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Hiring Internationally - HR Tech Group chat with VanHack

 

Hiring Internationally - HR Tech Group chat with VanHack

Our CEO, Stephanie Hollingshead, recently sat down with Ilya Brotzky, CEO of VanHack, global platform for tech talent, to chat about international hiring in what is a competitive job market for technology roles. In their interview, Ilya provided compelling reasons to look further afield for tech talent.

 


Stephanie:

Hi, I’m Stephanie Hollingshead, CEO at HR Tech Group, and I have Ilya Brotzky, founder and CEO of VanHack joining me to talk about hiring internationally. So thanks for chatting with me, Ilya.

Ilya: 
My pleasure. Excited to be here.

Stephanie:

So if I can state the obvious, we are in an incredibly competitive job market for technology roles, and it can be extremely hard to recruit tech talent these days, especially software developers. HR Tech Group just released our annual salary survey, and yet again, software developer was the number one most difficult to recruit job. So tech companies, they’re looking further and further afield for talent, and we are going to get the scoop from Ilya about recruiting internationally. But before we do that, Ilya, can you tell us what VanHack does?

Ilya:

Definitely. So VanHack is a global platform for tech talent who is looking to get hired anywhere, work from anywhere, either that be remote jobs, relocation jobs, or both, a combination of the two, allowing companies to hire really great senior talent and then more diverse talent quickly.

Stephanie:

So, are companies hiring internationally right now, in the middle of this global pandemic?

Ilya:

Yeah. Actually, they’re hiring, I would say, more internationally than ever before because everyone is remote by default. So even if you live in the same city, most of the time, for I think almost everyone, you’re all still on the same communication methods, Zoom, Slack, et cetera, so there’s really not too big of a difference between someone in, let’s say, Calgary or Vancouver versus someone in Caracas or Sao Paulo. Maybe there’s some time zone challenges here or there.

Ilya:

But the relocation process is really easy. It takes only two, three months. And companies’ willingness to have people who they’ve never met before in real life, or I guess physically, has gone up. And at the same time, because COVID has led to someone to digital transformation and need to have really strong tech products and digital products for consumers and enterprises, the demand for tech talent has gone up. So there really almost isn’t a choice because there’s just so much demand for tech talent, and you have to find it anywhere you can.

Stephanie: 

So what’s compelling them to hire internationally, then?

Ilya:

Well, yeah. I think it’s just that. If you post a job for a software developer and you’re only limiting yourself to, let’s say, less than 1% of software engineers in the world that are in Vancouver, well, there you go. You’re competing with all Silicon Valley companies who are hiring internationally. You’re competing with also all of US, all of Canada, and just for a very, very finite number of people, maybe five, six, 7,000 developers who are in just one city.

Ilya:

And so companies, I think, realize that it’s not as hard as you think and there’s a lot of really great talent out there. Also, 40% of the tech workers in Canada are immigrants themselves, so it’s not this new concept. Those people just happened to bring themselves here. Whereas now, with the Global Talent Stream visa, which is really not that old anymore, it’s four years old now, it’s never been easier to do that, to hire internationally or hire from anywhere.

Stephanie:

Wow. That is a pretty compelling when you look at it that way. So, retaining tech talent is a big concern right now. We’re seeing scary stats in the media about how many people are wanting to change jobs, and we’re seeing money being thrown around higher key talent. And I think a common perception is that hiring someone from another country is a bigger gamble than hiring someone domestically. And VanHack, I think, has placed over a thousand international hires, is that correct?

Ilya:

Yeah. Over 1,300 now.

Stephanie:

Over 1,300. Holy smokes. So what’s your experience with retention of international hires? What’s actually happening?

Ilya:

Yeah. That’s actually a really good point and something that is actually, for us, we’ve seen the complete opposite from what the initial perception is. It’s actually, from the first 100 hires we’ve had, the average tenure, when we did the survey about a year ago, was 2.7 years, and I believe that number is higher now. So two years and nine months. And yeah, what we’re seeing is when someone is hired by a company and that company is the first ones that almost taken a chance on that person or given them an opportunity, there’s a loyalty there, that the company gets from a candidate, where the candidate is grateful for this company.

Ilya:

And also, there’s a little bit of friction with the work permit. The work permit is connected to the employer. It’s not impossible and that hard to switch out and get a new one, but candidates typically like to stick around, they like to grow, they like to get promoted. They’ve just made a huge life move across the world and they aren’t really looking for another move anytime soon. So a lot of companies have this fear of, “Oh, somebody is just going to use me to come to Canada or to immigrate and then leave,” and we haven’t seen that be the case at all.

Ilya:

If anything, what we see is local candidates switching jobs a lot more often. And not that there’s really too big of a difference between the two, but it’s a lot easier for someone to just get hired, go across the street, or I guess go to a different Slack instance these days. So yeah, it’s something that we’ve seen as a strength for international candidates that people sometimes don’t about.

Stephanie:

That’s interesting. Thank you. Do you think international hiring shifts the company’s culture?

Ilya:

Yeah. Big time. I think it’s something that, especially these days, where we’re all working in a global market in terms of competing in software, if you’re a SaaS company, you can be selling your software in every country, so you need to have that mindset of being able to enter into South American market, or enter into the European market, or different markets around the world. And having people from those places, who speak those languages, know those cultures, really helps in bringing in people.

Ilya:

For example, Traction on Demand, they were one of our first customers. They’ve hired, I believe, 10 to 15 people from VanHack and probably another 30, 40 people on their own internationally, probably more. And they often talk about how that’s been a huge culture add for them, by having people from all these different places. And I believe Canada, we’re a nation of immigrants… I don’t believe. It’s true. It’s a fact. So you’re just adding more people from that mosaic that we have.

Ilya:

So yeah, I think it’s a huge culture benefit and it’s something really cool to say, “We have…” For example, VanHack, we have people from, I think, 13 or 14 countries. We speak 20 languages. I’m not sure exactly the latest stats. We’ve hired some new people recently. And that’s really fun. You have something different, and you have people with a more open mind on your team. That allows you to build products and create solutions for a global audience.

Stephanie:

Wow. Yeah. That’s wonderful. Any final tip or tidbit that you’d like to share?

Ilya:

Well, I think two things that are related. One is don’t be scared of hiring from abroad. It’s almost the exact same thing as hiring someone locally or someone from another city, someone coming from the East Coast, for example. It’s really not too big of a difference. The paperwork and stuff, it’s not too hard. And another thing is, if you don’t do it, someone else will, and they’ll build a better product than you and grow their business faster. So they’re the carrot and the stick, in a way. And if all the big, fast growing tech companies are doing it, there’s a reason for it, so I would dip your toes into the water, do some homework, and give it a chance. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Stephanie:

Wow. Yeah. That’s a lot of food for thought. And certainly, it’s some challenging challenges of some assumptions there. So thank you so much, Ilya, and thank you everyone for listening to our interview with Ilya Brotzky. It’s vanhack.com if you want to check them out.

Ilya:

Yeah, my pleasure, Stephanie. The last thing I’ll say is that most borders are something we create in our minds or they’re within us, so if we can get over those in our heads, I think we’ll have a much better company, a culture, and business. So, yeah. Thanks for this video. This was really, really fun.

Stephanie:

Well said. Thank you.


Click here to view the video interview on our  YouTube channel and be sure to subscribe for future content.


 September 22, 2021