International recruitment is vital. But how do you do it?

StepStone Coffee Talk


In some sectors, it is extremely difficult to find talent at home any more. However, there is often a whole pool of competent employees to be found abroad. In an inspiring chat over a cup of coffee, we asked Jean-Marc Steenbeke, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, how exactly international recruitment works.


A first step in the search for international talent is to pinpoint the target group. Steenbeke: “For example, we are currently searching for data scientists, and in Belgium there are few, if any, to be found. However, there are plenty of them in Germany. And it is different for every sector. So it’s a matter of researching carefully where your candidates are located.”

Attracting talent from abroad requires a specific approach. A person who moves abroad for their job has different motivations to an employee working in their home country.

Steenbeke: “A good work-life balance, job security and the content of the job are extremely important to domestic-based employees. For the expats, the biggest motivation is the fact that they are going abroad. Recruiters are sometimes surprised that international candidates are far more interested in career opportunities, training and personal growth than in the exact content of the job. That is a cultural difference that you have to take into account when recruiting.”

So it is a matter of convincing talent from abroad that a job at your company is worth the effort of moving to Belgium. The recruitment procedure for expats needs to accommodate that extra dimension: the employees are not just changing job, they are also leaving their familiar environment behind and stepping into the unknown.

Steenbeke: “This already starts with the interviewing process. We need to provide technical tools to ensure that remote conversations run smoothly. If the candidate is accepted, the most difficult part begins: applying for a work permit. Then the new colleague from a different culture needs to be integrated into a team consisting mainly of local people. Thorough, well-considered onboarding and the necessary support are crucial, certainly in the first few months.”

How do you recruit international talent? What tips do you have for onboarding expats?