When I started my International MBA studies in the early 90’s (yes, indeed a very long time ago) the recruitment industry was at its earlier stages. The world wide web was still under the radar, Google did not exist and social networks were only available in SciFi movies. Still, this industry at the time already consisted of both global firms and smaller local boutique firms like M18.

The global firms were able to share knowledge, information, tools and processes between their offices in different countries, i.e. they were able to profit off bigger scale economies. This however did not stop local firms from making their mark in the industry. Why? Because they were more flexible and able to quickly adapt to local market changes and client demand as they did not have to report to Corporate Headquarters abroad.

One of the first recruiters that we saw ‘invade’ recruitment territories in other countries were from the UK. Certain companies chose to work with such recruiters because they worked no-cure-no-pay and applied a strong sales pitch to ‘convince’ candidates. Still, this often did not work because candidates could not go in-depth and get more info about the role/company. Once they started asking questions these UK-based recruiters often got lost. Another hurdle was their lack of knowledge of the local language, and no real understanding of how people in other countries like to be approached. When a candidate wants to talk about something as sensitive and important as a career switch they do not want to feel ‘pushed’. And let’s be honest, most companies do not want to be represented in such a way.

Now does this mean that globalisation does not work for recruitment firms? Absolutely not! On the contrary, today there’s much potential for boutique firms to go international. It’s a trend that we have been seeing at M18 in the past few years.

Here are several explanations for this trend:

  • Access to information is increasing ever since the launch of search engines. Small anecdote: I remember when in the year 2000 an intern at the office showed me Google, I was stunned…;
  • Companies are becoming more international, especially the start- and scale-ups. They often prefer to work with one recruitment partner from their ‘home country’ that knows them well and can help with their international expansion and recruitments abroad;
  • Candidates worldwide have become much more visible through LinkedIn and other social media, boutique recruiters know where to find- and how to approach them;
  • Combine this with another trend that’s been accelerating (especially since the start of Covid-19) which is video interviews. With Zoom, Teams, Skype etc. boutique recruitment firms have the ability to interview candidates worldwide.

If your recruiting company wants to work with a local firm for your international recruitment do make sure that the recruiters:

  • are familiar with the target countries. This can be neighbouring countries, countries that they often visited (or even lived in)…;
  • have cultural sensitivity and approach candidates in a manner that is appreciated;
  • speak the relevant languages to approach candidates in target countries (including English for certain places).

As you may have read between the lines we believe that recruitment globalisation is here. It’s no longer only for multinationals, smaller and local companies should certainly dare to jump on this bandwagon.  

Have you started this process? Or do you have plans to do so? Always happy to receive your feedback! Do react through LinkedIn or contact us to start the conversation!

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