June 13, 2011

How to Recruit and Select Skilled Immigrants, The HR Professional’s Perspective

As an HR professional, you understand why your organization should hire skilled immigrants but you’re still not sure how to go about finding and recruiting them.

Often traditional recruitment strategies can unintentionally screen out these qualified candidates and when they are hired, poor onboarding processes can lead to a dissatisfied employee deciding to leave your organization.

Recruitment Strategy

To attract qualified skilled immigrants, you need to create an inclusive recruitment strategy that focuses on the skills needed to meet new and existing organizational goals — regardless of where the skills were developed.

When writing the job ad, use clear, concise language that focuses on these essential skills to ensure you aren’t excluding immigrant candidates. And remember, Canadian experience is very rarely a requirement to do a job successfully.

Highlighting your business’ commitment to a diverse and inclusive organization will also help attract skilled immigrants.

Once the job ad is written, you need to market these opportunities directly to skilled immigrant communities. Professional networks, bridging programs and internships are all sources of skilled immigrant talent. Non-profit employment agencies that serve immigrants can also help you recruit and assess potential candidates.

Screening and Interviewing

You need to look past cultural differences in resumés, such as personal details, to find the essential information — the skills needed to do the job.

Credential assessment services can help you evaluate international education and experience, and a strong track record, even if that success is gained in another country, will likely be repeated in Canada.

A standardized interview process will help reduce hiring bias. As part of that process, ask all interview candidates the same questions and score them against a scale. Your interview team should include other skilled immigrants, if possible, or employees from diverse communities.

Also, culture-based communication differences may arise during the interview. For example, questions such as, “Tell me about a personal career success” or “Describe a time when you disagreed with a supervisor or manager,” are difficult for many immigrants who come from cultures that value teamwork over personal achievements, or that do not question authority figures.

Subjective ideas, such as “best cultural fit,” can unwittingly exclude qualified candidates without gaining a deeper understanding of their potential contributions to your company. Instead, focus on objective criteria, consult members of the interview team and conduct reference checks to make the best hiring decision.

Hiring and Onboarding

When offering the job, ensure the compensation is commensurate with the market and communicate the details of the package clearly. This ensures the new hire will understand the value of the offer and will increase retention.

Once you’ve hired a skilled immigrant, or any employee for that matter, a thorough onboarding process will help boost employee retention. Setting expectations — from responsibilities, duties and office culture to performance monitoring and talent development — is the best way to begin your new employee relationship on the right foot.

For more information on how to recruit, hire and orient skilled immigrants, visit the Recruit and Select section of the website.

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