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Recruiting for overseas jobs: Tips for sourcing and securing tech talent across continents

“Hiring tech talent is difficult.” As an account manager, this is a phrase I hear from our customers in the US and the UK every single day. Companies often have their headquarters where the talent is; London, Boston, New York, Silicon Valley. And it’s true, finding talent in these places is hard.

Ryan Varney
Ryan Varney

Ryan is the Head of Product Marketing at Workable. He manages product launches,and creates sales and marketing materials.

Recruiting for overseas jobs

Recruiting, and especially recruiting for overseas jobs, isn’t just about tracking down the right candidate, it’s also about creating a great candidate experience—and making sure you hire the right candidate before anyone else.

Now imagine doing that when the talent is over 7,000 miles and multiple time zones away. That’s Singapore. Of course there’s local talent, but Singapore serves as the Asia Pacific headquarters of companies including Facebook, Netflix, Oracle, and SAP. With competition like that, imagine sourcing talent for your local startup.

Where would you turn to find candidates for specialized positions? Perhaps to the same markets that are already so oversubscribed—to London, Boston, NYC, Silicon Valley.

Sourcing tech talent in Singapore

I met with our Workable customers in Singapore and Dubai in late March and early April, to speak with the heads of recruitment at their headquarters. I also spoke to startups scaling in both locations.

TenX, based in Singapore, is an innovative new company with a focus on blockchain and virtual currencies. With a top floor office, an unobstructed view of Marina Bay Sands, interesting work and a great working environment, I figured it would be easy to attract talent for their teams. After speaking with them, I realized that this is just how they retain talent.

Attracting it is a bit more difficult.

Using an ATS with a built-in sourcing tool

It was People Search, Workable’s built-in sourcing tool that was the deciding factor in choosing new recruiting software for TenX. They proactively source around 50% of their candidates for every role—which is certainly higher than many customers I speak to in the US and UK.

People Search enables TenX to run their own Boolean searches for specific skills, universities, and markets, something they hadn’t seen in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) before. In addition, there’s the Workable Chrome Extension. Using this means they can look up candidates anywhere online, including social media sites and specialist online communities. In one click, they can add potential candidates straight to their Workable hiring pipelines, with details including resume, social profiles, contact details and more.

Source and attract more candidates

Workable helps you build and promote your brand where your next candidates are. You’re always top of mind, whether they’re actively looking or not.

Start sourcing

Attracting talent to a new location

There’s no doubt People Search helps you identify talent faster. But that’s just half the challenge. The other half is persuading your best candidates to move to a new location.

Our guest speaker, Hung Lee—author of the popular recruiting newsletter, Recruiting Brainfood, and founder of—picked up on this during the event. His point was that, while you might start out searching for talent, suddenly you’re also a recruitment marketer. Only this time you’re not advertising the benefits of working at your company, you’re marketing your city or your country.

If you put yourself in the mind of a candidate being contacted by a company in a foreign location, what’s the first thing you’d want to know? Is it the salary? Your job title? The direction of the company? Probably none of these things.

“Why would I want to move to there?”

This is usually the first question. Moving continents isn’t a decision you can take based on the potential of a great office view and some excellent snacks.

The questions that follow are usually something like this:

“What’s it like?”
“Where would I live?”
“What language do they speak?”
“Would I fit in?”
“Can my family live there?”

Anticipating questions in the overseas job hiring process

Hung Lee suggests using sites like Expat Arrivals to understand and prepare for the types of questions a candidate might ask. Include this information on your careers page and make it less about job listings and more of a relocation portal. Being knowledgeable about what candidates need to know during the overseas job hiring process, builds your credibility from the start.

Including your employees’ own relocation stories and encouraging candidates to speak with them during an international recruiting process also builds trust. It can be the difference between unanswered passive outreach and your next software developer.

This type of thinking is beneficial for companies at every level, whether you’re hiring someone 7,000 or 70 miles away.

Learn how Workable can help you in recruiting for overseas jobs.

It’s not all ‘passion’ and ping pong

Your career page and initial outreach can focus on so much more than the new ping pong table, a catered lunch or your specialist coffee selection. There’s more to say about your organization than everyone’s ‘passion’ for working there. There’s an entire city and your culture to display.

Even if your candidates are only moving a short distance, it’s always worth thinking ‘What are you going to do to make the transition easy for your latest hire?’ When the best international tech talent is being snapped up fast, if your organization isn’t thinking in this way, you can bet the competition is. Think about the bigger picture for candidates, and make sure they’re getting the best possible view.

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