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How to hire international employees [Step-by-step guide]

Blue washed feminine hand holding globe against a beautiful blue sky.

Today, the possibilities for finding top talent are global. So, if you’ve ever considered hiring international employees but ended up putting it in the ‘too hard basket’, we encourage you to revisit the thought.

New technology now allows you to hire international candidates from all over the world without the legal headache or colossal price tag.

What is in this guide to hiring international employees?

Are you ready to learn what you need to know about hiring your first international employee? In this step-by-step guide, we’ll cover:

  • The importance of compliance and key areas to consider
  • Knowing the different routes to hire – PEO vs. contractors
  • How your team can understand and respect cultural differences
  • Why having policies in procedures in place is essential
  • Effectively managing different time zones as a team

Download our guide now to learn how you can tap into the international talent pool.

How does hiring foreign employees drive a competitive advantage?

In the business world, competitive advantage is the lifeline of a company. Having a clear established competitive advantage not only lets a business survive but provides them with the opportunity to thrive.

The ability to hire foreign employees has seen companies experience a wide range of benefits, ranging from filling skilled roles that were limited in your domestic area to experiencing new, creative, and rich perspectives initially off-limits to you.

But the rise of remote work allows you to access a larger talent pool. Businesses have found a way to adapt and gain a competitive advantage against each other, one such method being the use of a professional employment organisation (PEO).

Aside from the benefits of remote working, why should you be hiring international employees for your business?

We’ve prepared a few reasons why companies might want to begin developing their competitive advantage with the power of international employees.

1. International employees bring a new perspective

When you bring people who share similar backgrounds and beliefs together in a room, chances are you’re going to get an outcome that everyone agrees on – but this isn’t necessarily a good thing.

You want to encourage people to bring new and fresh perspectives to problems and challenge the status quo – and this is why an international employee can do wonders for your business.

We all know the benefits that come when you hire employees from different backgrounds, countries and cultures. One of the most important of these is that they can bring a new perspective.

International employees can share unique insights you may not have considered and bring different angles to problem-solving.

When your business is exposed to the thoughts and opinions of foreign employees, you’ll reap the benefits of the diversity of thought, which leads us to our next point…

Read more: Can you build an inclusive remote company culture?

2. International employees encourage diverse thinking

When building your business, you want the best people that can help you get to where you want to be. Whether your goal is expanding internationally, growing your team or tapping into new markets domestically, you want to have the best team for the job that covers all aspects of thinking.

When you combine a team of high-performers from all over the world, you’re going to get a well-thought-out plan and an even better result.

When people who have shared different life experiences combine their individual ideas and beliefs, that’s when things begin to come together. It’s the idea that when two unrelated viewpoints are joined, that is when true innovation occurs.

Read more: Online communication tools for collaboration between remote teams

3. Expert insights into a global market

When you’re looking to expand your business into a new market, you want to completely understand the market.

Are they driven by price? Do they value quality? Are they all about top-tier customer service?

This is where it makes sense to employ someone who has a greater understanding of the new market you’re entering and knows the target audience.

At the end of the day, having someone on your team who has localised knowledge can be the difference between a successful launch and a not-so-successful one.

They can also bring innovative ideas to the table for launch strategies and the ongoing direction for the international arm of the company.

Who wouldn’t want permanent employees on the ground in the country you’re looking to launch into?

Read more: Checklist for hiring overseas team members

4. Attract and retain employees

When expanding globally, businesses may experience the feeling of being overwhelmed and challenged in the hiring process.

However, expansion into international markets gives businesses the incredible opportunity to recruit productive and innovative employees. Businesses that explore the use of a global workforce are more adaptable to change and have a hands-on grasp of international markets.

By bringing in new talent, your existing team members can benefit from developing new skills. Your local employees gain a unique insight into global markets through the international team members with eyes on the ground.

Having a distributed team experience within your business boosts your competitive advantage and provides growth opportunities for your employees.

Read more: Retention strategies for remote teams

5. Increased productivity around the clock

The potential benefits of having a remote international team in different time zones are immense. If their time zones are several hours ahead of yours, for example, foreign employees can get started on their days when most of your local employees are still sleeping.

You will find it easier to keep clients satisfied when they need quick turnarounds on urgent projects. Increasing productivity around the clock will allow your business to maintain a competitive advantage over competitors as they rest.

Read more: Flexible working best practices

What are the legal requirements to hire international employees?

When hiring international workers, it’s important to research the legal requirements for their respective countries.

Breaching tax laws can be an expensive mistake for your company, so be sure to do your due diligence before hiring foreign employees.

1. Local laws and relevant employment laws

When hiring employees outside of your own country, they may still fall under the employment law of the country you operate in.

In Australia, for example, employees are still subject to Australian employment laws such as the Fair Work Act 2009, National Employment Standards and certain industry awards. This is standard for all employees in Australia.

You may also be beholden to the employment laws of the country your employee resides in.

For example, if you hire someone from Hong Kong, they will fall under both Australian and Hong Kong employment acts.

That means you must obey the laws surrounding contracts, termination, payroll, leave and retention of both countries.

This isn’t the case for every country so make sure to do your research beforehand. It is critical to ensure you can comply with both sets of laws.

Want to take the guesswork out of it? Employment Hero’s Global PEO services will automatically check the legal requirements for international hiring.

2. Tax treaties and tax laws

In Australia, there are many double tax agreements or tax treaties with many different countries. These agreements set out which country has the right to tax each type of income an employee earns.

This will deem whether the employee must pay tax here and in their home country as well.

Find a list of the double tax treaties in Australia here. If the country in question doesn’t appear here, you will have to do further research into that nation’s tax laws and taxation system.

3. Health and safety

Just because an employee isn’t in your office, let alone in your country, doesn’t mean that they don’t have to comply with health and safety laws.

The employee is still your responsibility so you will have to legally draft health and safety plans for overseas remote workers. This will include things such as risk assessment, hazard mitigation, health and safety reporting systems and work-related incidents.

If any role involves tasks that require personal protective equipment or other specific equipment, it is the duty of the employer to provide them or source appropriate local replacements.

4. Security and privacy

With remote teams, every piece of information and data will be sent across decentralised networks.

Your employees know a lot of sensitive information about your business so you must figure out how to protect yourself and the employee from any breaches.

Legally, you will need to find secure data transfer systems and also make sure your new staff member is well across your privacy and security policies.

Think about software such as VPNs (virtual private networks) or drive encryptions to protect everyone involved.

5. Termination of employment

It might sound a bit preemptive to be thinking about ending employment before you’ve even hired someone, but when it comes to remote overseas staff, it’s something you may need to consider.

As with things like sick leave and overtime entitlements, each country has their own laws regarding termination and some of them will be very different from what you are used to.

Requirements such as length of notice, severance pay and extra perks will differ, and you will most likely need to follow both sets of laws just like with taxation.

Don’t assume the employee will get the forms correct

Once you’ve made your hiring decision, make sure you help them through the legal processes on their end.

It will take up some of your time, but ensuring they apply for the correct working visa or fill in the employment application correctly will end up saving you a huge headache if something goes wrong.

These processes are lengthy and complicated, and as the hiring company, you can get the blame for non-compliance. It’s in your best interest to oversee any and all legal applications.

How to find the right fit when hiring international workers

When you hire a foreign employee, apply the same rules when hiring a local employee. You need to put the effort in to make sure you have the best candidate possible joining your team.

1. Screen resumes of international candidates carefully

Start by digging into the resume. Some countries may have elements in their resume you aren’t used to seeing.

Japanese resumes may have a handwriting sample, and German resumes sometimes include autobiographies with what may seem like irrelevant information, such as their parent’s occupation.

Make sure to ask about these inclusions in one of your interviews with them. It will help you learn about the culture and how the applicant thinks and works.

Similarly, don’t be afraid to contact their references and ask even more questions. Past employers are extremely valuable resources of information about an employee’s conduct and productivity.

They might also be able to tell you whether the person is in it for the long haul. International hiring can be a lengthy and complicated process, so you must make sure you acquire someone who is genuinely planning on sticking around for a while.

2. Double-check your job-post language

Language is an odd thing. Even when both countries speak English, some words may not mean the same thing. For example, though we call them optometrists, the US calls them opticians and won’t know what our word means.

While we’re at it, an ophthalmologist and an optometrist aren’t the same thing!

To ensure you find the right employees for your business, you must ensure your language is universal or at least correct for the main countries you are interested in.

Check out the Skilled Occupation List for more information on this.

3. Utilise international hiring job boards

There are quite a few different websites and programs that will connect you with employees searching for foreign jobs or becoming part of a global team.

Indeed and Glassdoor are some of the largest online career community platforms with millions of people searching for international jobs they can do from home.

Similarly, HR services such as Employment Hero can search, vet and hire the perfect employee for you and then fully maintain their needs while they are working for your company.

Individual countries will also have their own job boards. Find one in your country of interest and post jobs there. They may not be specific to global team searches, but many employment-seekers will be intrigued by the idea and keen to learn if it’s right for them.

Where are the skilled workers located?

Finding the perfect employee is hard. It’s even harder when you’re limited to candidates in a 50km radius. Currently, talent mismatch is worsening. There is a disparity between skills available in local markets and what employers require.

Skills such as digital communication, emotional intelligence and digital skills are in demand globally. With international hiring, you can now access a larger talent pool for your business.

Your future employee could live anywhere. Below we outline specific countries and what they specialise in and what skills are in demand there.

France

Suddenly craving a croissant? Well, the French have a lot more to offer than just delicious food and icons. This country has an abundance of experts in telecommunications, engineering, marketing and education fields that could help transform your business to the next level.

On the other hand, the key skills in demand for French businesses are:

  • Supply chain specialists
  • Payroll officers
  • Data analysts

Australia

G’day! Australians are a friendly bunch and will be keen to join your business. Australians are clever with a highly educated workforce; 56% of the population hold a post-school qualification, and there is a great diversity of industries.

The key experts in Australia are from the finance, business, health, education and administration sectors.

Australian businesses desire employees with these key skills:

  • Risk and compliance managers
  • Systems engineers
  • Marketing and content managers

Canada

Oh Canada, Oh Canada—how can you help my business thrive? This beautiful country filled with maple syrup and snow-capped mountains has experts in commercial banking, technology, pharmaceuticals and academia, all of which could be your next employee!

Canadian businesses are after employees with these key skills:

  • Software developers
  • Cybersecurity professionals
  • Construction estimators

Japan

Known for its delicious cuisine and caring culture, the Japanese workforce is varied and has a multitude of opportunities for companies to seek candidates from this country. Specific areas of expertise include IT professionals, researchers and sales.

Japanese businesses need employees who possess these key skills:

  • Data scientists
  • Human resource business partners
  • Indirect and direct procurement specialists

Chile

Chile is a beautiful country filled with red wine and a side of professional experts in software development, media, mining and agriculture.

However, Chilean businesses need roles filled in:

  • Account management
  • Digital Marketing
  • Engineering

Austria

Vienna is known as the city of dreams, and your next employee could be the dream candidate with expertise in real estate, construction, health care and social work.

Austrian businesses have a skill shortage in:

  • Software developers
  • IT consultants
  • SAP consultants

Singapore

Is that a bird? Is that a plane? No, it’s just your next employee sitting in Singapore’s skyscrapers saying hello (via Zoom).

They are probably an expert in communications and media, IT or construction and will help you achieve your business goals.

Key skills in demand for businesses in Singapore include:

  • Cloud engineers
  • Financial planning
  • Analysis experts

Switzerland

Their flag is a big plus, and an employee from Switzerland could be a big plus to your business!

They have expert knowledge in insurance, engineering, medicine and consulting. Switzerland businesses are after these skills:

  • Administrators
  • Helpdesk and support administrators
  • Software developers

Start hiring international employees

As you can see, the world is big and full of talent waiting to fulfil your job roles (and that was only eight countries).

Your organisation is full of potential, so it’s time to stop restricting yourself.

The perfect candidate is out there! If the global workforce connects, there is power for your business to grow exponentially.

Employment Hero’s global PEO, Global Teams, allows you to access talent in 54 countries and regain that coveted competitive advantage. Learn more by booking a demo with us today.

Still want to learn more about international hiring?

Download our guide now.

Start your international journey now
Start your international journey now
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