International recruitment: 3 considerations when recruiting internationally

Is local market knowledge the primary factor for success, or are there other, more crucial elements to consider?

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Karsten Hald Pedersen

Director, Interntional Business, United Kingdom


+44 (0) 755 776 0682

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For many Danish companies with international subsidiaries, it may seem obvious that when they need to find an employee for one of their foreign branches, they should use a local headhunter to solve the task. But in a globalised world where the distances between us in general, and between employees and managers in particular, seem to be shrinking, is this always the most effective strategy? Is local market knowledge the primary factor for success, or are there other, more crucial elements to consider?

In this article, we uncover 3 considerations that are important when it comes to international recruitment.

Local recruitment partner? Benefits, challenges, and the importance of cultural insight

Danish companies with international subsidiaries face a number of unique challenges when it comes to recruitment. Recruitment is already a costly process that requires time and resources. If the recruitment fails or the new hire doesn’t thrive in their position, costs can rise significantly. A professional headhunter can often save companies time and resources and help avoid hiring mistakes.

If you want to ensure that your new manager becomes part of the company rather than just getting to know it, maximising the chances of success for both the manager and the organisation, you should look into integration.

Why the leader employment fails

But what makes a local headhunter particularly attractive? Besides the general benefits of using a headhunter, they have a deep understanding of the local job market in the specific country or city where the company’s branch is located. They know the culture and networks and can often quickly identify the best candidates for specific positions.

Compass has been in the recruitment industry for over 35 years, and we’ve handled more than 80 international recruitments outside the Nordics in recent years. Based on our experience, we know that local market knowledge is not always enough. For many international organisations with offices spread across the globe, the native culture of the parent company plays a key role that cannot be underestimated. Their company culture is an essential part of their mission and vision. Many organisations want this culture to be reflected in all their departments, including international ones. This is where a local recruitment partner can face challenges. We often find that they will handle the recruitment based on their local cultural context, but struggle to understand the culture of the parent company. This could present challenges that may hinder the successful completion of the recruitment assignment for the parent company.

Consideration 1: Trust and cultural insight trumps local market knowledge

Our customers realise that recruitment is a resource-intensive process. They are looking for employees with deep expertise and specific competences that can be hard to find. For this reason, they choose to invest in a professional headhunter. It’s essential for them to find the right candidate who is not only a professional fit but also a cultural fit for their organisation. This requires the headhunter to understand not only the task at hand, but also the culture of the organisation. Our clients must be able to trust that their headhunter represents them in the best way possible.

Over the recent years, we’ve successfully managed numerous international recruitments, for example for Power Stow, who we have been collaborating with since 2019. Learn more about our partnership here:

Case: The power of an international recruitment mindset

Power Stow: The success behind strong international collaboration

Christian Søeberg, CCO at Power Stow, has worked closely with Karsten Hald Pedersen, Director and Practice Lead for International Business at Compass HRG. Christian Søeberg has this to say about the important trust:

When I work with Karsten, I know that he represents both me and our company in the best possible way. I fully trust that he is acting with our best interests in mind. This trust takes time to build and is crucial for me, especially when it comes to international hires. If I were to start over with another local headhunter, that person would not know about Power Stow, me as a person, or our unique Danish leadership culture. I save time and effort by working with Karsten. I can’t predict how another local headhunter would represent us.

Our experience shows that the trust and cultural understanding we offer in collaboration with our clients often exceeds the market knowledge of local headhunters. What really counts is not just knowledge of the local market. It’s also the ability to build trust, an understanding of how to appeal to candidates across markets, cultural curiosity and humility, and the ability to focus on what’s important and separate it from what’s less relevant – such as language nuances.

Consideration 2: The value lies in being able to navigate between the international and the local

In addition to trust and cultural understanding, which we consider crucial for recruitment success – especially international recruitment – there is an additional nuance that plays a key role. When we look at an international Danish company, the challenge is not just to find a candidate who looks very much like a Dane. Rather, as a headhunter, it’s about mastering the ability to balance the local and the international – a trait that is also essential for the ideal candidate.

“My goal is to put together an international team that each thrives in the local markets and at the same time represents our company culture and is familiar with our Danish values. It is crucial that they can act as cultural bridge builders, understand the local market and act accordingly. At the same time, they must be able to vouch for our international standards. For example, it would be counterproductive to recruit a skilled salesperson from Bangkok if that person cannot promote our products internationally in the way we stand for,” says Christian Søeberg.

The ability to navigate seamlessly between different cultures is essential – both for the candidates we’re looking for and for us as headhunters.

Consideration 3: Remote recruitment is a litmus test for remote management  

The final consideration we want to highlight is the link between remote recruitment and remote management. Our experience and dialogue with international clients indicates that candidates who actively use international recruitment platforms and are comfortable communicating with a headhunter many kilometres away will also thrive in a company where the management – or parts of it – is located at a Danish parent company.

Christian Søeberg puts it this way: “I expect the candidate I’m looking for to be familiar with platforms like LinkedIn. The right person for my team should be able to be found internationally and not just through a local advert in the local language. The ideal candidate has an international focus. It makes sense that a candidate who can be managed remotely can also be recruited remotely.”

Christian elaborates: “When we look for people to join our international sales team, I want people who are motivated to work for a Danish company in an international context and who can interact with an international headhunter. A local headhunter may have a good relationship with a local candidate that he has found, but he can’t necessarily assess whether the person has an international mindset. I would therefore have to delve into this when I meet the candidate in the later stages of the recruitment process. This can result in unnecessary time consumption for everyone involved.”

Overall, international recruitment involves more than just understanding the local market; international recruitment requires trust, cultural insight, the ability to balance local and international needs, and the ability to navigate distance management and recruitment. These considerations are essential to ensure the right candidates are found and thrive in international organisations.


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