Should you use a recruiter in another country? Or, stay local?

Should you use a recruiter in another country? Or, stay local?

90% of New Era’s clients are not in the UK. To many, this would come as a shock. We notice that many of our competitors restrict themselves to only serving clients locally. I can see why some recruitment firms would choose to do this (working closer to home feels comfortable, and many companies don’t like change!). But, on the other side of the table, would a hiring company prefer to use a local recruiter, or an international recruiter?



The arguments for using a local recruiter are fairly simple, and obvious. For argument’s sake, let’s assume all capabilities/competencies other than location remain equal. When using a local recruiter, hiring companies will be able to meet their recruitment supplier face to face, and can feel fairly confident that this supplier will be meeting candidates face to face, too. What are the other benefits of using a local recruiter? Well, with a long track record in the local area, they will surely have a deeper network of local candidates – right? Well, not really. Twenty years ago, this would be the case. Today, with far-reaching social and professional media/networking platforms, the reach of a recruitment supplier depends heavily on which (and how many of) professional networking platforms they are using – more on this later.


Before working through the benefits of using an international recruiter, let’s first take a look at the (perceived) drawbacks. The obvious stumbling block is that an international recruiter won’t be meeting candidates face to face. This puts a lot of hiring companies off, but the reality is that even local recruiters often won’t meet their candidates. Why? Because with modern technology (Teams/ZOOM!) we can easily conduct video interviews, meaning less time away from direct work on the assignment (travelling to/from candidate meetings) and more time working on creating value for the client by continually searching. This topic is of digital vs face-to-face meetings is heavily debated. Within recruitment, the task of the recruiter is to find the best candidate for the job (often within tight time constraints). This involves screening and interviewing many (sometimes hundreds) of candidates. This just isn’t possible if the recruiter is travelling to every candidate. If they are meeting every candidate, they will miss people, and hence they are bleeding value away from the assignment by potentially missing out on the best candidates.


Why else would a hiring company not want to use an international recruiter? The price point is often higher. Fundamentally, companies who cost-cut their hiring process run the risk of not sourcing the best talent (and their bottom line will suffer). All recruitment companies are not the same – far from it. Is the higher price point worth it? Keep reading…


So, what are the upsides to choosing an international recruitment partner? Firstly, when using an international recruiter, the hiring company has access to candidates outside the local region. This will include a lot of potential hires who would happily relocate for a particular opportunity.


Secondly, employees of international recruitment firms typically work very long hours – this is to accommodate the time-zone differences between them and their clients/candidates. Employees who are willing to work these hours and typically very motivated and will go the extra mile. This doesn’t mean to say that a local recruiter won’t share this same passion, but on balance it is safe to assume that those who choose to work inside an international recruitment firm versus a local firm are doing so with their eyes wide open. They choose the tougher work-life balance because their careers are extremely important to them. This passion translates directly in to the work they carry out for their clients.


What else? Well, when recruiting for a company in another country which has explicitly expressed a concern about the geographical disparity, all eyes are on the recruiter to perform. Everybody knows that the underdog will work very hard to prove their worth. New Era has recently sought out feedback from our international clients on how they feel we dealt with the assignments given that we were based elsewhere. All of the feedback so far has been excellent.


When recruiting internationally, a recruiter’s level of capability to complete an assignment is limited by their access to/usage of professional networking platforms. With this in mind, a (pragmatic) international recruiter will ensure he/she has the highest level of subscription to important platforms (like LinkedIN). For example, LinkedIN Recruiter gives access to the entire LinkedIN network. A local recruiter who is relying on their competitive advantage of being able to meet candidates locally (and placing less emphasis on upscaling their professional networking presence/reach) will lose out to those who are reaping the benefits of the more expensive networking packages. This doesn’t mean to say that local recruiters won’t have both, but you can rest assured that an international recruiter will have these important networking tools at their disposal – they are vital for the international recruiter’s success.


If we go even deeper, a significant value driver of an international recruiter is experience. I’m not talking about how many years’ of experience a recruiter has. I am talking about diversity of experience. A local recruiter is less likely to have experience of an unusual situation. For example, New Era has recently made many placements with a large Contract Research Organization which has recently gone through an aggressive inorganic growth phase (multiple acquisitions/restructuring). During this process, we have provided advice on how to tackle critical hires for the company in each new location/country. It has been a complex, yet very educational process for us. With this experience, we can now advise other firms going through similar mergers/acquisitions on their hiring agenda. Is a local recruiter less likely to have this experience? Probably.


In summary – should you choose to hire a local or international recruiting firm? It depends what you’re looking for – value, or tradition?