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Directing recruitment abroad

Directing recruitment abroad

Searching for employees abroad must be systematic.

This section brings together the main stages of international recruitment and the related key notions according to the international recruitment guide produced by the Course towards Finland project coordinated by the ELY Centre Southwest Finland. The themes below offer an excellent step-by-step guide for recruiting from abroad.


Planning and phases of the recruitment process

Recruitment from abroad usually requires more planning than domestic recruitment. The definition of the job description and the ideal candidate, remuneration, communication related to the job search and the recruitment schedule may differ depending on whether you are recruiting workforce in Finland or abroad. The recruitment process can be divided in stages, for example, as follows:

  1. Process planning
  2. Determining the recruitment needs
  3. Budgeting
  4. Defining the job description
  5. Setting of requirements
  6. Scheduling
  7. Selection of partners
  8. Selection of destination country
  9. Presentation of the organisation and employer image
  10. Job application
  11. Job interview
  12. Selection process
  13. Recruitment decision
  14. Communication with the applicants

Determining the recruitment needs

When a company needs more labour resources, it often has many options. Often, you can find the worker within your company, or it may make more financial sense to get the resource by purchasing it as a service. If you decide to recruit a new employee, your company must decide what kind of person you want and where you could find them. Increasingly often, companies look for talent abroad.

Budgeting of recruitment

Hiring a new person always involves costs. When looking for an employee abroad, the recruitment process cost does not necessarily increase significantly. Still, when the employee moves to Finland from abroad, it is worth paying attention to the total costs of recruitment and seeking to anticipate them.

The recruitment process abroad may differ significantly in terms of overall costs. You may incur significant expenses in connection with travel and moving costs, residence permit costs, first month housing costs (often the employee is not able to find an apartment and secure a lease before arriving) and other costs related to arrival and settling in Finland.

On the other hand, to find the right expert and convince them, the company must invest more in the recruitment experience than usual. The recruitment process may well be the first experience of your company for a potential employee.

In terms of costs, it is essential to determine what charges the company is willing to reimburse, and which are borne by the employee. There are no legal obligations to compensate for the costs of setting up in or moving to Finland. Still, sometimes investments in the arrival, establishment and integration of the expert can be well justified.

For example, the employer can reimburse:

  • Residence permit and registration fees
  • Costs of moving
  • Travel costs
  • Services for settling into Finland
  • Language courses
  • Advice on administrative matters (taxes, etc.)
  • Expenses related to family members (permits, establishment, daycare, language courses, etc.)

Defining the job description

In the beginning, it is important to consider what you want the person to be recruited to do in the organisation. When it comes to international experts, it is worth reflecting on future needs and considering what the job profile will be, for example, in three years’ time. You also need to be aware that an international expert is likely to bring with them new perspectives, language skills and, for example, information about the market in their country of origin or previous country of work.

The job description also involves the question of what the employer offers to the employee. In the job interview, at the latest, you must be able to tell the applicant what kind of work community they are joining,  what your organisation is like and what kind of career prospects the employee can expect.

When defining the job description, bear in mind that the applicant may not have any understanding or knowledge of Finnish working life, your company’s operating culture or, for example, how people progress in their careers in Finland and what kind salary increases they may expect. The employer should also be prepared to tell about things that may seem self-evident, as everyday matters may seem surprising for someone coming from abroad. These factors can be significant when you are competing for talent.

Setting your requirements

Defining the skills required for a job is not always simple. It is often a good idea to start with defining the critical level of competence and thinking about the basic skills needed to perform well. In the case of applicants from abroad,  comparing different qualifications can be a challenge. Some professions require certain training and certification, as well as translation or recognition etc. of other documents, and this may delay starting work. Take this into account when planning when the employee can start working

Efforts have been made to harmonise qualifications in Europe, but there are still differences. Even if your prospective employee has studied in a university that you do not know the name or location, it does not  indicate that their education would be of a lower quality. The “fast” completion of higher education, on the other hand, does not necessarily mean exceptionally rapid performance, but differences in the education system. The opposite may also be true, as in some countries people move to working life earlier, and this delays their graduation from higher education.

Recognition and comparison of professional qualifications may also be difficult. In practice, demonstrated performance is often the only way to assess the competence of a prospective employee. In some cases, it is possible to assess skills even before the employee enters the country. On the other hand, as part of the recruitment process, you should think about the channels by which the employee could demonstrate their skills in practice.


Recruitment needs can sometimes be acute and often this means a shortened application period. In international recruitment, the time span is often longer, and careful scheduling gives the applicants sufficient time to familiarise themselves with the job posting and the employer. At the same time, an applicant from abroad must make a decision not only on wanting to work for a particular employer, but also on their willingness to move to a foreign country. The decision to apply may be life-changing from the applicant’s point of view.

Scheduling frame:

  1. Job advertisement
  2. Application period
  3. Interviews
  4. Recruitment decision
  5. Signing of employment contract
  6. Starting work

If the job ad is published internationally, the application period should be at least 3-4 weeks. It is advisable to indicate the interview schedule and the channel for additional questions already in the call for applications. The desired date for starting work is also important for the international applicant.

If, for example, suitability assessments are used to help recruiting, you should schedule them in advance and mention them in the job advertisement.

It is particularly important to identify the time the various formalities may take. Getting the residence permit and other entry documents, making the travel arrangements, etc., take a significant amount of time, so even after you find a suitable person, they may not be able to start work immediately.

Selection of partners

Sometimes it is helpful to use various additional services to support recruitment. Public employment services are provided by, for example, the EURES experts in the TE Offices and the ELY Centres. The Finnish Tax Administration and the Finnish Immigration Service have their international recruitment experts.

Sometimes it is also necessary to use aptitude assessments and skill level tests for workers from abroad. It is also possible to use recruitment agencies for finding employees from abroad. The services vary by region and also by destination country. Public services are a good first step in looking for employees abroad, and many staffing agencies are already offering international workforce alternatives.

Business Finland also offers services
To support foreign recruitment, you should also familiarise yourself with the TE-live service

Sometimes the strengths of a company in the recruitment market can be found inside the company. Integrated, happy and loyal employees can offer a direct route for finding international experts.

Job advertisement

The recruitment ad is perhaps the most critical element from the perspective of international recruitment. In addition to the content of the notification, the choice of the appropriate advertising channel is crucial for the success of the recruitment process.

There are several alternative channels available to the employer. While traditional media works better in Finland, you can approach foreign experts more easily, e.g., through social media marketing, LinkedIn app or other similar professional networks. A multichannel approach works best and targeting the job ad is important for reaching certain types of applicant profiles (ideal candidates).

The content of the notification must be clear, informative, and consistent with the organisational profile. Informativeness is essential, as the international applicant may not know as much about the company as a local applicant. A good tip is to write the job advertisement for a fictitious applicant who knows nothing about the company or its operating culture spelling out even obvious facts.

The ad informs the applicant about what the employer organisation is, what it does and what kind of position it is proposing. Use the writing style to communicate the organisation’s working culture and to attract interest in different types of candidates.

Unambiguous language is important, and the language must be chosen according to the type of applicant sought. It is also worth mentioning the working language in the advertisement, even if the call for applications is in another language.

The job ad must also provide the applicant with information about the various stages of the process. When will the interviews take place, when and how they can ask the employer questions, when you want the selected applicant to start the job, whether the employer offers support for moving and setting up, and whether other application steps are included in the recruitment process?

Selection of destination country

The starting point for choosing the destination country is finding the right expert. When selecting the country your recruitment will target, you must consider, among other things, by the size of the target area, the number of potential candidates having the desired level of competence, the salary level,  the equivalence between education systems, and also other differences between the target country and Finland. The choice of the country of destination is also significantly influenced by the job description, and, for example, your company’s future plans to expand their target market. In some countries, assistance is also available to organise recruitment, which may significantly facilitate the whole process (please pay attention to ethical principles). Good knowledge of the target country and language skills make it easier to conduct the recruitment process in the destination country.

Configuring the job application templates

In the process of international recruitment, the CV alone can hardly give sufficient information about the  applicant. In addition to the application and CV, it is advisable to consider alternative ways, such as video applications. The alternative ways can provide the applicant with a more meaningful way to communicate their skills, and at the same time the employer also gets a better understanding of the applicant’s motives, skills and even their temperament and personality. There are different platforms for video applications available, but you can also use YouTube videos.


Organising the job interview

Interview practices differ from country to country. From the perspective of the interviewee, the situation may also be unnerving, as it may be their first interview in a foreign language, a first interview with a foreign employer or both.

It is important to inform the interviewee about the main lines of the interview, such as time, place, duration, possible remote meeting platform and so on. It is worth mentioning the duration of the interview, as in other countries the interview can take even hours, while in Finland the interviews are usually relatively brief.

When interviewing remotely, it is good to test the functionality of the technology and ensure that all participants have the opportunity to use the same platform. It is a clever idea to send the applicant information about the interview and the instructions for the remote connection also by email.

From the employer’s point of view, you should prepare for the interview with an open mind. Most interviews run smoothly, but unstable network connections can cause problems, especially in some areas. A well-designed and pre-tested connection reduces the risk of failure, but sometimes network problems still occur.

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