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What we learned about hiring internationally at Workable World Tour Asia

We started planning our first series of events to be held in Asia six months ago. Part of our Workable World Tour, Asia was new territory for us as a business.

Content team
Content team

Content manager Keith MacKenzie and content specialist Alex Pantelakis bring their HR & employment expertise to Resources.

As Workable’s Events Marketing Manager, it was also a new challenge for me. I’d never visited Singapore or Dubai—the two venues we’d chosen to hold our events—before. And, at the time, I remember worrying about minor details of our marketing strategy more than usual. What grounded me, though, was remembering one of our core values here at Workable: to think and act as a global company in everything we do.

Looking across our Boston office, watching our sales department and customer success team at work, I could see our mission in action all around me. With 6000+ companies in over 80 countries, and 24/7 support on-tap for all customers, operating globally is at the heart of what we do. Almost immediately, the small, practical niggles I’d been focusing on fell away. The thrill of meeting new customers, of forging links in a fresh location and of discovering and meeting a new set of challenges took over. Asia… here we come!

First stop, Singapore

Fast forward six months, and we’re at the airport about to board our plane. It takes twenty three hours and fifteen minutes to get from Boston Logan International airport to Singapore Changi. Just enough time to triple check some of the logistics, catch up on some podcasts and have a snooze.

At Singapore, purple flowers lined the highway all the way to our hotel in Sentosa. And, with the sun setting gently over palm trees, I couldn’t have hoped for a better setting for our first event.

The next day, over 40 Workable customers and HR professionals packed the outdoor restaurant on Sentosa beach that we’d booked for the venue. Undeterred by the daily monsoon, we listened to renowned speaker, Hung Lee, present on destination branding as part of an international hiring strategy. Author of popular recruiting newsletter, Recruiting Brainfood and founder of, Hung’s message was a powerful one—it’s easier to source and secure tech talent from overseas if you focus on three key things:

No 1.
You need an ATS with a built in sourcing tool like People Search, so you can quickly identify talent and then reach out and make meaningful contact.

No 2.
You have to become a recruitment marketer—selling your city and country as well as your company.

No 3.
You need to build all of this into your hiring process. Use your careers page as a relocation portal. And look at research sites like Expat Arrivals to understand and prepare for the types of questions a candidate might ask when considering a move overseas.

Inspired by Hung’s presentation, the conversations that followed were lively and varied. We covered everything from candidate bias and the demographics of Singapore’s workforce to the economic and social impacts that recruiters manage on a tactical as well as strategic level.

Lots to think about. Lots to learn. And lots to take forward to our next venue.

Second stop, Dubai

A hop, skip and a quick layover in Sri Lanka, and we’re in Dubai. No promise of rain here, so we cooled off in the shadow of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, ready for our second event.

Recent westernization of Dubai has led to massive growth and expansion within the city. This has created opportunities for new companies and an urgent need for more talent. No surprise then that this was a hot topic of debate across the room. How do you find quality prospects, make timely contact, and turn that passive outreach into your next software developer—all from a different continent?

The answers we reached reinforced our key takeaways from Singapore on international recruitment and hiring. Number 1, get the right sourcing tool. Number 2, learn to become a recruitment marketer. And number 3, give candidates the information they need to seriously consider relocation. In short, you need to build a unique candidate experience that meets the needs of this unique market.

Third stop, the rest of the world!

The value of hosting these events was clear both in the number of people who registered, attended and shared, and the breadth of topics covered. The response we had from our dedicated community of recruiters and HR professionals was amazing. And having the support of Hung Lee, who despite a packed schedule came halfway around the world with us, is testimony that this is a hot topic. So all I can say is… watch this space. I can’t wait for what the rest of 2018 brings. From London to Athens, San Francisco to New York, Sydney to Auckland and everywhere in between – we look forward to meeting you soon!

This post was written by Events Marketing Manager, Whitney Klepadlo.

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