Job relocation is hardly anything new. 2018, however, brings lots of surprising changes to the tech talent relocation landscape. What was considered normal in the past is changing and relocation services and the market going through significant changes too.
We’re constantly monitoring everything that is connected with relocation and these are 11 trends that you should know and watch in the world of tech talent relocation.
1. A shift in countries of origin and relocation destination choices
It’s not unusual for the countries that tech talent come from to shift over time.
The United Nations’ International Migration Report for 2017 provides data on where the majority of international migrants are coming from:
“India is now the country with the largest number of people living outside the country’s borders (17 million), followed by Mexico (13 million), the Russian Federation (11 million) and China (10 million).”
20 largest countries of origin of international migrants, number of migrants (millions). Image source
Therefore, in view of the above, the list of countries to source talent will be constantly changing too.
It’s also important to bear in mind the fact that tech talent’s relocation destination choices are subject to change. A good number of migrants are now choosing Europe as their prime destination.
Number of international migrants (millions) by region of destination. Image source
Senior-level professionals around the world, for the most part, get competitive salaries that are sufficient to live comfortably in a country of their choice. Moreover, it’s possible to work remotely for a foreign company and get paid well.
Among the major factors affecting the choice of a relocation destination are the country’s social, economic and political landscape, its safety level and possible human rights restrictions. Money typically takes a back seat.
Based on a short survey of RelocateMe users — 5,000 software engineers — we were able to pick out the following as the most desired places for tech talent on the globe at the moment:
2. Relocation packages are becoming an integral part of hiring schemes
They may have been rare in the past, but there’s growing evidence to suggest that companies offering relocation assistance are becoming more commonplace. Relocation packages are becoming an integral part of HR policies and onboarding processes for companies recruiting globally.
Some companies hiring international talent can only cover basic expenses such as visa/paperwork and flight tickets, while others can offer their potential employees much more advanced relocation assistance. This is generally dependent on the size and age of the company, its financial performance, experience hiring foreign workers, and other benefits (e.g. a sign-up bonus, equity, shares, etc.) that comprise an overall compensation package offered to employees.
This is also backed by the job relocation survey from Allied, one of the world’s largest moving companies.
“62.6% of our respondents who had relocated worked for companies that offer relocation packages, while 37.4% worked for employers that don’t offer such assistance. And when it comes to offering this type of benefit, the size of the company makes a difference…“
Among the most common relocation perks offered are:
- Visa support (work visa sponsorship, help in filling out documents, etc.);
- One-way flight coverage for an employee or for the employee’s whole family;
- Housing support (providing temporary lodgings, free assistance with searching for a home, payment of a rental deposit, etc.);
- On-site assistance like language courses, adaptation tips (what insurance to choose, how to open a bank account and such);
- Financial aid, e.g. coverage of moving expenses (furniture, home appliances, etc.).
3. Tourism on the rise… correlation with cross-border recruiting?
The tourism industry is rapidly growing. Oftentimes, developers are turning to tourism to scope out new job prospects. Tourism can provide them a clear benefit.
In addition to offering an increased probability of scoring a face-to-face interview, job candidates get a chance to check out their target destinations, getting better acquainted with the local customs, lifestyle, and job market.
As a recruiter (hiring manager), you can also benefit from this. You are often able to “catch” your potential hire during their visit to your country as a tourist. In such cases, you should act fast — offer your candidate to pop into the office and meet in person.
You might have to make some changes to your “traditional” hiring process (e.g. to skip a few interview steps, accommodate your candidate’s schedule, etc.) and get to know your prospective employee better on-site, in the office.
4. Software engineers with 3-5 years of experience are the “sweet spot”
Of course, we are all hunting for specialists who have a good deal of experience. The flip side of that is the large number of job offers those candidates get every week. They are free to choose between various projects, countries, salaries and working conditions…
Naturally, the average salary of a Senior Software Engineer today versus 5-8 years ago differs considerably and the number grows each year. The bright line that previously separated salaries being offered to a relocating senior developer and those being offered to local ones seems to be fading.
Therefore, in order to maintain a balance in company salaries and the balance of powers in a team, many companies are increasingly willing to hire talent with 3-5 years of experience.
5. Mid and Senior level developers will expect salaries well above the minimum base salary for relocation
Nowadays, almost all countries, except for some (e.g. Sweden), have minimum salary requirements for residence and work visas. This is the minimum amount a relocating employee must earn in order to be able to enter a country for work.
When it comes to hiring experienced professionals from abroad, some companies still believe that such a salary offer, in line with the minimum salary requirements for a work visa, will be sufficient. Yes, that may be enough to legally hire international talent, however, that approach isn’t really workable, primarily because of the higher salary expectations from those candidates.
Moreover, every time you offer your foreign candidates the minimum salary for residence and work visas, you’re taking a risk. Having moved, your new hire can be poached by another local company (your competitor) who can easily offer a higher salary that’s in line with the local market rate for their position.
6. Long distance relocation is now a more attractive option
Back then, companies tended to give preferences to candidates from nearby countries so that their flight to a final interview only took a couple of hours. Today, there are a lot of companies that are actively hiring staff from overseas.
Obviously, the further you expand beyond your local market, the larger the talent pool is. Furthermore, it allows you to bring diversity to your tech team and enjoy working in a multilingual, multicultural environment. If your company has joint activities like country days, you will also have a great opportunity to taste interesting dishes from around the world 🙂
7. Test tasks in the early stages of the interview process
More and more companies are giving test tasks to their international applicants in the early stages of the interview process or before the first interview even begins. For instance, if a candidate is applying for a developer job directly through a company website, after submitting their CV, the applicant receives an auto-reply email offering to do a short tech task.
Joel Spolsky, founder of Stack Overflow, stated in his Smart and get things done book:
Would you hire a magician without asking them to show you some magic tricks? Of course not. Do whatever you want during interviews, but make the candidate write some code.
This is especially true if those candidates are coming from abroad. The costs for interviewing, and perhaps even aiding a new hire’s move to a new country, can incur considerable expense.
It takes an average of 20 weeks and over $5K to hire senior talent, longer with visas.
It makes sense that companies would want to ensure they are making the right decision.
Also, such a trend is likely related to the increasing number of online technical test platforms available (Codility, HackerRank, Qualified.io, just to name a few). Coding tests done on paper as the final stage of the selection process are becoming much less common, and it’s quite possible that they will be gone within a decade.
There are definitely pros and cons of such an approach and whether the game is worth the candle is another subject to discuss.
8. The awareness of applicants is hitting record levels
As the popularity of international hiring and relocation packages seems to increase, the wealth of information available on these topics also reaches new heights.
Any quick web search will yield multiple results with various tips, cost of living data (Numbeo, Teleport), passport index info (e.g., Henley Passport Index), and how-to guides for employees and employers alike. At the same time, it seems there are new intricacies popping up every day in regards to how you should apply for a job abroad or search for candidates.
For instance, more and more companies invest in something called “destination branding,” showing the benefits of life and work in their country. Knowing this fact and how it’s done might be useful information for companies trying to stay competitive with their hiring practices.
The salaries being offered are no longer a secret either. This information is actively discussed in various communities for programmers, on expat forums, and salary comparison websites (e.g. PayScale).
In addition to numerous successful relocation stories, there are quite a lot of blog posts about relocation failures…
Success in relocation will rely, in part, on how much information you can gather. Hopefully, with all the extra information out there, candidates can get better prepared for relocation, and will be able to set the right expectations before their move is complete.
9. Applicants are becoming more selective
The rise in popularity, combined with the growing availability of opportunities to relocate for tech work brings with it another trend: potential hires might have more options now than ever.
Especially for those with lots of experience and highly desirable tech skills (Security, AWS, React, etc.), the number of jobs they might be mulling over is higher than in the past.
Increasingly, candidates are considering three and more countries for their next work destination. With that in mind, you need to be ready to compete with companies from other countries to get the attention of the best tech workers and tell them about the benefits of moving to your country, amongst other things.
The next two trends are more related to the situation in Europe, but they are still worth your attention.
10. Finding EU talent ready to relocate elsewhere within Europe is becoming harder
Even though the process of moving around within Europe on an EU passport is a lot easier (such candidates require neither an entry visa or work permit), finding a senior software developer willing to relocate to another EU country for a new job is becoming more difficult.
This is largely due to the growth of the local IT market in virtually every EU country. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook have actively opened offices throughout Europe. As a result, the need to move to the US to join big name tech companies is gone.
Besides, there are more opportunities to work remotely. Telecommuting, in many cases, allows tech employees to earn more than they could being physically at the office and it helps them avoid all those costs and issues associated with moving.
Among those (with an EU passport) who are ready to relocate within Europe are, for the most part, junior level professionals and recent graduates seeking to gain new experience. It’s easier to move when you’re young. Over the years, when you have a family, children, it becomes much more difficult. This job relocation survey vividly demonstrates this point:
Age at time of relocation. Image source
11. Non-EU citizens living in Europe are probably the best bet
The probability of finding your potential employee — the one who doesn’t have an EU passport but who has already moved to Europe — is much higher.
In this case, your candidate (and probably you as an employer) will still have to deal with those visa issues. However, you can easily arrange a face-to-face on-site interview in your office, using low-cost airlines or sometimes even trains/buses. And, more importantly, such candidates already have some understanding and most probably the right expectations about life in an EU country.
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What would be your #12? Let me know in the comments below. Alternatively, you can message me on LinkedIn.
By the way, today is also a BIG day for our team. Together with this article, the newly revamped RelocateMe website has just gone live. Don’t pass by, visit other pages in the new design 🙂
There’s a new service available: Audit of your hiring process. Perfect for those who’d like to streamline their recruitment process for international staff. Find more info on the homepage.