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Capturing Hearts And Minds In Emerging Markets – One Country<br>At A Time

October 19

Many of our multinational clients have already moved into emerging markets while some are still considering it and yet others already have their requisition counts. These companies have recognized that by moving into these markets they are able to gain a competitive advantage not only because it is often a new market for products and services — but also because there is often a much cheaper labor pool available. Wikipedia defines Emerging Markets as nations with social or business activity in the process of rapid growth and industrialization. This sounds very promising but with this growth comes its fair share of challenges.

As a staffing professional you probably have already seen what a challenge it can be to find the right “fit” for your organization domestically, now add a talent shortage to this mix and you’ll understand this all too well. So often I see companies responding tactically to workforce needs abroad but what we don’t often think about is how to build that valuable pipeline of talent, that talent that may not be ready right away but would be ready to join your organization in a year or so.

Recruitment is no longer limited to the specific geographical area within which a company operates, in many instances we look for the right skill set first. This is where building a pipeline for talent is becoming even more important. Globally, borders are being replaced with connections and as we start to see talent gaps in some markets we also see that for some organizations it is also becoming harder to implement their business strategy.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your company brand - I recently saw results of a perception survey conducted for a technology client and it was interesting how different brand perception of the consumer product was in each country. It was also interesting to see how much of an impact that brand perception had on the perception of the company as an employer and although this isn’t too surprising, the research showed that there was a high correlation to the perception of the company product and their desirability as an employer.

Knowing how to take a message from global to local is becoming increasingly important as we need to be specific with the message and the promise we make. We need to be certain the message works universally, making sure it aligns with the needs of the people in that region so that this will help drive the company’s success all the while staying true to the company brand. When building an employer brand there is a lot of evidence that a consistent message is important to avoid brand erosion, but what if the executions of your brand do not work in a market that you are moving into? What if your images are not culturally relevant or even offensive to the local population? These are critical to consider.

It is important not to become too dependent on one media source; a mix that is relevant to your target hires as well as the local climate is needed. It is also imperative to decide whether you are in it for the long term or just wanting to fill the numbers – ask yourself if you are ready to do what it takes to build a pipeline. Many organizations flood the Internet with ads in short bursts but do nothing to build brand awareness for long term pipeline growth.

As far as media mix goes, one thing we do know is that globally traditional job board usage is declining, while search engines and job aggregators are becoming increasingly popular. Print is still prevalent in a lot of markets and should be part of the mix where appropriate. Mobile phone usage has become the dominant form of communication in emerging markets, in some cases even overtaking TV. We also know that not every country places value on Best Places to Work lists, to others it’s the Holy Grail.

Back in 2005 we were talking about the future “war for talent”, and we assumed that wherever we were looking for this talent, it would be there. As U.S. companies continue to expand into other markets we see this war for talent intensifying and it is globalization that is the biggest factor in driving this. The good news is that in this new interconnected world that we find ourselves in, we are starting to see what can be described as a “single labor market” – we no longer have to rely on becoming desirable to the target audience only in the country you are hiring in — we need to look beyond those borders.

How much do you know about your market? It’s tough to make decisions on hiring strategies in Poland while you’re sitting in your office in San Francisco. To quote a client “we know what we don’t know” so it makes sense to educate yourself as much as you can about the market you are heading into.

Here are some of the kinds of questions you should be asking when entering new markets:

  • What is the available/employable workforce?
  • How strong is your company brand?
  • Does your company have a perception as an employer in the marketplace?
  • Is your creative easily adaptable and culturally appropriate everywhere?
  • What does the pipeline look like?
  • Mobility, can talent move from one area/country to another with ease?
  • Are there privacy laws?
  • Is your internal structure ready? Knowledgeable?

And please, don’t forget to hold your agency accountable and to consistently measure your media. This is critical. As is the ability to adjust campaigns to ensure long term success.

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