As the world's economy emerges from the Great Recession it is fairly clear, at least to me, that HR in large to medium-sized companies will have to emphasize international recruitment much more than they did before the crisis.

Most of the world's MNCs have their headquarters in the US, Europe or Japan but the world's economy is highly unbalanced right now, with much of the growth and consequential career opportunities happening in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India & China). Meanwhile the developed countries stagnate, for a while longer at least.

In order to take advantage of the opportunities in the emerging markets, companies will have to hire local professionals in those markets, bring them back to the HQ so they can develop a business network at the highest level, and then send them back to the market to take over the business.

MNCs always knew this was the right way to go but for many companies the institutional barriers to making the change were very high. The smaller majors were especially susceptible to this problem because they often resembled large German, US, Japanese or French companies rather than true global players.


The indicators of a shift are there already. Expatriates from the developed countries will be, and are being, transferred back to their home country. It's not an either/or choice but the balance has shifted away from the expatriates, and towards locals. The fact that I have attended more Expatriate Exit parties in the last two years than I have in the last 15 years in total, is testament to the changes that have been brought about by the recent economic crisis.

The changes driving localization are everywhere. For example, Brazil is likely to enter a 10-year consumer boom as it hosts both the Olympics and World Cup over the next few years. As the Brazilian population moves into the middle class, creating a whole new market for consumer goods, success will be achieved by those companies that can take the plunge and hire a qualified local Brazilian. Expatriates just don't stay long enough to follow the boom.

China is also going through a similar transformation as it's population moves en masse into the cities. The changes appear obvious on the surface, as anyone who has been there will testify. You can see massive changes in infrastructure and building stock in the space of a week. But the real changes are subtle and hidden, at the sociological and psychological level. Only a local can truly understand the changes because they are the ones living them.

To help drive a deeper understanding of the issues in international hiring I have set up an International Hiring group on Recruitingblogs. This group is open to HR professionals in developed markets, who recruit overseas, or those who are hiring outside their home country i.e. someone working in Germany or Japan but originally from the US or Australia.

All are welcome to join.

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