By Debbie MillinAugust 2019
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At a recent gathering of executives in Boston, nearly everyone I spoke with mentioned the “war for talent.” With so much venture capital and private equity pouring into our city’s tech companies, Boston-based executives are facing an unprecedented job crisis. Unprecedented because it’s not actually jobs that are in short supply – it’s qualified candidates to fill them.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 7.3 million jobs open nationwide. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 3.6% earlier this year — the lowest it’s been since December 1969. These two factors alone mean that there are currently more open jobs in the U.S. than there are available candidates, completely putting aside qualifications and expertise. Mix in demographic considerations, like baby boomers retiring and young people choosing alternate paths from traditional employment, and it’s clear that the war for talent will be a long one.
Suffice it to say, a good hire is hard to find. This is especially true depending on how narrow or wide your vision is of the talent pool. Top talent is out there if you know how (or where) to look.
In today’s globalized commercial world, international and remote employees and teams are more the norm than the exception. While there are many strategic reasons companies expand globally, one of the most common reasons is to find new talent or fill talent gaps. Companies are no longer forced to limit themselves to local talent when hiring, just like employees often can work from wherever they choose. Sophisticated communications technology has unlocked collaboration in the Midwest – outside key cities — across borders, often instantaneously and in real time. Document-sharing software and project-management platforms keep international teams aligned and on task. IT security and network protection bolster end-to-end connections, so employees can work securely from anywhere.
Together, these tools expand the available hiring pool past the traditional boundaries of “commutable distance.” Globalizing the workforce is ultimately also good for American employees; the highest value jobs often stay in the US, near HQ, whereas sales jobs overseas simply mean more growth for American companies. This drives up the salaries paid to employees in the US.
Simultaneously, these tools also help qualified candidates who are looking for their next gig, since they don’t need to move to find good jobs anymore. This is a good trend, considering the Boston Consulting Group’s 2018 survey of 366,000 people in 197 countries found “a decline in the desire to work abroad.”
Considering that people can work from anywhere, and the desire to emigrate for work is down, isn’t it time to go where the people are? As the Boston Consulting Group points out in their Decoding Global Talent report:
“One of the big opportunities in an interconnected world is the ability to access needed skills even when the skills don’t exist, in the required quantity, at home. Technology companies have been particularly forward-thinking about this, bringing difficult-to-fill jobs to where the experts are, rather than asking the experts to come to where they are. Apple and Google are among the many international technology companies that have opened R&D facilities in the digital-talent ‘hot spot’ of Tel Aviv…”
It’s time to reset traditional expectations on where talent can be found and what it looks like.
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