Almost a year ago, I blogged about a possible new global recruiting trend emerging regarding a preference for local candidates over ex-pats. Today, I read another report that seems to confirm the trend in Asia: Western ex-pats are no longer the “most desired” candidates for management positions.
Companies want to hire managers who have a deep understanding of the local cultural norms. In most cases, that means Asian natives who have been US- or European-educated. According to the article I referenced above, both Spencer Stuart and Korn/Ferry acknowledge that these highly desirable candidates are difficult to attract and retain.
So, what’s a global recruiter to do?
First, acknowledge the shift. If you have been supplying Western ex-pats for executive roles in Asia, understand that the “ex-pat era” may be over.
Second, start figuring out how you are going to find Asian-native candidates, with US or European educations, who have grown up in an Asian culture, and are currently living there. Yes, this will be difficult. That’s what you get paid for. And here’s a hint: technology won’t help you. The best job board in the world can’t screen for cultural competence.
My recommendation? You need a partner, maybe an executive search network. Professional recruiting help “on the ground” – in the local market, working the local market – to source those hard-to-find candidates and get them in front of your client. Don’t try to do this on your own. There are at least as many cultural considerations in Asia as there are countries, many of them wildly different from Western customs. Do you have time to learn everything you need to know about Singapore? Malaysia? China? Hong Kong? Korea? Vietnam? If not, your best bet is working with a local recruiting partner, on a split-fee basis.
What do you find to be the hardest part about finding candidates in another country?