The ABCs of recruiting from overseas

When recruiting overseas, it’s best to follow the As, Bs and Cs… As there can be pitfalls and companies should be aware of them.

Many organisations like to bring in some overseas talent, either because there is a shortage of qualified candidates locally or to add some diversity and new thinking to their line-up.


Make sure you follow the below process when hiring from abroad.

The As: Your end

Australian citizens, New Zealand citizens and those with a valid working visa are eligible for employment. However, Australian employers are permitted to import overseas workers only if they cannot first fill the role with an Australian or New Zealand person. The Australian Department of Immigration provides a list of skills it considers to be in short supply, as well as a ceiling on how many skilled workers the country can import in each category.

Once a business has found there’s a vacancy and that an Australian or New Zealand citizen cannot fill it, the organisation needs to determine what type of visa the proposed position requires. The Australian government provides information about this through tools such as the SkillSelect website. Using SkillSelect offers the advantage that the person has already been approved to work locally and has demonstrated their commitment by gaining that approval.

Another option is to use a global recruitment company. This method has the added benefit that you end up with a shortlist of preselected candidates rather than having to vet them all in-house.

Once a business finds and decides on a suitable person, the next step is to initiate an Employer Nomination Scheme application.

Sponsoring an overseas worker can bring with it some serious and often complex obligations. The Department of Immigration provides a checklist of documents and processes.

The Bs: Their end

Many countries have different advertising standards and laws. Gaining overseas candidates requires making the opportunity attractive, but be careful not to gild the lily with ‘lifestyle’ or other promises over which the company has no control.

Potential employees can consider your advertising to be a promise under the law, and it can be difficult to know which jurisdiction you fall into – yours or theirs. Get your legal department to check any advertising first.

Countries often don’t recognise each other’s qualifications. You don’t want to get someone on board and discover they can’t legally do the job or have to wait for months or years while the bureaucratic fog clears. Find out first by looking into the Australian Government’s assessment of overseas qualifications website.

The Cs: Somewhere in the middle

Due diligence
Reference checks, identity and eligibility all become more difficult when recruiting overseas, but it’s more important than ever that they occur.

You can do preliminary screening from a distance, and you can even conduct interviews by phone or video chat, but sooner or later, most employers will want to meet face-to-face. Will you go there and conduct several interviews at once, or are you prepared to bring the top few candidates to you at your own expense?

Getting help
You can enlist the help of an immigration agent who is experienced in this process. However, the Department of Immigration warns that you should make sure to use an authorised agent, which you can find through the Migration Agents Registration Authority. If you are seriously thinking about recruiting overseas, you must do your homework or consider using a global recruitment company that already knows how to navigate the waters.

Tags: Hiring

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