There’s no doubt that the tech hiring market has cooled down from 2021’s record highs. However, hiring developers remains challenging: The rise of remote work post Covid-19 has constrained local talent pools as demand for software engineering talent increased worldwide. UK hiring teams have their work cut out if they want to sustain a strong talent pipeline.
In a recent webinar OfferZen hosted with Localyze, a panel of hiring and relocation experts talked about the best way to diversify your hiring efforts: casting your net a little wider. The session was moderated by Hung Lee (Editor at Recruiting Brainfood), featuring panellists Akbar Karenga (Director of Recruitment at Metafy and Founder of Maarusi), Katrina Hutchinson-O'Neill (CEO and Co-Founder of Join Talent) and Humza Hussain (UK Immigration Case Manager at Localyze).
They unpacked ready-to-hire opportunities across the globe, the major obstacles preventing companies from doing so, the misconceptions around relocating tech talent to the UK, and how companies can save time and reduce costs by hiring talent across borders.
Why it’s necessary to hire from new pools of tech talent
Employers in the UK are struggling with a competitive tech hiring market, Hung Lee confirmed:
“The current environment that the UK has found itself in is that we have a massive candidate shortage in a single market. This needs to be baked into how we operate now.”
Hiring teams no longer have the luxury of only picking local candidates. But which global talent pools offer untapped opportunities? Africa should be at the top of your radar, the panellists said. They highlighted the following countries specifically:
South Africa is a great prospect according to Hung, because of its large population size, high level of English language skills, and similar time zone to the UK. On a similar note, some European companies refer to North Africa as “the Metropol” for finding French-speaking talent, particularly in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Ghana and Nigeria have fast-growing tech scenes in a similar time zone to the UK, making them highly practical options for companies to consider when hiring remote talent.
The primary obstacles to tapping into Africa’s tech talent
Akbar suggested that one of the primary obstacles companies need to overcome to hire more talent from Africa is a “limiting belief on why or how to do it”. It’s an uphill battle to convince companies to explore African talent, Katria affirmed, largely due to preconceived notions about how to do so.
For Hung, the argument in favour of doing so is a simple one. “Africa is about five times the size of Europe,” he said. “It’s got nearly a billion people I believe, huge diversity, and lots of things going on.”
A hidden gem for finding top tech talent
The UK’s hiring numbers from Africa are low: Humza suggested that if he were to level it on a graph, “it’s currently towards the bottom, maybe even less than 1%”. This means that the number of people tapping into African talent is very poor. He added that in terms of actually relocating to the UK, recent trends suggest that it’s mainly other Europeans coming in. He called Africa a “total rarity” which makes it a great opportunity for employers to find new sources of talent.
Bridging the confidence gap within the hiring team
Akbar argued that it’s up to recruiters to shortlist the top global talent that they find and be innovative in how they present these options to a hiring manager.
“You control what people see at the hiring manager level. Find amazing people, and that’s what you present.”
Hung recommends utilising technology in how you approach this.
“If there are language concerns, it’s up to the recruiter to alleviate that. You can prove to the manager it’s not just a 2D CV. You can show them a recording of the interview you’ve conducted to hear for yourself what the quality of the language is or the communication level. We have the tooling to be able to plug some of these gaps.”
So how do you go about hiring global talent from the UK? There are two options available to you, each with its own benefits and methods to make it easier.
How UK companies can hire global tech talent
Hiring for fully remote roles
It’s easier than ever to hire fully remote employees following the shift to remote work, Katrina said: “The de-urbanisation of the economy as a result of COVID-19 has made it possible for people to earn great salaries and not have to be in a city centre. This is phenomenal to regenerate less invested-in areas.”
This is especially relevant for jobs that can be done without having to be in a physical location, including software development. Africa shares an overlapping time zone with Europe and the UK, she added, which helps with collaboration between remote teams.
Additionally, hiring for remote roles makes it possible to invest in the country, and can offer an appealing option for people who do not wish to relocate: “Where possible, I think it’s important to keep jobs in countries and have money going into those communities.”
You can make your offers more attractive by offering UK salaries to people based in South Africa or other countries, Katrina added. Since these are often higher salaries than what can be offered locally, it can provide a significant improvement in their standard of living.
Making fully remote hires is further helped by the rise of global payroll/Employer of Record (EOR) services that can reduce the complexity of cross-border hiring, Katrina explained. These services act as your employer in a region and handle all compliance and payroll on your behalf.
Relocating your tech talent to the UK
A second option for employers is to relocate their tech talent to the UK. Humza explained this is easier than many companies think. There’s a misconception that relocation to the UK is very difficult and requires a lot of admin and paperwork. The most important step is to apply for a sponsorship licence.
“Thanks to the sponsorship licence and the lenient approach taken by the Home Office it’s quite simple and straightforward [these days],” said Humza. The Home Office is committed to reducing the number of documents and procedures for employers to hire people abroad following Brexit, he added: “They want to make sure we get a good amount of migration in the UK.”
Once approved, it’s straightforward to apply for your new team member to relocate.
Contrary to popular belief, almost every business is able to apply for a sponsorship licence. Most companies will also have the required documents from setting up their business. For example, these documents include proof of a UK bank account, your company address and tenancy agreement, and your employer’s liability insurance.
How to reduce your time to hire global tech talent
Reducing the time it takes to hire global tech talent from inside the UK means adopting best practices to make it as seamless a process as possible.
Get referrals from candidates
Actively exploring new regions will offer you the best data on the exact skills that are available in that market.
“The more you do [it], the more you learn in terms of the populations that could really be a talent centre for you,” said Hung.
After a successful hire or two, it becomes possible to get referrals from the candidates themselves. These may even lead to new opportunities for the business.
“That’s what happened in Morocco with my company,” Akbar said. “We hired our first front-end developer from Casablanca, and then he referred three other people”. The result was faster expansion into the region. Hiring more people from the same countries also improves cultural fluency, reduces onboarding time and minimises costs related to internal resource allocation.
Using services to ease the hiring process
Hiring across borders and figuring out all the details within your team is complex. One option to overcome this barrier and reduce your time to start hiring, is using third-party services that enable cross-border hiring.
Some third-party services that make this process easier include:
- Global mobility services such as Localyze, assist with relocating new hires, as well as with visa changes, postings and transfers between offices. You can get 50% off on your first relocation process when signing up through OfferZen here.
- Global payroll/EOR services can handle payroll, benefits, taxes and compliance of hires in a new region on your behalf, which helps cut through the red tape of hiring across borders.
- Remote equipment services can assist you in equipping new hires globally, while staying compliant.
Read more about examples of these services and the various discounts available through OfferZen here.
- The Ultimate Developer Hiring Guide. This guide covers every aspect of the tech hiring process, from sending the first message, to interviewing and onboarding developers.
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