The global talent pipeline

Written by
Changeboard Team

05 Dec 2012

05 Dec 2012 • by Changeboard Team

What obstacles do you face when recruiting?

Alex Raubitschek, operations director, Advantage Professional (AR):

More people are considering working abroad, especially in countries where taxes are traditionally lower, such as Singapore or Dubai. Tempting HR talent to move against a continuing backdrop of economic uncertainty remains an ongoing challenge for international employers.

Tim Smeaton, CEO, Hydrogen Group (TS):

Corporate growth is predominantly driven by emerging economies. More than ever before, businesses must operate globally to take advantage of this. 

Hiring the right people to make international working succeed is a key challenge. Those with overseas experience in senior roles are looked upon more favourably and can command higher salaries. In many locations the available talent pool doesn’t include the skill sets currently in demand. 

Middle East

Julie Nicol, managing consultant, Digby Morgan Dubai (JN):
Sectors such as retail and hospitality have higher staff turnover - lower paid customer service, foreign and blue collar works are in great demand and will move based on salary. 

Companies should focus on employee engagement, retention strategy and compensation structures (all new to this region). There’s also a need for national talent to work in regions such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Developing national talent is essential for longer term progression in all sectors. There are still redundancies and recruitment freezes in sectors such as financial services and construction.

Leith Ramsay, director - Michael Page Middle East (LR):
Attraction and retention is always a challenge as this can be a transient location – it’s generally accepted that employees will come and go more frequently than in developed markets.

To attract the best people, local companies will pay 20-30% more for a candidate and offer allowances such as shool fees for children and business class flights to their home country. This can make it challenging for multinational organisations to retain their best people. Over the last year, stability and long-term progression have become a major deciding factor for candidates when considering their next move.


Barney Ely, director, Hays Human Resources (BE):

Astute employers must move quickly to secure top talent. They also need to demonstrate flexibility, particularly surrounding interview times for candidates who wish to keep their job search confidential.

Requirements for specialists are rising and when recruiting for these roles, employers will not compromise on the previous experience sought. They’re taking longer to recruit and as a result often lose an applicant they hoped to secure.


Joanne Chua, director – HR division, Robert Walters Asia (JC):

In countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia - two fast-growing markets - there is a lack of candidates with experience of working in a foreign multinational, so employers are vying for a limited talent pool. In countries with a more developed job market, such as Singapore, HR professionals may not be willing to move unless there’s a significant opportunity.

Top talent will explore openings regardless of market opportunities. Companies that are complacent in retaining talent during challenging times will find themselves losing these people to competitors. In tougher times, strong professionals are needed more than ever to help drive business growth.

(BE): Hong Kong: As a result of the skills shortage employers are placing much more focus on temporary or contract hires to fill the gaps. They’re also willing to cast the net wider and look overseas to find suitable talent if the skills cannot be found in the local market.

(BE): China: While some candidates are actively looking for new opportunities despite the market downturn, others are displaying more caution when moving from one employer to another. This means employers will need to ensure they can offer good career opportunities and benefits if they are to persuade talent from moving on.

UK & Europe


Jonathan Wiles, managing director, Michael Page Human Resources (JW):

As candidates are focused on job security, they are becoming selective in their job searches, for example by waiting to see a specific role that they are attracted to before applying. They’re less prepared to submit their resume on a speculative basis, or to accept a role that doesn’t meet the majority of their requirements.


Christine Trybus, associate director, Digby Morgan Europe (CT):

It's difficult to find international candidates who have US or UK expertise in blue chip companies with languages and flexiblity to travel. Salary packages are often not attractive enough.

How can employers engage and retain talent?

Leanne Morris, principal consultant, HR Professionals (LM):

The best people are rarely actively looking – they won’t be reached by mainstream advertising or database searches. A solution is to up-skill your recruitment team in mapping and wooing talent, or partner with a search agency that offers strong and relevant candidate networks. Savvy employers are great at retaining key talent and securing loyalty, so ‘extracting’ people is becoming harder. It also means the good candidates are sceptical of new approaches – you’d better have your company and remit pitch accurate and compelling to even get these people interested in you.

Don’t determine selection on CV alone. Make sure your interview questions probe the skills you need – you shouldn't presume someone won’t initiate new solutions if you don’t ask them a question that allows them to outline their experience doing this. Ensure your questions explore behaviours and philosophies as well as technical knowledge and work experience. You need to sell the company and opportunity – the best candidates will have choices; the chemistry and respect they feel through the interview process will outweigh money or a sexy employer brand. Remember that all candidates can be customers and advocates, even if you don’t hire them. 

Middle East

(JN): Develop total reward strategies, which include frameworks for pay and benefits. Set real L&D frameworks where people at all levels understand their career progression and longer term capabilities. Invest in training and understand that work/life balance is important – developing policies such as flexible working and other non-financial benefits. Create a brand culture, due to the diversity of the workforce. Finally, understand the needs of local talent  - perhaps by offering the chance to work towards professional qualifications in all disciplines (e.g. CIMA, CIPD). 

If your best people don’t have a clear career path in place then it’s likely they’ll be approached by a search firm and leave. It's a good idea to offer travel packages into different countries - exposure in all the Middle Eastern countries helps develop the employee’s understanding of the region. Education allowances are also vital for candidates with children.

For exposure outside the region, offer training in the global headquarters, and be sure to clearly recognise success and performance.


David Owens, managing director, HR Partners (DO):

Talent retention in Australia hinges on the employee experience so much more than pay or progression. The flexibility to work from home or take on part-time study, as well as the vibe in the workplace, are very important.

(BE): Employers are considering candidates with potential as one way to engage and retain the right talent. These candidates may not have the required years of experience, but through behavioural interviewing and referencing they are assessing their capability, confidence and desire.



Hong Kong:
Employers are now looking at using assessment and aptitude testing to find candidates who have a good cultural fit within their organisation. They are also becoming more open to longer notice periods for future employees in whom they have full confidence.

China: Employers are utilising a number of strategies to attract and retain good talent, including increasing salaries, reviewing employee value propositions, offering personalised career development plans and encouraging internal mobility and rotation programs. There is a strong need to manage candidate expectations around salary as the market is very active and often salaries are much higher than their real value.

Singapore: To overcome the current skill shortage in talent management, organisations are recruiting high potential candidates who then partake in the succession plan to manager level. Internal training and development are also on the rise as organisations look to promote from within and up skill their existing talent.


(JW): Well-established organisations recognise the value in retaining top talent. For a bigger corporate in a competitive market, building a strong employer brand is important as it helps it stand out and deliver a compelling argument for people to join or stay. Offering market competitive salaries and benefit packages is vital to attracting and retaining talent, but career progression and open and transparent communication are most important of all.