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Hiring Internationally? Look For These 10 Skills in Your Candidates

February 21, 2017 business / management/HR

skills

Want To Hire International Employees? Here’s The Skills They’ll Need

When a company hires a new employee from overseas, the company is only partially looking to see whether that person has the technical skills. After all, it’s possible to train new hires on company processes or business practices.

But there are so many more competences that employee has to bring to the table, and these are also things employers look for. These include soft skills, cultural awareness and collaboration.

Without these skills, the new hire is going to struggle to adapt. If you’re looking to hire an international employee, keep these 10 skills in mind when choosing a candidate.

10 Essential Skills For International Business

1. Cultural Competence

Diversity Resources calls cultural competence one of the most important skills for the 21st Century. Even domestic and local companies need to be aware of cultural differences among employees and customers, and understand how to work with them respectfully.

Furthermore, as the Internet breaks down economic barriers to hiring employees, global cultural competence will be an important skill for employers managing teams across the globe.

“The success of the global economy will depend on [how well] common goals are met,” Allan Goodman and Sharon Witherell write at the Diplomatic Courier. “In today’s world, international education enables people to go beyond building connections to solving problems together.”

Without cultural understanding and global awareness, employees and managers will struggle to work together and grow their businesses.

2. Multigenerational Views

Geography is only one factor that makes up a company’s viewpoint. People are staying in the workforce longer and changing how they work. As a result, most managers are simultaneously working with employees who have been at the company for 30 years (and like how things were done 30 years ago) and Millennials who have a tendency to “disrupt” their workplaces.

“With four generations of employees in the workplace, an ability to understand and manage diversity is increasingly important,” Stan Kimer, workplace consultant, tells Fast Company. “People from different generations in general have different views of the workplace, motivations, and communication preferences. Managers need to use different management and communications styles for each employee.”
What motivates one employee might isolate another, which is challenging for managers who want all team members working together cohesively.

writing

3. Writing Skills

The high-tech world emphasises skills such as programming and analysis, but that doesn’t mean basic fundamental skills aren’t in demand. In fact, Kaleigh Moore at Inc. unearthed some startling statistics about writing in the workplace and how much it’s costing companies:

  • Businesses spend 3.1 billion USD annually on remedial writing training.
  • Out of that budget, 2.9 billion USD is spent on current employees, not new hires.
  • Fifty percent of employers take writing skills into consideration when hiring.
  • Eighty percent of employers evaluate writing skills when then the employee is on a professional advancement track.

Indeed, writing isn’t the only skill that has fallen by the wayside in the era of text and email. Many career experts have seen a widening skills gap as education systems try to keep up with modern advances.

“We can say that the increase in dependence on technology and the recent Great Recession has widened the skills gap,” Katie Bardaro at PayScale tells Fast Company. Universities are trying to teach the latest technology and struggling to keep up, which means there isn’t time and space to cover the fundamentals.

4. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining

In October 2016, Catherine Fisher at LinkedIn released the company’s predictions for what skills would be most in-demand across the globe this year. The top of the list (behind cloud computing) went to statistical analysis and data mining.

This doesn’t mean that every employee will spend the day poring over spreadsheets and managing databases, but it does mean that employees need to be able to review a set of data and make decisions off of it. Without data to back up decisions, companies would be operating based on gut instinct.

“You will need to have some analytic skills to succeed in the workplace,” Alison Doyle writes at The Balance. “[However, the] skills you need and the level of skills required will vary depending on the job and the industry.”

Familiarising yourself with industry analytics tools or basic statistics should give you a leg up when applying for jobs across the world.

5. Critical Thinking and Soft Skills

If data analysis is the technical skill that employees need to succeed globally, then critical thinking is its soft skill counterpart.

“Logic requires that you examine all premises and factual claims before drawing conclusions,” Madalyn Rose writes at OpenSesame. “In the workplace, you should strive to set aside other factors that affect your thinking and logically analyze the facts and information before you.”

Soft skills such as critical thinking shouldn’t be taken lightly. Mark Feffer at SHRM highlights some important statistics on the value of these skills in the workplace:

  • Forty-four percent of executives think the biggest proficiency gap was in soft skills.
  • Sixty-seven percent of HR managers said they would hire a candidate with weak technical skills if they had strong soft skills.
  • Only nine percent of HR managers would hire someone with strong technical skills but weak soft skills.

tasks

6. Feedback

The ability to communicate with employees about their performance means walking a delicate balance. Managers who are too harsh or condescending will experience high turnover rates, while managers who can’t speak up will never get their team members to change their behaviors.

“Improving the ability to give feedback, especially for managers, provides multiple opportunities to produce measurable business returns through improved on-the-job performance, enhanced group collaboration and agility, and better long-term employee engagement,” Amy Happ writes at Training Industry.

In this way, constructive feedback is the skill that keeps on giving. Not only can a manager provide insight on ways an employee can improve their work, but they can also advise on other soft skills such as communication and networking. Feedback is particularly important in the global market, where cultures interact with co-workers and authority figures differently.

7. Follow-Through

Follow-through is the ability to carry a project from conception to completion. In a world of collaboration, it’s easy for departments to only see their parts of the project without understanding the big picture. However, this process can also hinder employees who are looking to grow their management skills.

“The catch-22 for millennials, of course, is they need to show proof of follow-through before employers will give them a chance to exercise follow-through,” Caroline Beaton writes at Forbes.

While they might not get handed entire projects right off the bat, younger employees who prove their time management and planning skills can demonstrate the follow-through needed to take on bigger projects.

8. Teamwork or Collaboration

Interestingly, employees who lack certain skills can make up for them if they work well with their peers. Teamwork helps co-workers lean on each other and provide resources that the others lack.

“While your strength may be creative thinking, a coworker might shine in organisation and planning,” Dave Mattson writes at Sandler Training. “… A team works well together because team members rely on each other to bring individual talents to the table.”

Teamwork also helps employees pick up on social cues from their peers. This is crucial when working across borders, but shouldn’t be underestimated when working with domestic employees as well.

“Job-training and apprentice programs are increasingly factoring soft skills into their technical training curriculum,” Tess Taylor writes at HR Drive. “We saw a number of soft skill courses — Communication, Time Management and Management Fundamentals — topping the list of Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses this past year.”

Teamwork opportunities allow peer-feedback and co-worker training, which can often take employees further than a traditional HR exercise would.

data

9. Attention to Detail

Entrepreneur Josh Bersin says being told to pay attention to detail was the best advice he ever received.

Early in his career, he worked on a team that gave up their Christmas holiday to work on a multi-million dollar proposal. While the project was completed on time, his boss noticed an error that needed to be corrected before it was sent out. This error came back up on his performance review. While it was small, it sent a powerful message. “You are a very talented individual, but if you make small mistakes people will not see the value you provide.”

Skills aren’t things employees either have or don’t; they wax and wane depending on the work environment. In fact, putting people in poor work environments is the fastest way to erode their skills. “Poor quality employment causes job dissatisfaction, low commitment and reduced work effort, leading workers to withdraw skills,” Scott Hurrell writes at the LSE Business Review.

Attention to detail is a key example of this. While employees might pore over every letter when they start a job, they might let certain steps in the process slide when they’re under pressure or ambivalent about a task. Even if you care about your job — as Bersin did — careless errors can make it look as if you don’t.

10. Emotional Intelligence

More companies are starting to see the value of emotional intelligence, the counterpart to IQ. According to Good Therapy, EQ refers to “the capacity to identify, evaluate, and manage emotions in one’s self as well as in other people.”

There’s plenty of debate as to whether EQ can be taught or whether it’s something people are born with, but there are certain traits associated with it that can be improved. These include self-awareness, motivation, empathy and emotional control.

In the workplace, emotional intelligence helps managers and employees cope with stress, learn from mistakes and connect with co-workers. All of these are important throughout the company, but are particularly crucial in leadership positions.

Unfortunately for HR professionals, who know this all too well, many of these skills can’t be taught. That means it’s in a company’s best interest to find candidates who have them already.

images by: ©rawpixel/123RF Stock Photo, ©rawpixel/123RF Stock Photo, FirmBee, ©rawpixel/123RF Stock Photo

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