5 common misunderstandings about hiring tech talent from abroad

5 common misunderstandings about hiring tech talent from abroad

August 20, 2019

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a tech startup with two co-founders and a pug, or an enterprise with 10,000 cubicles. If you’re looking to grow, I bet hiring is your biggest challenge. And if your chosen solution is hiring tech talent from abroad, it can seem confusing.

Why is this challenge affecting so many Canadian tech companies? Well, the same policies that are keeping top tech talent out of the USA are leading US companies to set up shop in Canada to access global talent, I explained to Time magazine recently. The Wall Street Journal reports: “Canada permits companies with offices in the country to hire skilled foreign workers in positions such as computer engineers, software designers, and mathematicians, and have their visas processed within two weeks.”

“Amazon may have been one of the first to look northwards for a new Canadian expansion, locking down a residency in the Canada Post building and bringing 4,000 new technical jobs to the city, but it’s far from the last. In less than 12 months, a concentration of Bay Area businesses have turned to Vancouver to set up new headquarters or hire new employees” (as reported in the Georgia Straight).

It’s great news, but it’s putting pressure on the local talent pool.

Between Canada’s own startups and the big US tech giants moving here, the local  tech sector needs to fill 216,000 jobs by 2021. So believe me, you’re not alone.

In fact, a little over two years ago, the fine people in our parliament started seriously waking up to this challenge. They needed to make hiring tech talent from abroad easier.

That’s what the Global Talent Stream aims to fix

Canada created the Global Talent Stream to fast-track hiring of tech professionals from abroad. And it’s working. BetaKit reports: “The Global Talent Stream (GTS), which was made permanent in the federal government’s Budget 2019 earlier this year, has seen more than 1,300 companies use the GTS, accounting for 23,900 work permit applications that have been processed since it began as a pilot program in June 2017.”

Of over 4,000 jobs filled through this program, we’ve done more than any other tech recruiting matchmaker to bring in top talent from many countries, including Brazil, India, Nigeria, etc.

We help companies use the Global Talent Stream to hire tech talent. But every week, we still get a lot of questions about it. Here are our most common answers.

Q. “I’m sure I can find all the talent I need locally. Why look abroad?”

As a tech entrepreneur myself, probably the number-one criticism of Canadians with my job title is that we don’t think big enough. So many Canadian companies (tech or otherwise) are content to sell to a domestic market. That habit is really weird, if only because the exchange rate with the US means you’re leaving a ton of money on the table.

In contrast, US tech founders focus not only on their own gigantic market, but outward at the world. And that’s how you get to be Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.

Coincidentally, it’s those giant companies that are moving their operations to Canada precisely because they want access to top talent from around the world. The same logic around selling globally just makes sense when you’re hiring, too.

Q. “Won’t dealing with a government program be a hassle?”

I get it. Dealing with the CRA, applying for Worksafe for my employees, even renewing my passport is a drag. But this Global Talent Stream program is a real outlier.

What used to literally take up to a year now takes about two months or less, from the start of your search to getting the employee in the country. We even had a DevOps Engineer from Estonia relocate in 36 days.

Even better, the government liaisons in this program bend over backwards to streamline the process for participating companies. You don’t get penalized for errors. I’ve personally seen instances where the employer put in the wrong NOC skilled worker classification into the paperwork. The immigration civil servant actually helped them correct the mistake and expedite the process! It’s a breath of fresh air.

Q. “I need to hire right now. Won’t hiring abroad take too long?”

Again, as a CEO, I can sympathize with this feeling. But I also know that even when I feel like I need to fill roles instantly, that’s just not going to happen. Advertising the role, vetting and doing due diligence always takes more time than you’d hope. In fact, that tech companies can often take up to 6 months (or more) to fill technical roles.

So, what if you could tap into a talent pool of over 72,000 developers, which happens to be growing by 500 a day (and that’s just VanHack’s network). You could get candidates within hours, not days or weeks.

Let’s say it takes three months, from finding candidates to interviewing them, hiring them and getting through the visa process. Three months isn’t bad at all. And with such a large talent pool, you can increase the odds of not just hiring, but retaining the candidate, so you don’t have to worry about spending even more time trying to fill that same role again.

Q. “If I hire abroad, how do I know they’ll stay with my company?”

Think of it from the employee’s perspective. Coming to Canada to work for you is literally a dream job for them. They can earn much more than they would at home, while having an amazing quality of life. They won’t make this move lightly. Very often, they bring their family, who is counting on them to succeed at your company, so they can build a life here.

Let me be totally clear about this: when you hire using the Global Talent Stream (or really, any government program), you’re not hiring digital nomads. These are people who put down roots in companies and in their communities.

In fact, a back-of-the-napkin calculation of 725 hires through VanHack to date, multiplied by 80K (an average developer salary) adds up to $40 million, which is $12.6 million in income tax revenue, before you even get to their purchases of rent, furniture, etc. While you’re investing in them, they’re investing in you and the country.

Q. “You probably need to be a big company already to take part in the Global Talent Stream, right?”

There’s no limit. In fact, we helped one company go through the process to find their first employee!

Just think about this: you’re in Toronto or Vancouver – and the big tech giants are sucking up all the local talent. Or your startup is in your hometown of Saskatoon or Brandon – not exactly tech hubs. But it doesn’t matter how big you are or where you are: you can still tap into a world of talent.

As an immigrant and tech professional myself, I love the idea of talented global citizens following their dreams. This business I’m in is not just a way to make money. It’s what I’m about. And we’re here to answer any other questions you might have, so good companies can access a whole world of talent. Interested in learning more? Check out our FREE guide to how to apply to the Global Talent Stream.

Just want an expert to walk you through how to apply to the Global Talent Stream? 

Book a FREE call with the VanHack team