By: Caroline Dumont
Over the last few decades, we have seen a dramatic shift in the number of US companies taking on the recruitment of local talent for their overseas operation. And as more companies go global, so do the recruitment challenges associated with finding talented, loyal employees to fill those positions across the globe.
What has become apparent is that in order to be successful, companies must start thinking about their global recruitment practices in a different way. Simply taking what has worked at home and replicating that abroad will most probably not yield the desired results. But having an understanding of the local markets and unique characteristics of individual countries can be an important step in being able to successfully tailor your recruiting strategy. In this article, we will shine a spotlight on the following European countries: United Kingdom, France and Germany.
United Kingdom: The UK, a leading trading power and financial center, is one of four Western European trillion-dollar economies. According to Central Intelligence Agency 2009 data (CIA) the UK has a total working population of 31.2 million people. Overall, this country does have numerous similarities with the US. Many of the best practices that apply to the US will also apply to the UK. Candidates will expect large and well-known companies to have a significant presence online and the same media products that work well in the US will also be successful in this country. If possible, it is best to “stick to the facts” and not paint a picture that is too good to be true since job seekers generally don’t react favorably to these types of postings. Clearly show your organization’s market position and strengths, elaborate on the extra benefits if they exist and be forthcoming about why a job seeker should apply to YOUR company.
The typical commute is 30 to 40 minutes so job seekers will generally only have interest in commuting farther for higher level and/or higher paying positions. It’s therefore very important to post these higher paying positions in neighboring locations. That being said, London is an anomaly to this salary/commute correlation. London has a very good economy and senior positions attract more job seekers who are willing to commute.
France: France is considered one of the most modern countries in the world today and a leader among European nations. According to the CIA, it has a total working population of 27.9 million people. One of the unique things about this country is that the French Employment Law is very complex and in most cases, requires that all postings be in French. As a recruiter, it is your responsibility to become familiar with these laws to ensure that you are compliant. A best practice would be to have the same posting in both languages, with French at the top and a note indicating that the posting is also in English at the bottom. Even if you want an English-speaking candidate, posting in French will yield a higher response from seekers who also speak English. France has what is called “avantages en nature,” which loosely translates to “social packages.” This includes things like commuting expenses, children’s tuition expenses, bonus money for vacations, etc. These are extremely important to job seekers and should be highlighted when possible.
Germany: Germany is one of Europe’s largest economies and is the second most populous nation, behind Russia. According to the CIA, it has a total working population of 43.6 million people. Germany shares a border with Austria and Switzerland, so it has a large influx of cross-border commuters. Because of this, it is extremely important to post jobs in neighboring regions. Generally, salary is considered to be a more private discussion so it is perfectly acceptable to omit this information from the posting. To attract target candidates, posting in the local language should always be the preference. In Germany, it is also KEY to have a company profile and to clearly illustrate why your company is attractive to seekers.
When it comes to job title or profession, the German language generally still differentiates between male and female. This is accomplished by adding either “m/w” or “m/f” at the end of the title in a job posting, which stands for “mannlich/weblich” (male/female in German) and “male/female” respectively. Whereby in English for example, “doctor” can be either male or female, the masculine title is different than the feminine title in German. By adding one of the acronyms above, no repetition of the title is necessary.
A final tidbit of information: even in the Internet age, it is standard for prospective employers in Germany to still send application packets to candidates by mail. Candidates are expected to complete the appropriate forms and mail them back to the employers.
In Conclusion: You should approach the information in this article in the spirit in which it was intended, as an example of some of the differences, both big and small, that should be taken into consideration before embarking on a global recruiting strategy. It is only by having an understanding of the local markets and unique characteristics of individual countries that recruiters can truly connect with those seekers that they wish to engage. And in an environment that is becoming increasingly complex and competitive every year, understanding that context can make the difference between a successful hire and an unsuccessful one.