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International Recruitment and the challenges of time zones 

International Recruitment and the challenges of time zones

A few years ago, I was having panic attacks trying to arrange a video interview. It was pre-lockdown and was probably taking place over Skype, so much less of a common occurrence than today.  The client was in Mexico, the candidate in continental Europe and I was here, in the UK.  Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t dealing with only the three time zones. The following week the clocks were going forward or back (I can’t remember which direction it was) but only in the UK and Europe, not in Mexico which was happening the following week. Still with me? I didn’t find that out right away having naively assumed that everyone who did it, did it together.  I was dealing with calendar apps that didn’t always properly sync to the right time, adjusted for the country I sent the invitations to, so I had to be careful to be clear in correspondence.  I had to plan ahead, whilst also ensuring that both the client and candidate knew I had planned ahead and didn’t account for it themselves which was super stressful.  Recently Mexico has changed their law on daylight savings and most of the country (but not all of it) is on the same time all year round.  We’ve now just started recruiting in Mexico again and you can read more about that here.   

In another notable instance of time zone stress I was recruiting in the USA for a remote working job and had three candidates interviewing on the same day at the same time from their perspective because each candidate was in a different state an hour apart.  I had to schedule three interviews all at the same time for the candidates but at different times from a UK perspective.  The client was in the UK, recruiting for the US so that made it both easier and more difficult all at once. 

Despite waking up in the middle of the night on occasion worried that I have told a candidate a meet was at 10am EST when I meant EDT or even worse CDT, I love recruiting internationally.   

Clients usually come to us outside of the UK when they have a problem to solve – quite often that they want to recruit outside of their local market (and from a different country or another US state) or that they are recruiting into a jurisdiction where they don’t currently have an office.  Also, and increasingly, where they have used local recruiters in their local market and haven’t found solutions, so they’ve come to us as a fresh pair of eyes. 

International recruitment requires a lot of research and preparation, I’ve previously learnt quite a lot about the tax advantages of the UAE or the immigration system of New Zealand.  At times it can be tedious, particularly in a market where we’ve been starting from scratch.  You must contact a lot of people to help your client out and sending out multiple messages can be both time-consuming and quite frankly not the most challenging use of your brain.  However, when it pays off, when you find a solution via a combination of due diligence, networking and perseverance it’s tremendously gratifying.  My colleague and I recruited two people in Tokyo once in a matter of a few weeks from a complete standing start and no Japanese language skills, it’s surprising sometimes how a little creativity can help.  And to recruit internationally credibly, you need to travel.  For the most part, for my colleagues and I that means IP conferences.  IP is such a welcoming and inclusive community you can dramatically increase your profile by just showing up (and knowing people all around the world has been useful for non-work-related reasons on occasion).  This international networking strategy we think has given us a competitive edge and an understanding of the world you don’t get even from visiting a country.  The challenges of recruiting and speaking to locals about recruiting definitely gives a widely different perspective.  I’m well versed on conversation topics, although I confess, I know a great deal more about the US election system than I do the Columbian but there’s time to learn!  Today as I write we have an opportunity in Spain for a German-speaking Trademark Lawyer, two opportunities in Ireland for electronics patent attorneys, the aforementioned Mexico position, and pending projects for patent attorneys in the US and business development people in South Korea and Japan.  Oh, and we have lots of candidates who want to move internationally too – UK attorneys wanting to work in Munich, South Africans wanting to move to Europe, and EU citizens fancying a country hop.  

And now we are not only recruiting internationally but also providing social media services to private practices across the world.  I would like to think that our many years recruiting in the intellectual property sector means we understand what appeals as a whole and how that can work when building your company page on LinkedIn or producing interesting content.  We’ve also moved steadily into video production, producing more dynamic content for firms. 

So, if you’re from country A and want to recruit from country B or are in country B wanting to move to country C, or you just want a stunning bit of video – we’re ready and able to help.  Just bear with me on telling the time. 


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