ATD Blog

Half of Global Companies Struggle to Find Candidates With International Mindset

Friday, August 5, 2016

Companies are struggling with recruiting the right people to place global roles. In fact, 46 percent of HR managers have trouble finding good candidates with an "international outlook," according to new research from CEMS, a global alliance of business schools, multinational companies, and non-governmental organizations offering the CEMS Master’s in International Management. 

For the study, CEMS and its corporate partner Universum conducted in-depth interviews with 80 global HR managers on the challenges of recruiting globally and managing an international workforce. Half of the respondents were based in Europe, and more than half were also from major companies with over 1,000 employees. 

One in seven (14 percent) HR managers from larger organizations said that some 30 percent of managers within their company work internationally (out of their home country). According to the data, the key challenges faced by these employees working abroad include:

  • understanding a new culture (48 percent)
  • culture shock (25 percent)
  • language or communication issues (16 percent). 

Other concerns raised include visa issues, high costs for the company, as well as difficulties with helping employees repatriate and finding a position for them when they return from overseas assignments. The research found that 87 percent of HR managers believe foreign language skills are important for employability. 
Despite these concerns, 74 percent of European HR managers stated that hiring from different countries leads to a diverse working atmosphere. In Asia and in the United States, most HR managers hire overseas applicants so as to close recruiting gaps for jobs that are otherwise hard to fill. They also do so because their graduate hires expect to work with international colleagues. 


Roland Siegers, executive director of CEMS, said: “It is clear that global mobility is very much on the agenda of HR professionals, particularly in larger organizations where a substantial proportion of managers operate internationally.” 


According to Siegers, companies need internationally educated leaders and employees who can “build bridges across the divides” and are globally minded, but also sensitive enough to know when to act locally. With this in mind, “companies need to invest in employees and managers to make sure they are equipped with the skills to operate globally,” concluded Siegers.


About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently sources and authors content for TD Magazine and CTDO, as well as manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs. Contact her at [email protected] 

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