This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Hiring employees can be a difficult and time-consuming process, but is fairly straightforward. The same is true for hiring international employees specifically, although you will have certain considerations in mind as you go through the process of determining the type of worker you need, creating and posting a job description, interviewing and evaluating candidates, and making your offer. Those considerations include visa restrictions and available work hours.
Each international hire is unique so your company may not encounter those specific challenges, or you may encounter a host of others. That’s not to say you shouldn’t hire overseas employees if it’s in your business’s best interest. You just need to be ready for some extra hurdles.
Step 1: Determine the Type of Worker to Hire
Just as with domestic hiring, the type of international employee you choose to hire is an important factor. When hiring, many small businesses choose to partner with independent contractors for specific projects instead of hiring an employee. You can do the same with international workers. A great place to find both domestic and international independent contractors is on Upwork.
Hiring an international independent contractor has its benefits. The individual worker is responsible for reporting their income to their government, not you. You simply make a payment to them, and they handle the rest under their home country’s laws.
Be aware that the same rules apply to international independent contractors as for domestic ones. So, you cannot cross the line of making an independent contractor an employee by giving them a schedule, telling them what to work on, and generally supervising their work. If you take those actions, the individual is most likely an employee (more on this later).
If the worker you want to hire is not a US citizen and is only working in their home country, you will not need to worry about getting a visa. However, you may need to obtain a visa for the worker if you need them to be present in your office or when you’re hosting an in-person company event or retreat in the US.
Your international employee cannot enter the US as a visitor if they’re here for business purposes or staying for an extended period of time. Your employee would be considered a nonimmigrant worker for the duration of their stay in the US, so you would need to get a visa for them. You may also have to change the way you pay them while they’re physically present in the country, as they may become subject to additional taxes. If the person you choose to hire is a US citizen living abroad or they hold dual citizenship, they will be able to enter and exit the country freely.
You’ll need to be prepared for either situation. Be careful during the hiring process, however, about asking questions about citizenship. You cannot directly ask an applicant if they are a US citizen.
Step 2: Creating a Job Description & Posting a Job Ad
Writing a job description is crucial to hiring the right employee, knowing how their skills match up with what you need, and holding the employee accountable to stated tasks. When you write a job description, make sure you’re including required skills, education, and brief details about the projects or work the employee will do. Include a brief discussion selling your company. Why would someone want to work for you? What benefits do you offer? What sets your company apart from the competition?
After you’ve written a clear job description, it’s time to post the job ad. You may be unsure where to post your job ad when hiring international employees. However, you may already use job boards that can help you attract international candidates. ZipRecruiter, Indeed, LinkedIn, and other major job boards allow you to post jobs for international hires.
One of the easiest, simplest, and most efficient ways to attract international workers is on Upwork. Upwork is a freelance and hiring platform used in over 170 countries. You can post your job ad on Upwork, targeting specific countries, and choose whether you want to work with a freelancer or make a hire. Candidates can find you, and you can also search to try and find candidates you want to interview.
Step 3: Evaluate Candidates & Interview With International Details in Mind
Interviewing is always a crucial part of the hiring process. The interview allows you the opportunity to ask about the candidate’s skills and get a feel for their personality and how they’ll fit into your company culture. Hiring international employees requires you to be more focused during the interviews and consider additional aspects.
Many companies have moved toward a remote or hybrid work environment, and hiring remote workers presents its own challenges. Having employees that may be seven, eight, or even 12 time zones away creates logistical problems. Understand what your requirements are:
- Will this employee need to work US hours?
- Will this employee need to be flexible and join team meetings during their night hours?
- How will your company coordinate with the employee on events that may be outside of their normal working hours?
Beyond that, you’ll also need to consider technological issues:
- Does the employee have stable internet access?
- Will you provide them with a computer and other electronic equipment?
- How will you troubleshoot technical issues, especially if your domestic team is sleeping?
When you’re interviewing candidates, you can ask questions about their flexibility to attend team meetings. You can also pay attention to their internet connection and see if their video is choppy or freezes. While you shouldn’t eliminate a candidate based on unstable internet alone, it’s good information for you to have when deciding on a new hire who will work entirely remotely from abroad.
Step 4: Make a Job Offer
Now that you have figured out which applicant you want to hire, it’s time to make a formal job offer. While it’s usually best to make a soft offer by calling the candidate, giving them the good news, and discussing any final details like start date and salary, doing that for an overseas employee may be impractical. If you are unable to speak with the new hire before sending a formal offer to them, be prepared for at least some back and forth negotiation, especially on salary.
In the offer letter, make sure you include the job title, start date, benefits, salary, and the full job description. Also include a timeline for them to sign and return the letter to you, generally around one week. Because the person you’re hiring lives in another country, using secure online signature software is your best bet to make this process smooth and efficient. Upload the offer letter to the software and send it to the chosen candidate. Once they return the signed letter to you, begin your onboarding process.
Legal & Operational Considerations
Besides the actual process of interviewing and hiring an international employee, there are operational considerations, some of which were briefly alluded to above. Here we discuss in more detail.
Pros & Cons of Hiring International Employees
|Enter an international market||Possible extra costs for hiring internationally|
|Larger candidate pool||May have challenges supervising work from a great distance|
|May be able to hire employees for less than you’d pay in the US||Could be subject to international taxation|
|Ability to have local employees service local customers||International employee may have vastly different working hours|
Today’s distributed workforce makes hiring international employees more common, but there are still hurdles to overcome. Traditional laws and regulations need to be adhered to, both domestically and abroad. If you’re looking to hire international employees, it can greatly expand your candidate pool and could be just the step you need to help your business get to the next level.