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Where Have All the Salespeople Gone? Planning for Growth & Agility When Talent is Scarce

Global talent shortage

If you ask executives what worries them most about the future of their company, many will say that they are preparing for a global talent shortage. Executives and human resource departments have already noticed a shortage of employees in sectors like engineering, sales, marketing, and management, and are looking for ways to combat this talent shortage. As companies grow, incorporate new technologies, and expand globally, businesses need workers who can rapidly adapt to change and who have the necessary skills to succeed and grow in a global business environment.

A recent report from Deloitte shows that the talent shortage isn’t just limited to businesses in the United States, either: companies worldwide are looking to acquire new talent to serve a rapidly-changing world (p. 43). So if you’re looking for new talent, you know you’re going to face some stiff competition. But if everyone is looking for new employees, what can your company do to increase their talent while reducing competition with other businesses? Where can you look for new pools of talent? If you’re willing to think globally and be a little creative, we think you can find talent in unexpected places.

Many companies’ first strategy will be to train internal candidates, but the competition for employees will be significant enough that internal training may not be enough. A recent Mercer report anticipates that many companies will turn to external recruitment to fill their talent needs (Mercer 2017 p. 4).

Expanding globally and then externally recruiting in the new country may not fill your talent needs, either. Since talent shortages are a global phenomenon, you may be looking to hire in a country that’s already experiencing its own shortage. European countries are particularly talent-short now, since many companies are noticing the success of Industry 4.0 processes and seeking opportunities for economic growth there (Stanton Chase, 2017). And many companies already plan to hire foreign talent: a report by the Society for Human Resource Management discovered that 55% of employers plan to hire workers from other countries in 2017, and 63% of employers have already built foreign talent acquisition into their recruitment strategies (Allegis, Global Workforce Trends Report, p. 10).

So if everybody is planning to hire external and foreign talent, and sales/marketing positions are going to experience huge shortages how can you widen your pool of candidates for your foreign sales positions? The answer: Expanding your horizons across language barriers will widen your search.

Consider non-English speakers

At first, this seems counterintuitive. Companies everywhere want bilingual employees, so those employees can reach more customers. In the last five years, the demand for workers who speak more than one language has more than doubled. However, this workplace trend has made competition for bilingual workers fierce, and bilingualism might not always be right for every job. In sales in particular, workers need to be able to connect with your customers in their native language. Localized language is important in online interactions, but it’s especially crucial for person-to-person interactions. For the few times your sales and marketing employees will communicate with headquarters, do they actually need to be bilingual, or could you accomplish the same goal with a little translation? Prioritizing your company’s needs will help you determine if you actually need bilingual employees. If not, your best salespeople might not need to be bilingual–and you could access a whole new market of talent by rethinking the bilingual requirement.

Recruiting and communicating across languages

Hiring international talent is a critical move in a global talent shortage, and a strategic one for injecting new talent into your workforce. Once you’ve found the best talent for your company, making efforts to communicate in your employees’ language will pay off in retaining your workforce and recruiting new talent. As a long-term strategy, building translation costs into your budget can prepare your company to hire and retain the best talent, no matter what language they speak.

Look for adaptable employees

If anything characterizes the global workforce, it’s change. Companies are being forced to adapt constantly to ever-changing technology and markets. This means that companies are increasingly valuing employees who can adapt to change easily and gracefully, and grow into different roles or directions for the business. Agile, adaptable employees don’t always have to come from the company or country you’re based in. In fact, candidates who are comfortable working across languages or cultures already demonstrate their ability to adapt to new situations.

Hiring international talent brings new flexibility and adaptability to your business, and it also requires agility and adaptability on your company’s part. Feel free to contact us for a consultation on the best solutions for your global business and workforce.

Also, check out our post on building a healthy company or our ebook on agile localization for your products.

Software Internationalization eBook