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Recruiting & Candidate Development

The Candidate Pool is Larger than You Think

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Let's play a game, shall we? It's called, Pick the Most Qualified Candidate!

For this game, we'll say the position is for a Buyer role (a senior level position) for a fashion retailer based out of its NYC corporate offices.

Here are the basic candidate profiles:

  • Candidate #1 has extensive experience in his/her profession. The person has achieved Director level status in the last role held and has worked for well recognized brands. He/she is currently looking for an opportunity in New York City. He/she has been recently laid-off. The person is based in NYC.

  • Candidate #2 has extensive experience as well. The person has achieved a Manager level designation in his/her latest role, a well recognized brand, and is still in the role. This person is also seeking an opportunity in NYC. The person is based in Shanghai, and is able and willing to relocate to the United States.

Both candidates meet the minimum qualifications for the position. 

Which one is most qualified?

Once, when geography mattered more, candidate #2 would not have been considered. It would have been easier to go with the locally based candidate. That's changing as a variety of forces--robust technology, globalization, the never ending drive of job seekers looking to differentiate themselves--make it so that in a competitive job marketplace, candidates can be anywhere.

Technology. Advanced search methods have made it so that organizations can look beyond normal geographic boundaries to locate potential candidates. Professionally oriented social platforms such as LinkedIn (200 million users and counting) provide a way by which job seekers and parties interested in them can congregate, connect, and do business, regardless of wherever they may be. Increasingly widespread and powerful technical infrastructures (wi-fi, high speed Internet, more readily available cloud storage and computing) is making it easier for individuals to separate location from work, meaning it can be done from anywhere, anytime. 

Globalization. From trade agreements such as NAFTA to the formation of the European Union (and specifically its internal market concept), to the growth of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) economies, movement of capital, human and otherwise, has become more fluid throughout the world. International organizations, looking to be competitive, as well as to hold onto their talent, oftentimes make assignments in other countries a part of its succession management strategies for its high potential (HiPo) employees. This means that for some working outside of their native countries is not uncommon, but expected if they want to rise in their careers.

Differentiation. While sites such as LinkedIn do a good job of bringing job seekers and recruiters under one digital "roof," it does nothing to make one candidate stand out over another. To that end, being flexible--in this case demonstrating the ability to relocate to where one's needed--can be a competitive advantage. As I mentioned before, succession management initiatives are utilized to engage and challenge top talent, providing them with unique professional experiences so that they can grow into greater roles. However, in many places, being able to relocate isn't about moving up the career ladder, it's about being able to find work, period.

"The last several decades have been marked by an increasing pace of change, disruption, and uncertainty that has been driven primarily by two long-term trends. The first is the rapid proliferation of new digital infrastructures that have compounding effects, so that every new wave of digital infrastructure is adopted faster than the last. The second trend is the global shift toward liberal economic policy, which has increased the ease of moving talent, products, and money across international borders." ~ from Institutional Innovation, by John Hagel III and John Seely Brown


The world is smaller than we believe. Competition is truly global these days. I myself offer career advice to people all over the world several times a week. We communicate via email or talk live utilizing video conferencing services. The details are different, yet their respective goals are the same: "We want to do great work. No matter where it may be located, we have the drive and ambition to go where the action is and succeed."

Recently, I spoke with a French born professional via Skype. She has been working in Shanghai for several years and now has her sights set on entering the job market here in New York City. Her resume is impressive. Just as impressive was what she told me when I asked her about relocating. She explained that she could part ways with her current employer and be ready to relocate to the United States in about a month. One month in which to disconnect from a life built on the other side of the world and rebuild it in a city she's never visited. During that conversation there wasn't a hint of uncertainty on her part. She was able and willing.

This isn't to discount the fact that, for foreign workers, obtaining a proper visa is part of the recruitment equation. Alka Bahal, a Corporate Immigration Attorney based in New York City, informed me that based on the type and timing, a visa can be processed in as little as a few months or over a year. For example, a H-1B visa is one of the most common types.

However, there are a limited number available to employers (candidates must be sponsored by a company). As of this writing, the annual limit has already been reached and it will be a year before anyone can apply. This doesn't necessarily mean that a company can't or won't invest the time, money, and resources into obtaining a visa for the right candidate. It just requires more forethought and planning.  

While my colleague in Shanghai is a senior level professional, this phenomenon isn't limited to those that want to work at the upper levels of an organization. At one company I worked for it wasn't uncommon for students from Europe, when taking the summer off from university studies, to work as customer service representatives in its US locations. Their respective country's consulates had an established process for facilitating their temporary visas (these were for a 2-3 month duration).

This helped to ensure that as soon as they arrived in the US they could begin to work. The company benefited from the fact that these particular students, already familiar with the brand in their home countries, could more easily adapt to its cultural and operational expectations than local candidates. So while we still hired local candidates, we didn't have to hire as many.

Technology, globalization, and differentiation is expanding the notion of where where candidates can be sourced and recruited from. So I caution local job seekers. You're not just competing against those located in your communities and cities. Your competing against anyone, wherever they may be, that has the Knowledge, skills, and ability for the role. The candidate pool is larger than you think.


Victorio Milian is a creative and versatile Human Resources practitioner operating in the service industry. He is also an active blogger, exploring HR and business trends at his self-titled blog and via Project: Social HR, a mentoring program for HR professionals interested in social media.

In his words:  “My career path demonstrates an ability to take on new and greater challenges, successfully manage multiple agendas, as well as work across divisions and with diverse populations. This is Human Resources at its best-to maximize the people potential of an organization in order to create and sustain value. In short, I like working with smart people to do smart things.”



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Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

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