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Half struggle to hire candidates with 'international outlook'

The majority of employers considered foreign language skills to be important for employability

Almost half (46%) of HR managers struggle to find good candidates with an international outlook, according to research from business school, university, multinational company and NGO partnership CEMS, and its corporate partner Universum.

The HR managers polled reported the major challenges to be employees understanding a new culture (48%), culture shock (24%) and language or communication issues (16%). Other global mobility issues raised included problems with finding a position when employees return (repatriation), high costs for the company and visa issues.

The research involved in-depth interviews with 80 global HR managers, half of whom were based in Europe. Over half were from major companies with over 1,000 employees.

One in seven (14%) HR managers from larger organisations said that over 30% of managers within their company work internationally (out of their home country).

When it came to finding the right candidate with an international outlook, 87% of respondents considered foreign language skills to be important. Three quarters (74%) of European HR managers stated that hiring from different countries leads to a diverse working atmosphere.

Roland Siegers, executive director of CEMS, said that the research shows global mobility is “very much on the agenda” for HR professionals. “Despite this, many still say they have some trouble recruiting the right global profiles,” he said. “Respondents also identify the many challenges involved with placing employees internationally, including cultural awareness and language barriers.

“In a time of global challenge the world requires internationally educated, inspired leaders and employees, who can build bridges across the divides that separate us and who are globally-minded, while sensitive enough to know when it is appropriate to act locally.

“Because of this, and in light of these findings, companies need to invest in employees and managers to make sure they are equipped with the skills to operate globally,” he added.