Globalisation has produced multi-national workforces. But, says Ruth Almond, director of Taylor Harrison, it is important to consider cultural backgrounds before recruiting....

To be a successful search and selection company in today's work environment companies have to develop a cross-cultural understanding. Many companies might find themselves working with some of the world's largest organisations and searching for appropriate candidates from a diverse range of countries, particularly in the fields of credit/risk, finance and operations. As a result they have to constantly adapt their approach which will be based on the following: the assignment itself, the country in which they are looking to recruit, and the culture of the organisation for which they are carrying out the search.

This can be a complex operation and involves in-depth research, a thorough understanding of their client and their needs, and extensive knowledge of a variety of cultures.

Globalisation means that more and more organisations have a diverse workforce from a cross section of countries and cultures. With the emergence of the team culture and its importance to the success, or otherwise, of any operation, it has become vital to ensure a cultural fit within these teams.

Although each candidate is a unique individual, knowledge of their culture can be extremely helpful. It would be inappropriate for example to place an individual from the Netherlands, where work-life balance is highly valued, into a team culture where you are expected to work very long hours with little free time.

Search and selection companies therefore need to try, wherever possible, to fully consider the cultural aspects of an assignment and advise their clients accordingly.

Another example would be the attempt to source a candidate for a role in a financial institution in Berlin. The search and selection company might need to advise clients, if they are looking for a German national, to look within Berlin itself as candidates situated in Munich might not be prepared to relocate. Even regional differences need to be taken into consideration and this saves the client time and money.

With the high cost of recruiting and training an individual, attracting and retaining the right person for the role has become imperative. It is therefore key to understand as much as possible about candidates and the culture of the client organisation so that any potential pitfalls can be identified. In the long-run this can save time and money – for both the candidate and the client.