External recruiting addresses the identification and attraction of talent that does not currently work for the organization. Globalization and lower immigration and emigration barriers have increased the mobility of people across cultural and geographical boundaries (Beechler & Woodward, 2009; Tung & Lazarova, 2006) and changed the nature of global recruiting. The increasing mobility of talent also means that companies must compete internationally for the best recruits (Farndale, Scullion & Sparrow, 2010). We now turn our attention to the literature on the external recruiting of internationally mobile talent.
In addition to company-assigned expatriates, self-initiated expatriates (SIE) voluntarily move to another country to find work (Haslberger & Vaiman, 2013). As summarized by Doherty (2013), SIE research has included the work-related experiences and characteristics of successful SIEs, comparative studies of assigned versus self-initiated expatriation and SIEs as global talent flow. Research has found that cultural adjustment is related to expatriate performance (Bhaskar-Shrinivas, Harrison, Shaffer & Luk, 2005) and that this adjustment and cultural assimilation are a highly personal process resulting from the impact of cognitions and emotions on behavioural effectiveness (Haslberger, 2008). Again, these findings suggest that recruiting outcomes can be optimized by attending to individual characteristics and competences found to be related to greater cultural assimilation and adjustment.
As mentioned earlier, alternative forms of international work, including SIE, have been growing in popularity (Andresen, Bergdolt, Margenfeld & Dickmann, 2014; Demel & Mayrhofer, 2010; Tahvanainen, Welch & Worm, 2005). Multinational organizations have been moving away from assigning traditional parent-country expatriates towards relying more on third-country nationals instead (Tungli & Peiperl, 2009). Research on the repatriation difficulties of returning expatriates suggests that inter-organizational mobility tends to be high among expatriates due to timing issues and the changing nature of work situations (Banai & Harry, 2004; Cerdin & Brewster, 2014). This reduces barriers to their recruitment by other companies and potentially forms the basis for migration or immigration by SIE. Indeed, SIE and traditional expatriates share many of the values for lifestyle, internationalism, challenge and autonomy, although significant differences are found (Cerdin & Le Pargneux, 2010). Recruitment efforts can take into consideration that SIEs often seek global opportunities for the purposes of personal and professional career development (Cerdin & Le Pargneux, 2010; Richardson & McKenna, 2003), although it should be noted that SIE from developing countries often face unique structural barriers to career development (Al Ariss & Ozbilgin, 2010).
Tharenou (2013) concluded that SIEs are likely not a suitable alternative to company- assigned expatriates for roles requiring firm-specific competences, including running the foreign operation and management development. Tharenou concluded that SIEs are most suited to roles requiring cross-cultural and host location-specific competences, including filling technical and lower and middle management positions requiring more generic, specialist competences. Additionally, research on SIEs has had a tendency to ignore highly skilled immigrants arriving from developing countries (as opposed to developed countries) even though such talent pools offer organizations alternatives in a global talent environment (Al Ariss & Ozbilgin, 2010). This suggests that global recruiting practices need to account for differences in the nature of the roles being filled, the migration direction from one country to another and the motivations of SIEs to pursue such opportunities.
Emerging markets remain one of the biggest global recruiting challenges. Rodriguez and Scurry (2014) called for more research exploring the characteristics of successful SIEs and how they navigate contextual constraints, such as localization policies in emerging markets, including the Middle East (Sidani & Al Ariss, 2014). Individuals’ willingness to be globally mobile, especially in emerging markets, and the organizational capability needed to manage this talent must be better understood (Farndale, Scullion & Sparrow, 2010). The most effective recruiting methods, talent profiles and sourcing processes for high-potential employees from developing countries are not yet well understood.