Hire equitably: Resources for hiring refugee talent

Learn how to hire refugee candidates.

This article is a part of our Hiring Equitably series, a content series aimed at sharing resources, interviews, and how-to guides on hiring displaced and refugee talent.

The UNHCR estimates that there are over 82 million displaced people across the world, with 26 million classified as refugees. 1 in every 95 people on earth has been forced to leave their home as a result of conflict or persecution. This is an extremely vulnerable and unstable position to be in.

For refugee talent, starting over in a new country can often mean making new connections and navigating new career networks. It can also mean stress, anxiety, and trauma from past experiences and managing external factors like unreliable infrastructure or lack of access to essential technical or soft sklls training. 

Hiring can be a powerful means of spreading opportunity and uplifting displaced communities. But creating a more equal world through hiring often means providing access to roles that may otherwise feel out of reach for some candidates. 

Why hire refugee talent? 

Talent has no nationality, status, or country of origin. Talent is everywhere, in every industry and profession. Unfortunately, opportunity is not. 

Refugee and global talent, generally, is under-tapped. Many organizations miss out on the immense opportunity to create more diverse and engaged teams by connecting with professionals who have been displaced due to conflicts or persecution in their home countries. 

Furthermore, 85% of refugees live in developing countries where it can often be difficult to access well-paying jobs in their field or area of expertise. 

For years, companies who wanted to hire global talent faced compliance hurdles and the general lack of global hiring infrastructure to make it happen. This is often reflected in employer perceptions of hiring refugee talent. For example, 39% of employers in one survey said they were either unsure of how to find and hire refugee talent or believed it would be more difficult than hiring non-refugee talent.

These barriers to entry have long meant that access to roles for both global and refugee talent has been limited. For tech work especially, opportunities are often centered in a handful of legacy tech hubs in the West. But as global remote hiring capabilities expand, so can opportunities.

At Oyster, we’re helping decentralize these career opportunities by ensuring that companies can hire as easily in Beirut, Lebanon as they can in Austin, Texas, without fear of compliance roadblocks and logistical hurdles. 

Ethically, hiring refugee talent speaks to the opportunities businesses can create for talented job seekers who have been displaced through no fault of their own. Individual businesses can have an immense impact on families and communities while making inroads toward addressing skills gaps within their organizations.  

Additionally, opening up a job role to refugee talent is one practical way that companies can do well by doing good. Companies can increase diversity within their organizations, which has been linked to better-performing teams and retention.

But the internal work doesn’t stop with a job ad. 

“Diversity can’t really exist unless you’re promoting an equitable workforce and an inclusive environment,” explains Holly Simmons, Head of Growth at Niya, an inclusion platform that connects employers with untapped talent from across the world.

Hiring refugee talent means making a commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive environment where new employees can thrive and grow. This takes a deliberate approach to interviewing, onboarding, training, and mentoring talent once integrated into a team.

Resources for companies hiring refugee talent

For companies hoping to hire refugee talent within their organization, here are some resources to help find, prepare for, and engage with newly hired talent. 


With candidates from over 35 countries, Niya.ai is able to connect global employers with talent actively seeking new roles. Niya works with both employers and potential employees to create a match where skills and opportunities align. Niya offers technical, career, and soft skills training to diverse talent, while also providing resources and guidance to employers hoping to create more inclusive working environments. 

Fair HQ 

Fair HQ is a platform that helps companies gain insights into how they’re performing on key diversity and inclusion metrics. Companies looking to hire talent from underrepresented groups need to ensure their organization’s structure, processes, and policies are contributing to a fair and equitable working environment.

Oyster for Refugees

Oyster for Refugees is our new program aimed at helping organizations quickly and compliantly hire talent in 180+ countries, including Turkey, Colombia, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Germany, and Bangladesh. 

For many businesses, hiring globally can seem risky and complicated. Working with Oyster and Niya means your business can focus on hiring great talent while we handle the rest. Quickly and easily hire the engineer living in Jordan, the product manager from Kyiv, the front-end developer in Lebanon, or the UX designer based in Germany.

Reading list: 
Talent Beyond Boundaries: How-to guide for interviewing refugee talent

Open Doors Initiative: inclusivity employment toolkit
UNHCR: Guidelines to help British businesses employ refugees
Tent: Redesigning the tech hiring process for displaced talent 

Courses and resources for refugee talent

For refugee and displaced talent looking to access globally remote jobs, brushing up on technical and soft skills can improve confidence, communication, and interview readiness. 

Programs and opportunities like mentorship, coaching, and online courses help build workplace competencies and industry awareness. 

Tent refugee women mentorship initiative

Tent provides research, resources, and critical support networks for both employers and employees. With an emphasis on “mobilizing the global business community to include refugees,” Tent works with partners across the world in order to engage with and integrate refugee talent into businesses. 

Tent’s refugee women mentorship initiative pairs talent with mentors from companies like Accenture, EY, Adidas, and American Express. This mentorship opportunity helps create a career support network where professionals can share knowledge, experience, and vital career advice. 

Oyster Academy 

Oyster Academy is a great resource for anyone looking to strengthen their remote interviewing and working skills. Self-paced courses like “Preparing for Distributed Work,” and “Creating a Culture for Distributed Work” mean both employers and employees can access helpful learning material that will improve their way of working in a distributed environment.

Grow with Google

Google’s Grow with Google program offers free courses designed to help students, professionals, and everyone in between. Grow with Google empowers anyone to build up their digital skills, earn certifications, and prepare for their next role. For refugee talent who want to learn for free, work on skills related to their expertise, or just gain a better understanding of emerging technologies and tools, Grow with Google is a free and easily accessible resource.

Free courses through Udemy

Udemy’s free courses offer a broad range of lectures and materials to help learners pick up essential tech, stress-management, and productivity skills, and even pursue personal interests like photography and cooking. Free and accessible forms of education can empower those seeking opportunities to expand their knowledge and familiarity with specific subject areas. 

Get started hiring refugee talent with Oyster

We want to make it easy to find and hire refugee talent wherever they are in the world. That’s why we’ve partnered with Niya to match and connect employers with refugee talent who have the skills and experience to excel in new roles all over the world.

With Oyster for Refugees, employers can help address the unique challenges and barriers to employment that these job seekers face each day. This makes an invaluable impact by uplifting the families and communities of those affected by global conflicts. Learn more about Oyster for Refugees and discover how you can start hiring in minutes.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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