The demand for great developers still outstrips the number of available candidates. If you want to hire the best developers, looking beyond your own borders is a necessity. We spoke to the hiring team at Mobiquity, about their team’s global expansion to multiple regions. We’ll unpack the expansion strategy that’s helped them hire an international tech team fast, and share their steps to succeed as a business in new regions.
2021’s worldwide tech talent boom led to the ‘hottest hiring market ever’. Since then, the market’s cooled down. However, the market remains competitive — hiring software developers hasn’t suddenly become easy.
Demand still outnumbers supply in local markets, and there’s a need for quality software across industries. Remote trends are here to stay and have changed the hiring landscape: tech companies across the globe are eyeing the same pool of talent.
This means it’s necessary to change your focus from local to global in order to tap into the best talent. But what is the best global expansion strategy for you?
Here’s how digital consultancy Mobiquity approached it by establishing local entities in their new hiring locations, as well as their learnings on successfully expanding to new regions.
Why Mobiquity needed to expand internationally
Mobiquity is a digital consultancy and part of the IT service company Hexaware. Its mission is to help clients move away from legacy tech by building compelling digital products from inception to implementation.
Since being founded in 2011, the company has expanded from their European headquarters in the Netherlands and established local entities in Australia, the United Kingdom, and South Africa, among other places.
Mobiquity’s demand for new talent was a driving factor for its expansion.
“The capacity in any given market is limited, and the availability of certain skills can differ widely between markets. At some point, you will experience your hiring slowing down. Then you need to find more opportunities to meet the goals and demands of the business,” says Daria Mikolaevskaia, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Mobiquity.
Having clients across the globe means it often helps to have employees in place in those locations:
“Clients might dictate that they want specific people in certain locations or want to have people working on-site,” Daria explains. “Cost is also a major factor. In different locations, the cost of employment is different, so it might be more cost-effective to hire people in other locations.”
These factors led to them using local entities in new locations to hire their teams across borders. They could also take advantage of having a parent company during their expansion. When expanding to Australia, South Africa, and the UK, Mobiquity were able to use Hexaware’s entities to do their hiring.
The advantages of having global hiring teams
According to Daria, there is a twofold advantage to having hiring teams in place in the majority of their locations.
“If the time zones of your hiring locations start to differ, it’s really hard to hire if your team are in only one of those time zones. You need to deliver on time, especially if some roles are more urgent than others. That’s one important reason we have hiring teams in our different locations.”
Secondly, she says that it’s easier to start building hiring teams that have experience with a particular market. This helps with hiring on time, getting good-quality candidates, and maintaining their pipelines in different markets.
The benefit of establishing local business entities when hiring internationally
Once you have an established core team and looking to expand, one option is to open a new legal business entity in that location.
“One benefit of doing so is the perception of stability”, says Daria.
“From a candidate perspective, if the company hiring them has its own entity in the region, it helps make the offer more attractive because it looks very stable. There’s less potential confusion about matters like who will be paying their salary, for example, it’s straightforward to have these things done through your own entity.”
Zeynep Tunalioğlu, Recruitment Manager at Mobiquity, also thinks there’s a long-term benefit to handling payroll and compliance aspects yourself.
“There’s definitely a high barrier of entry when you first open a local entity since there’s a lot of initial costs involved. But after it’s done, it’s less complex to employ new team members as you scale.”
Making use of an Employer of Record
Establishing a new legal business entity can take some time. Another option when hiring across borders is using an Employer of Record (EOR) to handle the compliance aspects of hiring for you.
Daria explains this can be an especially great choice for a startup.
“When you’re rapidly growing as a startup, you want to focus on growing your product quickly,” she says. “It’s not always efficient from a cost or strategy perspective to open an entity straight away because it can take time, and there are lots of legal aspects to consider.
In these cases, I think using a middleman for expansion is a nice way to solve the problem. Once you grow up a bit more as a company, you can start looking at opening entities.”
Steps to succeed in new markets
If your business is thinking of expanding internationally, here are some steps that helped Mobiquity grow in new markets.
1. Research the market
Conducting thorough research into the new region is crucial to determine if it makes sense for a business to expand there.
“How are you supposed to hire people if you don’t know what you will be faced with? Doing your research and benchmarking is super important to become competitive in the market,” says Daria.
You should aim to get answers on the following, she says:
- What are the primary skills in the market — this is especially important when hiring for tech roles.
For example, when Mobiquity expanded to South Africa, they had to establish which skills were common in the country. In her experience, good quality .NET and PHP developers were common, while it was harder to find specialists in Node.js.
- What are the average salary ranges for the roles you’re interested in?
- What benefits do candidates in these markets typically receive, and which benefits are regulated by law? For example, how you incorporate health insurance into an offer might be regulated in certain markets.
- What levels of seniority are you hiring for, and how might that affect where you source candidates? For example, if you’re hiring junior developers, you’ll need to know the universities in the area.
- In order to build diverse teams, what groups and communities are present in the country that you can tap into when hiring?
- Who are your competitors in the new market?
Tips for conducting your research and benchmarking
- Involve third parties for help: Daria recommends partnering up with local companies or agencies that can give insights into a new market. In Mobiquity’s case, they signed up to OfferZen when they expanded to South Africa. This meant they could get access to local market data and benchmarks to help them get started with the hiring process.
- Use tools such as local job boards and competitors’ job ads to get a sense of common salary ranges for a given role.
- Use candidates as a data source: Don’t be afraid to ask candidates for input during your hiring process.
“The data you can gather from candidates around competitors, salaries and benefits is a very valuable source of information,” says Daria. “If you’re not asking these questions, you’re losing out. It can also help inform how you structure packages. Be upfront with candidates and follow a human approach. If you say, ‘sorry, I don’t know much about this aspect yet, can you tell me more?’, I’ve found that people respond very well to that type of transparent approach.”
2. Establish your brand
“Being unknown in a new market is an added challenge,” says Zeynep. Here are a few methods she recommends to grow in a market where your brand is unknown:
Start localised brand awareness campaigns on social media platforms and professional networks such as LinkedIn.
Get referrals and join communities: As a starting point, your new employees in a region can be a great source of referrals to build your team through word of mouth. You can also join local communities to build your connections.
For example, Mobiquity eventually had team members that actually lived in South Africa and Australia, two of their newest markets. Those employees referred people in their networks and helped the company make more hires.
“Those people would likely not have heard of us in any other way than word of mouth,” says Zeynep.
3. Take care of your remote teams
“Once you have team members in a new region that are working remotely for your company headquarters, it’s crucial to offer proper support for them,” says Zeynep.
“That can be a challenge, especially if you have, for example, three hundred employees in one location but four in another,” she adds. “It’s hard to strike that balance. But you need to make sure you’re keeping all your team members engaged and happy and transmit your culture to them.”
Some ways to achieve this include:
- Arranging exchanges, where your remote employees travel to your headquarters or you visit them. For example, when Mobiquity expanded to Sydney, they arranged a 2-week, cross-country exchange programme.
- Arranging regular team events, the same way you would for employees in other locations.
- Have a remote-first onboarding process where everybody can join every step of the programme, regardless of location. This will help all your employees get the same sense of your culture and help no one feel excluded.
- 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.
- Why your Next Developer Hire Should Be from South Africa
- Mobiquity Expands to South Africa: What Software Engineers Can Expect
- Onboarding Buddies: How We Help new Team Members Level up
If you’re considering using an Employer of Record in your expansion efforts, you can get a discount when signing up through OfferZen for any of these services: