Global Hiring: Using Cultural Anthropological Glasses

by Joshua G Rodriguez

global hiring

Being based in the U.S., often I’ve seen existing recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) companies or new companies describe themselves as “global” in the staffing industry.  More specifically, they present an outsourcing or offshoring solution that is “tailor-made” or “customized” to provide a recruitment service in a specific geography outside of their home country. But, do they actually provide global hiring?  

Within the last decade, it has become more of an appealing option to provide RPO solutions by recruiting and staffing agencies.  Essentially, it’s a hybrid of business process outsourcing (BPO) and talent acquisition (TA) arenas evolving into an attractive on-demand solution for institutions that are looking to expand their global footprint and augment their staff with an international office.

Recommended eBook: What the bleep is recruitment process outsourcing? 

As technology evolves, newer generation companies, such as the popular ride-sharing entity known as Uber, seemed to be born as global. Even the “little brother” Lyft has recently announced its international expansion. More established companies such as IBM had to learn how to expand differently.  This expansion was sparked with the desire of IBM’s legend Thomas Watson Sr. during the 1930’s who felt to obstruct war it was necessary to develop “World Peace through World Trade”. 

No matter the date of inception, for companies to truly have their stamp in a global economy they need to take certain steps in hiring the right people in new unfamiliar territories.  If the time has truly come for your business to grow from a domestic entity in one country and operate in multiple countries, start with a few fundamental questions.

When considering a global market, business leaders should ask themselves, “How does anthropology come into play? Or “Can our interactions with other countries be enhanced with better cultural understandings?” Most of all, the key question that really needs contemplation, “Do we possess cross-cultural awareness for hiring the right staff?”.

Your primary drivers should not just be transactional in that you’re attempting to just gain an advantage of pricing differences when hiring a local workforce to widen profit margins due to lower cost and overhead. Remember, clients are very much aware of these factors and not as uninformed as they may have once been decades ago.

Awareness of the local culture and how to hire from the talent available is vital. 

How do you approach global hiring?

If you want to implement the same domestic hiring model internationally, this might NOT be the best approach. Before initiating your global hiring plan, it would be wise to identify key players who can spearhead the efforts. Do you have someone at a strategic executive level with an understanding of how to expand into new countries and of the value? If so, great, this is solid start. 

In my experience, that individual should approach global hiring with a fresh objective while using what I call a set of “cultural anthropological glasses”.  

I know you may think, really? Anthropology? Widely known as a study with a degree that would be useful only for university professors and museum curators trying to preserve historical relics.

When possible take a moment to review the various studies of anthropology as described by Broadly, it’s the study of human language, culture, and behaviors in societies if you’re unfamiliar with it.  Wouldn’t a better understanding of this study seem helpful before entering a market inside a new country?

Could this approach be beneficial for hiring? 

Simply put, yes! A great article on this can be seen on

Before entering a foreign market, you should thoroughly research the country by starting with market trends of the economy, an understanding of the historical changes, the effect of these changes on modern culture, and if applicable, learn the language.  You couldn’t connect with a local market without knowing customs, holidays, mannerisms and most of all their needs and desires without effective communication, right?

Imagine if I were to walk into the Georgia Tech Bobby Dodd football stadium, in my hometown Atlanta, GA, on game day wearing a jersey of our rival from Clemson.  I would surely be met with disdain... but I humorously digress.

When working with an RPO provider, making use of these “glasses” is advisable to better view the initial approach when starting to establish your local staff inside the demographic with coachable minds, to become a well-trained group of in-house local nationals. 

During my time in the Philippines, I was able to learn first-hand why it’s a popular destination in Southeast Asia for RPO companies to set up operations.  We are already familiar with reasons such as language commonality and cost reduction. But one primary reason that has developed within the last decade especially is its human capital has shown steady growth.  A populous generation of young and fresh graduates with degrees in information technology, digital marketing and engineering.

However, the cultural differences in the East can demonstrate a much more passive interaction than what may be common to us in the West.  This could be a challenge in selecting your new staff. 

Applying anthropology, I learned the country shares Spanish colonial roots similar to Latin America.  Applying similar formalities from LATAM, I discovered it was best to conduct interviews by getting to know the candidates on a personable level and making them feel more confident before jumping right into questioning their skills and background. 

Obviously, a common language will be determined but for the overall interaction and digestion of clear communication, bring the pace down a bit. As Cynthia Cohen, co-founder of Mynt Consultant and global hiring expert states, “it will make a great first impression,” and I adamantly agree. 

Put it all together

It may seem overwhelming with many factors contributing to the overall culture of the company, so it's important to move full circle from the small details into the big picture. Think what behaviors would best reflect the vision of your organization.  We know humans are resistant to change, thus, get your leadership teams and colleagues mentally invested in the new way of doing things. 

Focus on the reward of hiring and on-boarding an international team, make it interactive, be transparent and most of all learn how to make it enjoyable.  The journey of the learning process can be rewarding itself, but once it all comes together the return of entire investment will help you adapt and thrive as global hiring trends continue to evolve.

About the author: Joshua Rodriguez is a thought leader, writer and self-proclaimed agitator with a multifarious background in the talent acquisition industry providing solutions, motivation, and emotional intelligence to holistic US staffing needs domestically and offshore.  He has a passion for providing global outsourcing services using modern business strategies, collaborating with open minds, and utilizing cloud technology.  


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