Nicole Sahin

How Important is Your First Hire in a New Country?

by Nicole Sahin
September 2019
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The short answer to that question is probably obvious. It’s pretty important.

In helping companies expand internationally all over the world, I have seen firsthand what causes some teams to flourish and others to struggle. Hiring the right employee for your first hire in a country is extremely important and it may end up requiring more time and energy than you originally thought, but, it’s time well spent.

Investing the effort to find a quality professional in a new country who aligns with your organization’s core values will set the stage for your local company culture. This first hire will inevitably impact the way that team or office is run, and will increase the rate at which it will grow in the future. I have built my company one person at a time, with the belief that good people become the lifeblood of a fast-growing enterprise wherever you are in the world.

I’m happy to share some of the insights I have gleaned over time while building my business in multiple countries, in the hopes that it helps you pick the right person when you are expanding your business in new and exciting places.

Your New In-Country Team Will Set the Tone

Building out teams internationally not only provides new revenue and business opportunities, but it is a unique opportunity to enhance your company’s culture. To this point, forward-thinking and quality talent is key. It is essential to evaluate a new hire’s potential to grow within the company and to envision what their employment lifecycle will look like. These first hires will set the tone of your local company culture and will influence the long-term growth of your organization in that country and in general. The success of your global expansion strategy will depend on them. It is critical to have a strong hiring strategy in place, one that clearly promotes your company’s core values to assure you find the right fit. In short – make sure these hires reflect your company’s energy, passion and ethics. Any hires that come later will look to these tenured employees for behavioral cues.

Attributes to Look for When Hiring in a New Country

Utility Players

Aside from the experience and skill set required to do a job, your first hires in a new country will likely need to wear multiple hats. They need to be willing to take on tasks that go above and beyond the responsibilities found in their job description. We call these unique professionals “utility players,” and it is crucial to have people on your staff who can evolve in ways you could never have predicted when you hired them. These team members will provide your company with the valuable flexibility needed as you are growing, and in turn allow your team to advance their own professional careers.

Look for candidates who are problem solvers, have a history of jumping in to get the job done and know how to navigate through problems in a variety of disciplines. Also, assessing their social skills and how well they work with others will be an important indicator for their overall growth potential within the company, and for their capacity to help you build out your teams down the road.


Regardless of how senior the role, look for leadership qualities in professionals that will advance both the company’s goals and their own position. They should demonstrate that they don’t need to be micro-managed with constant guidance and handholding. A true leader maximizes the efforts of others for the greater good, with strong leadership stemming from social influence, not authority or power. I tell every new hire in a country that I expect all leaders in my company to “lead” by inspiring and mentoring—I do not believe in the “control and command” authoritarian style of management.


In recent years, studies have shown that non-homogeneous teams are simply smarter. It completely makes sense—working with people who are different from you challenges your brain to overcome its ingrained ways of thinking and sharpen its performance.

From a pure business perspective, diverse teams are proven to be more productive and more profitable—exactly what you need in a company experiencing rapid growth and expanding into new countries. And if that’s not convincing enough, there are a multitude of studies showing that candidates today are looking for diversity when searching for a job. The diversity of your team has now become just as important to employees as it is to the company itself.

Prioritizing Engagement

Once you source your exceptional local talent, you want to keep them with you. Here are a few strategies that we have utilized at Globalization Partners as we’ve grown:

  • Get creative with your benefits. It’s often difficult for growing businesses to offer massive benefit packages that will draw in new candidates—so think outside of the box.
  • Hold on-site trainings (at headquarters, if possible) to start your new out-of-country team member off on the right foot and give them a sense of your company culture from the start.
  • Create opportunities to engage all team members by holding weekly department meetings and monthly all-staff meetings to keep everyone up to date on activities across the company.
  • Stick to regular reviews and constant conversations. Hold quarterly reviews at the very least, because things change quickly when you’re growing rapidly. It allows managers to give immediate feedback and gives an opportunity for employees to express interest in other areas and align goals for the next quarter to help support their interests.

Every hire is critical in your organization, especially with your first hire in a country. Most managers and business leaders don’t have the luxury of making a lot of mistakes. Investing the time and energy it takes to create exceptional teams will set the tone of your local company culture for years to come and greatly impact your chances for success. Good products and services make things possible, but good people make things happen!

You find the candidate. We find the way.

Globalization Partners’ Global Expansion Platform™ enables you to hire in more than 170 countries within days, and without the need to set up costly International subsidiaries. You identify great talent anywhere in the world, and we put them on our fully compliant global payroll—lifting the burden of global corporate tax, legal, and HR matters from your shoulders to ours.

Globalization Partners: we make global expansion fast and easy—get in touch with us today.

For more information regarding hiring and managing global talent, download our Global Hiring Handbook here:

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Nicole Sahin

Nicole Sahin

CEO, Globalization Partners

CEO Nicole Sahin’s mission is to make it easy for any company to expand into any country as easily as they hire team members in the United States. Her current focus is building the world’s most competent and trustworthy Global PEO to meet the standards of the company’s Fortune 500 clients. She led Globalization Partners to a ranking of No. 33 on the 2017 Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies in America, No. 6 on the 2016 Inc. 500 list, has been named Entrepreneur of the Year in New England, and has won numerous awards for breaking the traditional corporate mold by building a nationally-recognized company culture.

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