Offshore recruitment – some key insights

Michael Page Offshore specialises in recruiting for businesses based in the world's leading offshore financial centres including Jersey, Guernsey, Cayman, BVI, Bermuda, Malta, and the Isle of Man. We have helped to move many hundreds of professionals to these locations in the last five years. This year alone we have sourced an Australian banker for a chief operating officer position in Malta, a copywriter from Manchester for an eGaming company in the Isle of Man, a private equity specialist from Luxembourg for a bank in Jersey and a barrister from the USA to a law firm in Guernsey, to name just a few. We’ve even moved a finance professional working in Switzerland to a fishery business in the Falklands!
Michael Page has been specialising in offshore recruitment for nearly 10 years and along the way we’ve learned a thing or two about finding the right talent from around the world and moving them and their families. We’d like to take this opportunity to share some insights.

The best sourcing strategies

To source that ‘hard to fill’ job, we advise our clients to cast the net as widely as possible. Often they are looking for someone with a specific skill set, falling into a particular salary bracket, who is ready to consider a move and whose personal situation allows them to relocate. That individual could be currently working in any number of other locations around the world and therefore advertising is key; it is difficult to head-hunt and map talent when you are fishing in such a big pond.
We offer our clients access to an unrivalled online presence through the Michael Page website and have a dedicated in-house digital marketing team that utilise social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. In our experience the right candidate is always out there somewhere, you just have to shout loud enough for them to hear you! Our client in Malta anticipated that their COO hire would come from either London, New York or Hong Kong. In fact through our global advertising solution we found the right candidate working in a bank in Frankfurt.

Broadening jobseekers’ horizons

We get a lot of people approaching us who are looking for an international move, and instead of asking them where they want to go, we ask ‘what are you looking for in a relocation?’ Most people will say improved career opportunities, greater earning potential and a new experience. They often don’t realise that instead of the usual suspects of Australia, Singapore, Dubai or the USA, they can achieve all of this in the offshore jurisdictions. We find this is a good way to open up our talent pool and helps us to provide the best shortlist for our clients.

The importance of thorough screening and expectation management

Screening is a crucial part of the process for offshore recruitment. When we screen potential candidates for jobs, we brief them on a position and then ask them to assume that they have the job already. We tell them to go away, think and talk it through, picture how the relocation would work for them, what it would mean for their family and what their key motivators are for doing this. Then we ask them to come back and let us know if they still want to apply. This has two advantages. Firstly, it sorts out the serious contenders from the speculative applicants. Secondly, it gets the applicant focused on the process, it gets them excited and it gets them in the mindset – to the point that they will be disappointed if the move doesn’t go ahead. Lack of screening means time wasted and disengaged, unenthused candidates. We understand how frustrating it is for our clients if they have committed to a lengthy and sometimes expensive recruitment process, only for their chosen candidate to pull out or reject an offer. We make every effort to minimalise this risk through proper screening and this shows itself in our track record of accepted offers.

Keeping an open mind

Our experience has shown that the right candidate for the job will not be necessarily the best on paper. A relocation is a complex process with many hurdles to jump and the less experienced candidate with a more compelling reason to move to and stay in a specific jurisdiction may be the safer choice (as long as they have the potential to get up the learning curve quickly, of course – we strive to spot this potential and point out the sometimes less conventional individuals to our clients). Michael Page has a database of candidates across a range of functional areas who are specifically looking to relocate to a particular jurisdiction. When a bank in Jersey approached us to find them a head of project management, we were able to introduce immediately a candidate who had previously lived and worked in Jersey and was looking to return there with his family.

Closing the deal

Employers should be aware that their proposition needs to be attractive. Only a small minority of white collar professionals are prepared to move just for lifestyle gain (and you probably wouldn’t want to hire them anyway). Most professionals won’t move unless it is the right move for their career, the package is right and the timing is right for them and their family. Offshore jurisdictions are competing for talent in the global workforce – they need to make sure their proposition is relevant and compelling and that remuneration stacks up. This is just as true for an online gaming company in Malta needing to hire a Java developer as it is for a fund manager in Guernsey seeking a head of compliance. We are regularly advising our clients on salaries paid to specialists in different locations and what package they would need to offer to hire this talent. Some form of relocation assistance is a vital part of any package for an international hire.
And finally (and here’s the plug) – a good recruitment consultant with experience of international recruitment is well worth the fee. Having someone working for you to attract talent, screen applicants and negotiate often complex offers is vital to a smooth and successful process.
If you would like to find out more about our offshore recruitment capabilities, please get in touch with the Michael Page Offshore team.