Approach everything with curiosity,” says Eryn, because it helps you stay open-minded. Cultural differences in the workplace can be an opportunity to reflect, learn, and grow as a team.

Experiment and iterate

Hiring remotely across borders is still relatively new and people are still figuring out best practices in terms of recruiting internationally, building global teams, and designing distributed workplaces. So don’t be afraid to try something, see how it goes, learn from it, and then iterate. As you build your global talent strategy, you might not get everything right at first, but you can approach the process with a willingness to learn and grow. Ultimately, it’s that growth mindset that will enable you to grow and thrive as an organization.

For more tips and expert advice, check out the recording of Global Hiring 101 with Eryn Marshall. If you’re considering hiring internationally for the first time, and want to learn more about sourcing and evaluating candidates, onboarding global talent, and managing distributed teams, you’ll find all that and more in our guide to hiring global talent.

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