Hiring from abroad is one of the sure-fire ways to increase the competitive edge of your business. However, hiring from abroad takes a lot of resources, so always make sure you are making the right hiring choice.
Have questions? Book a free consultation at International House of Estonia
International House of Estonia provides free personal consultations for foreigners, their families and local employers about settling in, documentation, healthcare, language programs etc. Located in Valukoja 8, Tallinn. Book your appointment online.
Before recruitment: preparation
- Analyse the objectives, benefits, risks, costs, deadlines
Be aware that recruiting internationally may take more time than hiring locally, so plan your time accordingly.
Although the process may be more expensive and time-consuming than searching for local candidates, keep in mind the benefits of international hiring. If your company is exporting to foreign markets, it is beneficial to recruit from those countries to bring in specific knowledge.
- Choose your target countries
Think strategically. What workforce markets might be especially beneficial to your business? Recruitment practices may vary culturally, so take them into consideration before embarking on a global recruiting mission. Find out the recruitment channels and the best practices in your target countries. Partnering with a local recruitment agency might help you to find out the specifics of the local culture.
- Deal with compliance. Check with the authorities about visas, short term employment registration, social security, taxes and other formalities
Make sure you are legally compliant with your obligations as an employer. Learn all about visas, social security and other formalities regarding to foreign employees.
There are different regulations for hiring EU citizens and non-EU citizens. Find out more about migration issues and consult further with the Police and Border Guard Board and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund to find out about the necessary documentation needed for the possible international recruits and their families.
You can also partner with a relocation company who will advise you in all aspects of an international move.
- Professional recognition. Find out about regulated professions in Estonia
Professional recognition is a procedure that enables a person with a foreign professional qualification to be admitted to a regulated profession/professional activity in Estonia. You can find the list of regulated professions in Estonia on the website of the Academic Recognition Information Centre.
- What can your company offer that is attractive to a foreign specialist?
Do you have a solid employer brand? What are the possible reasons a talented specialist would like to move to Estonia and join your company? What is your value proposition?
According to many mobility surveys, the main reasons people want to move abroad are the opportunities to broaden their experience, be personally challenged and to have better career prospectives.
Today’s employees place much importance on finding meaningful and fulfilling work. Include clear and strong messages in your job proposal that show how your company can fulfil these criteria.
- Is your team ready for a colleague who comes from another culture and speaks a different language? Is your team ready to communicate in foreign language on a daily basis?
Decide about the everyday routines in the team before the new colleague arrives.
- Do you have enough time and knowledge to hire from abroad or would you like to outsource the recruitment?
Analyse your resources and make a decision on how to organise the recruitment process. How much are you willing to do yourself? How much will it cost? When and if do you want to work with recruitment agencies?
- Position description
Consider all the details when writing up the job offer. Think about the level of language proficiency required.
Decide on the language learning opportunities, relocation arrangements, accommodation, the length of the contract, etc. You should have all this information available to make foreign experts feel more at ease when they ask for it. Make sure that the total compensation package is competitive on the local market.
Keep a clear candidate profile in mind. Is it early, mid or late career? All of them have different mobility preferences that you need to handle carefully. (For example, mid-career candidates are usually not so flexible due to their spouses’ careers and children’s schools, and are hence more challenging to retain.)
- Job advertisement
When advertising in a foreign country, make sure you know about the local laws governing advertising and marketing, both traditional recruiting marketing and online advertising.
For example, in some countries all job advertisements must be in a local language.
Make sure that all written job applications – whether online or on paper – fully comply with local laws. Make sure which, if any, questions are mandatory or prohibited.
Many job seekers search for international jobs on international career websites. Find out the main sites in your field and focus your search on those.
Structure the interview process in a way which makes it easy for you to schedule interviews across different time zones or make travel arrangements for candidates. Use different technology (Skype, conference calls, etc.) to conduct the first round of interviews to reduce costs.
Interviewing style may vary in different cultures, so be aware of the possible differences.
Be prepared to answer all possible questions asked by your candidates – your company’s strategy, prospects of the organisation, opportunities for employees, training and personal development programs offered, the relocation package, etc.
Always make sure you know what questions are legal and what are not.
- Checking references
Gather additional information about the candidate from knowledgeable and reliable sources during reference checking.
Make sure there is a written permission from the candidate that allows you to check the references. Background check (gathering job-relevant criminal, commercial and financial records) laws vary widely by country.
- Job offer
Avoid misunderstandings by formalising your job offer in writing. Along with starting salary, include additional details such as job responsibilities, location, relocation package, etc.
Visa and residence permit matters when hiring from EU / outside EU
An expert from a non-EU/EEA country has two options for obtaining the right to work in Estonia: registering for short-term employment or obtaining a residence permit for employment. For further information, please see our Hiring outside EU section.
The benefit of hiring employees from the European Union, EEA or Switzerland is that they enjoy freedom of movement within all 28 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. For further information, please see our Hiring from EU section.
The Aliens Act, wage minimum, consent of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund
There are two major legislative acts that regulate immigration in Estonia: the Citizen of the European Union Act and the Aliens Act. To find out if the consent of the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund is needed when hiring the employee you are hiring, and if the wage minimum applies, please see our Aliens Act section.
Social security matters
In general, all employees working in Estonia, and from whose gross salary the employer has paid the social security contributions and whose employment is registered in the Employment Register with the Estonian ID-code (unless exemptions arise due to the owning certificate A1 from other EU country), are subject to the Estonian Social Insurance scheme. To find out more about when the coverage begins, what the exceptions are, etc, please see our Social Security Matters section.
You need to register your foreign employees – both EU and non-EU/EEA employees – in the Employment Register with the Estonian Tax and Customs Board. This is solely your responsibility as an employer. To find out more about basis and time of registration, see our Employment Register Obligations section.
What happens to an employee’s tax residency? Which country has the right to tax employment income? Which rates are applicable? What happens to pension funds or social security payments? Please see our Taxation Obligations section to find out more.
After recruitment/retaining foreign employees
Keeping the foreign expert in your company is a challenge. Try to make their transition into the new environment as efficient and stress-free as possible.
Consider partnering with relocation companies who can provide professional help during the move and the settling-in process. Find a contact person from your team who can act as a mentor for your international colleague, and help them navigate into their new role and life in Estonia.
Depending on the situation, it can be useful to create a manual for the foreign talent which contains information on the job procedures, corporate policies, contact persons, corporate values, etc.
- Language courses and intercultural training
Diminish cultural and language barriers by offering language classes and cross-cultural training.
Cross-cultural training provides essential cultural information necessary to succeed both professionally and personally in Estonia. It offers an opportunity to explore cultural values, beliefs and views that are commonly associated with stereotypes and false assumptions.
- Partner and family support
When your new employee moves to Estonia with their family, your company is expected to take care of the family members as well.
Although it’s exciting, moving abroad always causes stress. If that stress goes unmanaged, it can negatively affect the organisation. Family issues, such as concerns over children’s education and compromises in partners’ career choices remain major obstacles to employee mobility in general.
Research shows that about 60% of expats indicate personal reasons rather than professional ones for failed assignments. So make sure to include the international family to your social events and offer them support in language learning and career planning. Make them feel part of your company.
- Preparing your team
Besides helping the foreign expert adjust to their new life, also make sure that your own team is ready to welcome them.
Arrival of a culturally different person is an adjustment for the whole company. If necessary, offer additional language lessons and cross-cultural workshops for your whole team. Improving levels of cultural awareness helps you to avoid some costly failures in communication.